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‘The idea for a sequel of Humble Politician Nograj was always there’: Director Saad Khan

Still from Humble Politician Nograj

Still from Humble Politician Nograj   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The crooked-yet-popular politician, played by Danish Sait, will be seen in a web series next

Saad Khan, at heart, is and will be a creator. He fondly recalls his initial days of writing and directing plays. He was just 17, he says, when he was interviewed by The Hindu. This was in the early 2000s, before the proliferation of news websites and the advent of social media. “It was a big deal,” he says. Saad directed over 10 plays while doing his engineering in Bengaluru. Then, he went on to do a master’s in film studies in the US. Once he returned, he took to filmmaking and improvisational comedy (aka improv), which steadily gathered audience in Bengaluru. Saad’s biggest success, however, was his third feature film, Humble Politician Nograj (HPN), starring Danish Sait, which became the first Kannada movie to make it to Amazon Prime Video.

Saad, however, is not just a creator now. He is a hyphenate: a producer-director-entrepreneur. His company, FirstAction, has collaborated with Rainshine Entertainment, which also has stakes in Culture Machine (which owns the Tamil digital media brand Put Chutney) and Vir Das’ Weirdass Comedy. Following the tie-up, Saad is working on a 10-episode web series on HPN in collaboration with Applause Entertainment.

The series, says the director, is likely to be released in May or June next year. He speaks to MetroPlus on that and more.

Excerpts

What did the success of HPN mean to you?

It meant a great deal. It was a tough project from every angle. We were converting a social media character to the big screen. It is a political satire. We did not know how people were going to accept it. We were jittery before its release. But the first three weeks were housefull. There were a bunch of 10th grade children who saw the film six times and sent pictures of ticket stubs to me. So, I accompanied them for the seventh time. These things are etched in my memory.

Was an idea for a sequel or spin-off always there on your mind?

Of course. Danish and I, however, started writing HPN as a sequel. But we realised we did not want to be in the same rigmarole of producers, distributors, theatres… Thankfully, Danish had a good conversation with Applause Entertainment. And, when we were offered the opportunity to make it into a web series, we did not think twice. Also, people these days watch only big movies like Jumanji and Avengers on screen. The footfall for independent movies is decreasing.

What are the challenges of writing for a series as compared to writing for a movie?

A feature film has a hook that comes in the climax. But in a series, every episode should have a cliffhanger. Today, there is so much content out there that if your first or second episode is not engaging, people are not going to watch it the third. The writing took about six months. Also, in a film, you have to introduce the main characters in the first 10 minutes. But since the series is 10 episodes, we can pace it slowly. And, it is about politics — the comedy is already out there (laughs).

Saad Khan

Saad Khan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

How much do real-life politicians help you in your writing?

Something strange happened. When we started writing, the whole Maharashtra (political drama) had not happened. Later, the creative team from Applause told us, ‘Did you guys know what is going to happen? Whatever you have written has come true’ (laughs). But whatever we write is fiction. We just want to be safe from any political backlash.

Do you think anyone other than Danish Sait can play Nograj?

Not at all. One: he is supremely talented. A lot of people study to be actors but he is a natural and understands the character because of his background and his observations.

Danish and you use quite a bit of Dakhani Urdu in your Improv pieces...

Well, Danish and I grew up in Bengaluru and have heard people speak it in Fraser Town. Luckily for us, no one has gotten offended when we did do that on stage. We are just being characters and are . We are not trying to mock at one in particular. person.

You started Improv in 2012. Has the reception for it increased?

Quite a lot. The Improv (in 2016) was invited to the Sweden International Improv Festival. Last year, we toured to Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Dehradun... But this year, we have not done many cities. So, in 2020, the plan is to travel to more cities.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 12:58:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-idea-for-a-sequel-of-humble-politician-nograj-was-always-there-director-saad-khan/article30286688.ece

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