What a racket

Independent filmmakers Hemant Gaba and Pankaj Johar feel that chasing dreams is better than settling down

Published - July 19, 2012 07:21 pm IST

(From left) Filmmakers Pankaj Johar and Hemant Gaba

(From left) Filmmakers Pankaj Johar and Hemant Gaba

The film, Shuttlecock Boys revolves around the lives, successes and failures of four friends. A film on self-discovery and coming of age, it wouldn’t be wrong to think that it is inspired from the very lives of Hemant Gaba and Pankaj Johar, director and producers of the film. The 32-year- olds, Hemant and Pankaj, dove head-first into the world of film-making. Quitting a well-paying job in finance was not easy, says Pankaj. “Yes it pinches when I see my peers earning piles of money but life is always about how you feel when you wake up in the morning. I found my calling in films, money is just superficial,” he smiles. Pankaj has worked as a television producer for eight years and has an extensive experience of working on documentaries. Still Standing , a documentary he directed won the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitrnagri award. Hemant Gaba worked in the IT sector and while in New York, attended film-making workshops and decided to take the plunge and moved to India to make films. Together, thick friends and now business partners, Hemant and Pankaj started their own production house Penny Wise Films. They have a clean cycle of direction and production. While one directs, the other one produces.

Shuttlecock Boys is quintessentially a film that seeks to answer a personal question of choosing dreams over life’s lemons. “It’s about four guys, one of them is preparing for CA examinations, one is working in a call centre, one is a cook and the other is a credit card salesman. What binds them together is a game of badminton they play every night on the street, until they decide to start something together. The film is about the trials and tribulations and the relationship that evolves between the four,” says Hemant who has directed the film.

Hemant says that the biggest challenge he faced while making the film was putting together money for the film. Made on a shoestring budget of Rs.35 lakhs — money that came from personal savings, friends and friends of friends — the debut into film-making has been a pleasant one for the duo; never mind the glitches. The film was shot on more than 18 locations in a span of 22 days.

According to Pankaj, it is an exciting time for independent filmmakers. “Some films have changed the landscape of independent cinema and budding initiatives are helping new filmmakers,” beams Pankaj. While Hemant says that independent films don’t need charity, they need more accessible platforms to exhibit.

The film was previously showcased in the Seattle South Asian Film Festival, New York, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Chicago, India International Film Festival, Tampa Bay, Gotham Screen International Festival, New York, and Jaipur International Film Festival, Jaipur, India. With more projects and scripts in the pipeline, Pankaj and Hemant seem upbeat about having gotten into film-making. After having knocked many doors for a release for more than one year after completing their film, the film is now releasing on August 3 in PVR under their Director’s Rare initiative.

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