Two songs in Ghanchakkar have grabbed attention for the cool factor. The man behind them, creative director Sajeed A. talks about directing them and more
A bubblegum pink bedroom with canary yellow walls and Vidya Balan prancing around in sultry red nightwear mouthing ‘Lazy lad, Lazy lad…’ in Ghanchakkar is a sure-fire way of grabbing eyeballs. The sequence has stamp of madness and it is over-the-top, in the right measure. In a telephonic chat Sajeed A says: “It was a delicate balance to maintain. The brief from UTV, the producers of the film, was that it had to be over over-the-top, but stylishly.” Sajeed also directed another song ‘Jholu Ram’ for the same movie.
Sajeed, who belongs to Anchal, near Kollam, and joined MTV in 2000, his first show was MTV Bakra. He is a post-graduate in mass communication from SCMS College, Kalamasserry. By the time he quit MTV, in 2009, he went on to become a creative director with some extremely popular shows, besides MTV Bakra to his name. Baap of Bakra and Girls Night Out are some of the notable ones. He relaunched MTV Bakra as Baap of Bakra. And the latter won the Asian Television Award for the best reality series in 2011-12. Though he has quit, he continues to work on projects for the channel. He along with his friend, and former associate vice-president MTV, Prakash Nair, formed White Tiger Productions. The company has done creative work for films, advertisements and digital content for various productions and brands such as Dharma Productions, UTV, Excel Entertainment, Cadbury and Nike besides many others. He also happens to be Resul Pookutty's cousin.
Of how he landed the project, Sajeed says, “UTV got in touch with us - White Tiger Productions - to develop concepts for a couple of songs for the movie. They wanted the songs to be quirky, over-the-top, stylish and it should talk to the family.” The two songs are studies in contrast. The brief was that the songs had to project Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan. After discussions with UTV, on certain key areas work began. “The songs took a turn-key time of three months.” Outsourcing song sequences to other production houses is an emerging trend he says. Getting into another director’s ‘space’ was tough but then interactions with Gupta made things easy.
‘Jholu Ram’, the song, is also significant because UTV wanted it to be the comeback vehicle of Altaf Raja, Sajeed says. The singer’s ‘Tum to thehre pardesi’ had a cult following in the 90s and “at one point sold more records than A.R.Rahman.” Here too the brief was that the song had to be ‘stylishly done.’
“The song is set in a shady jazz bar in Mumbai where Emraan Hashmi lands up in his night suit and strange things happen. The song was picturised in such a way that both artistes got equal importance,” he says. The colour scheme of the song is monochromatic (primarily black) as opposed to the ‘pinkness’ of ‘Lazy Lad’. The only dash of colour is Emraan’s red and white polka-dot night suit. “It was done in order to highlight the character.”
The set for ‘Lazy Lad’, Sajeed says, was designed keeping in mind Vidya’s character which is loud. “I wanted to give the song fluidity and therefore shot it with a camera following the action. The song is seamless while ‘Jholu Ram’ has a ‘block’ feel,” he elaborates. The director of photography was Polly Morgan. Among her projects are Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight and Inception. The sets were conceptualised by Sajeed with Polly and Sukant Panigrahy.
Of the experience of working with Vidya and Emraan he says, “Vidya asked ‘you are a Malayali?’ She’s so much fun to work with. Emraan and she together were like a dream to work with. I was shooting more than 25 takes per shot with them. Reason being it’s a seamless take and lot of elements have to be in sync. We shot two shots per day for ‘Lazy Lad’.”
So will he making a Malayalam film? He had plans to make a film but had to call it off a few days before filming started. In the future he might, but in the immediate future he has plans for Bollywood, “currently I’m working on couple of scripts for a couple of Bollywood production houses.”