‘ An Army film need not be a war film’

February 28, 2020 12:00 am | Updated 03:34 am IST

From directing films to produce content for OTT platforms, Samar Khan has explored different mediums in the last two decades. Currently, he is Chief Operating Officer at Juggernaut Productions which has produced Code M for Alt Balaji.The series revolves around an Army lawyer who unravels a conspiracy plot. Khan is known for setting his stories against military backdrop. His Shaurya is still remembered for authentic portrayal of the armed forces.

Edited excerpts-

After a positive critical response for Shaurya , why did you not continue making films?

It was just a combination of circumstances and opportunities. Other opportunities came my way at the right time and I was quick enough to grab them. I think telling stories inspires me. With cinema, you can only tell certain stories but there are other stories which demand to be told. Even while we were doing The Test Case , I had approached Ekta Kapoor for a film, but she asked me if we could make it for the web, and it worked. Now, I think story is important, the medium is not important. People will watch it, no matter where it is available.

How has your experience as a journalist informed you as a storyteller?

As a journalist, I am aware of things happening around me and I read a lot. I think training in journalism help in picking up things which are happening around us, and the craft of filmmaking lets you tell that story well. If you can combine them, it will be more believable and layered . My biggest advantage of being a journalist in Mumbai was that I used to meet directors on the sets and watch them making films. I was the only journalist allowed on the set of Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai . Mr. (Sanjay Leela) Bhansali is very camera shy, but he gave me an interview on the last day of the shooting of Devdas. I also gave him a head massage as he was very tired!

From FM to news channels, you have been part of different mediums. Do you think the time for OTT is similar to the initial phase of television?

We have to learn and observe as the web is more individual-oriented and you can make more personal content then what you can make for television or cinema because they are watched collectively. I started my career in 1984. I think a generation has passed me. It is so fascinating to work with young people.

There is striking resemblance between Rajat Kapoor's character in Code M and Kay Kay Menon's character in Shaurya . How do you pick up characters from the army for your stories?

I was in the National Defence Academy and I believe that I know that space. I have friends who can help me and I can research it very well. My approach towards army was clear – an Army film need not always be a war film. I loved Prahar which was not about war. It was about an Army guy and life in the Academy. I wanted to make something which has army as a backdrop but tells a human story. That was my motive behind both Shaurya and Code M . In both cases, I have picked one individual who is wrong and the army itself takes action against him.

Don’t you think that some films and shows are pushing the ‘nationalistic’ narrative of the government?

I don’t think cinema is about state narrative or a non-state narrative. We, as a country, give too much importance to the cinema. Certain films worked because of a certain mood of the audience at that time. That does not mean anything else. The story has to be compelling no matter what it is about. As a producer of OTT platform, we don't have the right to choose what goes on air. Platforms have the right to choose what will be the content which they want to show. All we choose is a good story.

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