Bangalore boy Saad Khan’s Hindi thriller 'Station' has given a new meaning to ‘direct marketing’, thinks Bhumika K. as he goes to malls to talk to possible audiences.
A director uses his gift of the gab to market his Indie film — he stands in a mall talking to passersby, telling them about his film and urging them to watch it. “I’ve been doing this for the last three days and I must have met about 300 people already. About 20 of them bought their ticket online, standing with me, from their phones!,” says filmmaker Saad Khan. That, now, is his station in life.
Khan’s debut feature film Station, which he claims is the first Hindi movie to come out of Bangalore, releases this Friday with the PVR Director’s Rare label attached to it. Khan expresses the same fears and apprehensions any independent filmmaker today, disadvantaged in the sea of marketing gimmicks that bigger films with A-list stars have. “It’s harrowing, seeing independent films being taken off screens because there are only 10 or 15 people at each show,” says the Bangalore-boy. “Mine is an independent film. We don’t have stars, we don’t have Sunny Leone. I think in my next film, I will have six item numbers…the audience is conditioned to having known faces bring them to a film,” he says evidently frustrated.
A mechanical engineer from M.S. Ramaiah College and with no film background, Khan studied filmmaking in the U.S.A. His short film Another Kind of Black was screened at the 2008 Cannes short film category. While still in college here in India, he got interested in theatre, and wrote and directed plays.
He returned from America to land the enviable position of associate director with Bollywood’s Ashutosh Gowariker on Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se.When he came home to Bangalore on a break, everyone he spoke to, kept telling him about the vast talent pool in Bangalore. He never returned to Mumbai, and instead decided to set up CenterStage in 2011 that started off holding film acting workshops. Today they’ve expanded to create, among other things, the improvisational comedy show, The Improv.
Station has been long in the making — the cast of the film is drawn from CenterStage, with the training module for the actors starting in 2011. “Every actor in my film has done theatre. Many of them have acted in commercials. We in fact did elaborate rehearsals before the shoot,” says Saad. The film took almost two years to make.
The film, a Hindi thriller, centres around three psychotic assassins at a waiting room in a deserted railway station. “I love the psychology of a criminal’s perspective…the unravelling of the plot is as enjoyable. We had three editors on board and did nearly 40 cuts so that the narrative won’t be slack,” says Saad. “My actors didn’t shave or bathe for days to get the feel of their character right. They walked empty roads at night, sat at small local bars to observe people around them…they came to rehearsal in a dark state of mind.” He chose to make the film in Hindi “because the film’s visual language and narrative could be driven by it. I didn’t think three assassins could talk English, and I don’t speak Kannada fluently. Moreover Hindi appeals to most of the movie-going audience.” None of his actors spoke Hindi fluently either so they were language coached before dubbing for themselves!
On board Station are actors Siddhanth K. Sundar, model Sameer Kevin Roy, Hardik Sha an actor who’s also the co-producer, and produced by venture capitalist Sumit Ghosh. The film also has a 19-year-old associate producer Neal Bafna, a student of Christ University, who dealt with the everyday logistics of payment of the crew etc. The director however won’t disclose at which railway station they shot. Neither will he reveal the budget.
The film was shot at various locations in Bangalore including Bull Temple Road, Frazer Town, V.V. Puram, Rajajinagar “and wherever the Metro construction is taking place” says Saad.
Bangalore is a place with a heart, he says, recalling how on one of the nights, when the shoot went well into 3 a.m., and they were all craving tea. “We didn’t have caterers because that would be an additional cost. All we would have at that time of the shoot would be chai and biscuit. So a kind lady in the neighbourhood where we shot made us tea at that hour in the morning!”
Station releases March 28 in PVR in Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Ranchi, and Ahmedabad.