Posted by Vivek on March 28, 2011 | No Comments

The Flavors and 99 guys are back. Raj Nidimoru and KrishnaDK, the “NRI” directors who gave us FLAVORS and 99, now turn “RI” and their SHOR IN THE CITY, is set for release. Like the earlier two films too, this one promises to be entertaining, funny, slightly dark, but always surprising in a positive way. This time they are backed by Balaji and have put together an ensemble cast, of “desis” from across the globe and also across various spectrums of Mumbai.

SHOR is already drawing accolades and here we catch up with the duo:

What is SHOR IN THE CITY all about?

When we landed in India a few years back, the city of Mumbai ‘hit’ us. I believe everyone who comes to this great city will realize that the city overwhelms you – it chews, swallows and spits you out – a totally changed person! :) The noises, the smells, the chaos, the people…
That is the genesis of the film, SHOR IN THE CITY.
The film tells three loosely interconnected stories set amidst all the noise and chaos of Mumbai. It is also set during the 11 days of the Ganesha festival, which is the noisiest period as well. It is a mix of genres – dark comedy, drama, action thriller – all rolled into one. The film – just like the city it talks about – is fast-paced and gives you no time to breathe.

From a genre perspective, how is this different from 99?

I guess our basic sensibilities and sense of humor will show through from 99. Other than that the film is completely different in terms of treatment and genre. It is a hard-hitting, grounded, ensemble film.

In fact we had made a short – also called SHOR – even before we had made 99. This film is an expansion of the short film. The short featured in many international film festivals and won many awards. It was also instrumental in enabling us to sign on the actors (Sendhil, Tusshar etc) and the producers (Balaji) of the film very easily. That, and the script.

On your collaboration with Ekta?

It is always good for a film to have the support of a studio. How a film is marketed is as important as the film itself. I believe this is where Ekta and Balaji’s expertise comes in. The entire creative team has believed in the film from the onset – and it is a unique film and takes a lot of conviction to back. And the marketing campaign is quite edgy and strikingly stands out.

The experience of working with an ensemble cast, and the merging of the two worlds, NRI (Sendhil) and RI?

We’ve always worked with ensemble casts – with 99 and with FLAVORS before that. But this time the ensemble got a little wider. With Sendhil Ramamurthy from Hollywood, Bollywood stars like Tusshar Kapoor and Nikhil Dwivedi, South Indian actors like Sundeep Kishan, Marathi film actors (Radhika Apte, Girija Oak), theater actors and fresh new-comers (Pitobash, Preeti Desai) all thrown into the mix – it was quite an ensemble!

But honestly it poses no problems. At the end of the day all the actors internalized the characters and portrayed them authentically. As directors we also tend to let the actors improvise on the characters and give them a side that as writers we may not have given.

This is also the kind of film that requires a lot of raw energy that cannot actually be planned for. So a lot of times we would leave the actors on the street (having rehearsed off-site first) and let them play out the scene. Amongst real people! And by the time the people on the streets realize there is a shoot going on and start accumulating around the actors, we’d be done with the scene. We had some incredible experiences shooting like this.

There were instances when we threw Sendhil right in the middle of some slums and started shooting. He was a total sport – this was something he wouldn’t have dreamt of doing, having worked with well-coordinated LA productions usually – but he loved every minute of it!

There was an instance when cops stopped Tusshar, Nikhil and Pito on a bike – for driving triples (which is illegal). When the cops were quietly told thiswas part of a shoot and we were trying to keep a low-profile, they cooperated. Traffic was going on as usual, people around didn’t even know we were shooting – and all this was happening in a major Mumbai intersection at peak hours!

Apparently SHOR has got a very positive response in the screenings across the globe, talk a little about it?

Shor premiered at Pusan International Film Festival. We attended the festival and were heartened by the response the film got from an essentially Asian audience. This goes to say that the language of cinema is universal.

Shor also was the opening night film at the MIAAC Film Festival in NYC. And it ended up winning the BEST DIRECTOR award at the festival. This was the first time the film played to a primarily Indian audience – even if this was the international cut.
So far the audiences in the various film festivals have loved the film. They’ve been asking all the right questions in the Q&A sessions afterward. The handful of critics’ reviews that have come from these festivals have been extremely positive too.

So fingers crossed for the Indian release. The version of the film we are releasing here is a somewhat different cut, tailored to the domestic audiences. It is principally the same story told slightly differently!

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