Filling the gap

Sanjay Suri   | Photo Credit: mail_grkrm

Sanjay Suri, who is known for his work in socially relevant films both as an actor and an independent producer, was among the four mentors who were at Children Screenwriter's Lab 2015. Film Bazaar’s inaugural Lab was dedicated to children content and it has proven to be successful as Sweden’s Financing Forum for Kids Content has selected two projects from it for their forum to be held in March 2016. “There are films which are made on children as a subject but there are very few films which are made especially for children. Though India has many children-oriented TV networks with mainly animation presence, the local content still falls behind as it mainly borrows content from Japan and America,” says Sanjay.

The actor works closely with producer-director Onir. Their films My Brother Nikhil and I Am received accolades in film festivals around the globe and now he is producing and acting in Onir’s upcoming venture Chauranga. Set in a rural background, the story of a teenager boy has won several awards around the globe.

Edited excerpts:

Your upcoming film Chauranga is the story of a teenager boy. Tell us the journey of the film as it was conceptualised in 2012 but is releasing in theatres this week.

The story is about children but is not meant for kids. And while the story is set in a rural background, it has an urban taste. Apart from producing it, I am also acting in it. I am playing father of an upper caste girl. Initially, Chauranga got a script development fund from Sweden as it raised the socially sensitive topic of caste system which is prevalent in our society. Then it got Incredible India award from Ministry Of Tourism in 2012. NFDC got involved during the production stage. The film is partly shot in Odisha and Santiniketan, West Bengal. It was best film in MAMI film festival in 2014 and in early 2015 it got Grand Jury Best Film Prize at IFLA film festival Los Angeles.

I hope the audience too will like the film.

What reasons do you attribute to lack of content for children in both films and television industry?

We have to differentiate as there can be two kinds of films. On one hand there are films which are made on children, while on the other we have films made for children. Due to demand from the industry, Indian filmmakers mix both these categories. Consequentially, we find that there is lack of films for children. I believe that there is a big appetite for films made for children and it is not being addressed.

What is the relevance of crime series like “Saavdhan India”, which you are anchoring these days?

Honestly, I have to admit that the kind of films I have made, they did not have the appeal to reach the masses. So one part of it is that Saavdhan India reaches the audience who do not know me. And the other part is that I do like the message of fighting back whenever crime occurs. And I am doing my bit by appearing as an anchor in it. I had a good connect with the theme as most of my films are socially relevant.

How was your experience in the Lab, sharing thoughts with experts from different countries and bright young minds?

There were different areas which were headed by experts from different areas. I was there to share nuances of pitching. The topic is relevant today as we are heading towards content-based cinema in India.

With my experience here and other screen labs in different film festivals, I have realised that when you showcase a film with good story the selection is only on the basis of content. This is the beauty of the whole process.

How new screenwriters can benefit from forums like these?

When you have a story, you have to pitch it to possible investors, producers or even creative people who can help you in making the film. There are various possible ways of approaching them, so we prepare them with the industry-oriented ways through a presentation and making them understand how to make an impact within minimum time.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 7:30:19 AM |

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