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'The story drew me to the film'

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IN FOCUS Subi Samuel's high on his debut film
IN FOCUS Subi Samuel's high on his debut film

Subi Samuel hopes to break the formula with 'Alag', to be released this Friday

The special effects for this film cost around two crore. It takes the Mickey out of you. It's an all too familiar phenomenon. The observer studies his subject so deeply that eventually he falls in love with it. For years, Subi Samuel photographed the stars. His list of subjects is a veritable who's who of the Bollywood film industry. And now, after chronicling the industry from the outside, the ace photographer has crossed over. His maiden venture as a producer, Alag, is out in cinemas this Friday. The film is an interesting choice for a debut feature. It follows the life of an 18-year-old boy who has no contact with the outside world because he has lived in a cellar all his life. When he finally comes out, he discovers that he has super powers that only make him more of an outcast. "The story drew me to the film," says Subi. "I'm a sucker for emotions, and this story has a lot of emotion in it," says Subi. Tejas, the outcast boy, is easily relatable. "He cries easily, he laughs easily and he believes easily. These are things that we lose out on as we grow up. I really connect with his vulnerability." It is that connection, Subi explains, that drove him to make this film. After all, with an audience that grows more fickle by the day, the lists of hits and misses throw up unusual surprises. "I can't brag about this film and guarantee that it will be a hit. But when you believe in certain fundamental things, you just have to stick by them," he asserts. As the cast also testifies, Alag was made mostly on trust and faith. "A bunch of friends came together and put time, money and effort into the project," says Subi. Sabse Alag, the music video to promote the film, alone seems to have left Subi indebted to friends in the industry for life. The few minutes of song alone features more stars than the rest of the film, everyone from Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta to Shahrukh Khan and Karan Johar to Abhishek Bacchan and Priety Zinta. Extending the concept of friends coming together on the project, Subi has even got a close friend, Ashu Trikha, to direct the film. "Ashu is a dear friend of mine, and we've discussed various films over the last few years." Thus, Ashu was a natural choice to direct the film. This, despite the fact that the director's last two films Deewanapan and Sheesha haven't done as well as he might have hoped. "I don't go by the success of the last film. I believed in the project and the team and so I've gone ahead with it," Subi says. The choice of Dia Mirza as the female lead seems equally surprising. Subi explains: "Dia is the only one young enough to be paired with Akshay but with enough sensibility to play someone in charge of an institution of orphaned children." Alag comes amidst a spate of films dealing with super powers - Krissh and Aparichit. The most plausible reason, says Subi, is the lack of access to special effects. "In my film, the special effects alone cost around two crore. That takes the Mickey out of you." He's also quick to add that he doesn't really see a trend developing either. "I think it was pure coincidence. Aparichit came unexpected" One almost immediately senses that he doesn't want the three movies looked at together, and he clarifies: "Krissh is by the Roshans, a superb combination. I'm just a new kid on the block. It's not fair to them to compare the two movies." But new kid on the block doesn't mean Subi feels foreign around motion picture cameras. In fact, his role as the producer has been an involved one, with him providing macro level input on everything from costumes to locations to everything else. "I got involved for the learning it can give me," he says. The leap, however, wasn't as large as one might imagine. "I am in a business where I have a lot of experience with aesthetics. It was just a step up from still pictures to moving pictures." And so, while Subi Samuel waits for the verdict on this experiment, the rest of us flog the title to death, wondering if Alag can be different enough for the audiences to fall in love with it. RAKESH MEHAR

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