Posted by barkha on June 13, 2011 | No Comments

Beejoy Nambiar is used to the highs and lows the creative industry dolls out. A high on winning the Nationally televised reality show, as the best director, is offset with the award promised not being delivered on. The struggle of making the first film is offset by the reward to SHAITAN’s release. This filmmaker has learned to take it all in his stride and in turn, turn it around positively to remain focused on his task, which is that of making a diverse kind of films. He represents the new age sensibility that is remerging in Bollywood. Here we get to talk to Beejoy and Megha, the writer for SHAITAN.

How did the film come about?

It took a long process. I was working with Ashok Amritraj, on winning the reality show for the best director. The winning prize was that I get to direct a Hollywood film. So I landed up in LA with some concepts and Shaitan was one of them. That was the one he liked the most and asked me to flesh it out more. So I fleshed out the story and returned to India to connect with my screenplaywriter Megha and we both wrapped up the screenplay out of it. After 4-5 months the first draft was ready, but by then Ashok was not keen on it. He wanted me to do something else but I had invested far too much time into this and had become very attached to it and was not ready to give that up. Initially it was an English story set in Mumbai, so we decided to make it a Hindi film instead. That in fact gave me access to more Producers and Actors here.
All in all, I look at the positives as I got to read a lot of interesting scripts and met many people, while being in LA, in Ashok’s office. If it wasn’t for him, I would not have moved to Shaitan, so I take that as a positive for me.

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

Always! Wanted to be part of the media. Since the age of 2 or 3 I guess, that is all I know. I was not very good in sports and just about ok in my academics, so films and media, is really all that I only wanted to be a part of. I was heavily into films from a very early age and coming from a business family I was being groomed to take over the business but I was always inclined to doing something or the other in the field of arts. So I started off doing theater and writing and directing plays and then I slowly moved towards the film medium.

The Challenges that you faced in making your film?

Initially I was supposed to do a filmmaking course from New York, but that did not happen. Then I wrote around ten short film scripts and I decided to make short films and learn from the experience. I had allocated a budget for all ten and I ended up spending all the money in the first one itself, which has Mohanlal in the lead. It was a eight minute silent short film. That opened a lot of doors for me, the main one being I got a job with Mani Sir (Mani Ratnam) because of that and of course that was also my entry into the reality show.

What is Shaitan all about?

It is an edge of the seat, topical thriller. A contemporary story. Borrowed heavily from life around Mumbai, but it is not a Mumbai specific film, the theme is more universal. The appeal is wider than just the youth. But by the same token a thriller comes with a set of baggage and I did not want to limit the experience of the audience. There is already an expectation and a fixed format for that genre, so I wanted to make it more unique. We have made it a very treatment heavy film and a one of a kind type, shot in Red.

On not casting stars?

When Ashok turned down the film, I was not duly worried since I had the experience gained from Mani to show for me, and was pretty confident I would get the stars and the money in Mumbai. Also I had a  bound scrip with me. But I was heavily mistaken on that front. It was a very uphill task to finally get here. To say I did not want to have stars is not true, cause the truth is I approached every star there is, for this project. Although I am happy to have got to work with the people I did work with, cause the kind of professionalism and the edge they brought with them, would not have been possible if I had worked with a Star. Eventually I am just happy that it is out there cause I know eventually it will find its audience.

Do you want to explore other genres too?

Absolutely, in fact the next film that I am doing is in multiple genres. It is a gangster, coming of age and a comedy film. So I would like to move away from a specific genre and want to experiment definitely.


Whose Shaitani idea was this?

Shaitan was always Bijoy ‘s idea and we worked on the story together. We came out with different ideas to take the film forward. The dialogues were actually written by a classmate from FTII, his name is Abhijit Deshpande. The screenplay was written by Bijoy and me. This is my first film as a writer.

On Bollywood directors having huge egos and pretending to be writers when they are not?

Neither is true of Beejoy. In fact writers in Mumbai often feel that frustration, hence I waited for a while before teaming up with Beejoy, since he actually works very well with the writer and is always open to ideas and true collaboration. Not only is he a very fast director to work with, he is a very fast thinker too, to write along with.

What was the driving force behind the story?

Our anger….with the status quo

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