Writer-director Sanjay Khanduri has been signed by VENUS FILMS for directing their next film. This will be Sanjay's second film to go on floors after his critically acclaimed and fairly successful Ek Chalis Ki Last Local (Abhay Deol, Neha Dhupia).
"This will be a comic thriller. Though Ek Chalis Ki Last Local was also a comedy, but it was more of black humor with a dark-n-edgy feel to it", informs Sanjay, "On the other hand this new film, which is yet to be titled, has universal appeal and has comedy interspersed with thrill elements. The film will be a mix of mass and class and would be oriented more towards family audience than my last film." Talking more about the film, a relaxed Sanjay says, "The film is concept oriented and I am happy to be working with VENUS. They are one of the best production houses we have on the scene today. Venus has been known to be very supporting and non-interfering producers. We were actually planning a project together far before release of Ek Chalis... . Ratan Jain has made mega films like Baazigar, Josh, Humraaz, Garam Masala on his banner and I feel privileged as a film maker to work with an achiever like him. He was especially very charged after seeing Ek Chalis... and somewhere he always knew I fitted into their new scheme of things."
Has he zeroed in on the film's starcast? "There has been keen interest shown by lot of top actors of the industry after they seeing Ek Chalis … so my issue is solid script; casting will be thought then. That’s the way I followed in my first film as well. Ya, one thing which is sure is that the male lead is going to be a marketable star though the girl could be someone new."
Why new? "For me casting is of utmost importance when it comes to giving shape to a project. People had asked the reason behind signing Neha Dhupia as a leading lady for Ek Chalis Ki Last Local. They were apprehensive if she was the right choice but after watching the film all acknowledged that she was just so right for the role. Same holds here. We feel that we can introduce a new heroine in this film. This helps many ways. Helps a new comer to make a mark, the production house to get an in-house artist and the film industry to get a new talent on showcase," he explains.
With the kind of recognition he got for Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, one would have expected an announcement to be coming a lot earlier. What took him so long?
"Let me be immodest and agree that offers had started trickling in the moment buzz started spreading about Ek Chalis Ki Last Local as a good film before its release", smiles Sanjay, "After release it was an avalanche. I won't deny that it was hard to resist the temptation especially when it had taken 3 long years to bring one film on celluloid. But I strongly felt that it was important for me to work with people who believed in my kind of cinema. Film making is my life not my business. I had to be very careful".
Did someone guide him through the rough weathers? Sanjay smiles nostalgically saying, "With offers trickling in pre-release I was a little restless as all said ‘just take whatever is coming across. There maybe no tomorrow’. I remember consulting my mentor Kundan Shah". He gets emotional, "He educated me about the importance of waiting and advised for holding and watching for the response of the film rather than jumping on whatever coming across.”
He said, if the film didn’t work, these people will disappear again. He had seen Ek Chalis Ki Last Local and was confident about my film. I took his advice and waited. I guess it worked for me in a big way since suddenly I saw some of the best banners in the business with exciting range of projects approaching me. I will be always indebted to him for his advice."
Talking about big and reputed banners, one hears that VENUS is not the only project on the anvil. "You have heard it right", discloses Sanjay, "Another top production house is keen on working with me on my subject in a big way. But I would discuss that after some time."
Would he also jump into the bandwagon and start working on multiple projects? "No, I don't see myself doing that. Since I not just direct but also write my films, there is a limit to what you can do with complete focus. Projects could be back to back but it is not possible to work on them in parallel. As of now I am in the process of finalizing my script for the first film and I along with my team of writers am going ahead with full gusto and confidence."
Though the music of Ek Chalis Ki Last Local was decent, it was neither considered to be film's USP nor was it promoted aggressively. In fact 'Laree Choote' went on to be a hit, courtesy immense love it got from audience. How musical would his next outing be? Laughs Sanjay, "This time around I can promise you that music would have a much more role to play in the film. There would be greater focus on creating what you call as a popular soundtrack."
With his very first film, he had taken an out of the box approach and pushed the envelope. Though Ek Chalis Ki Last Local proved to be a decent commercial success with astounding numbers registered for DVD sales and it's recent satellite premier, it deserved to be a better box office earner. What are his plans for his films in the future? Would he still be going unconventional?
"I can see that audiences are quite adaptive to newer ideas and it is only going to be better as one moves on. Would I be making an unconventional film? Surely yes! But at the end of the day cinema is something for masses and I want to make my films for them. So in the time to come, rocking unconventional commercial-cinema is what you should expect from me," concludes Sanjay with a confident smile.