The success of the Akshaye Khanna starrer court room drama film Section 375 has put Panorama Studios on a high, and Creative Producer, Vignesh Shetty only promises more films coming the way of audiences this year and the next one!!
Vignesh Shetty, a Writer and Director himself recently donned the Director’s cap for Bar Code, the web-series of Panorama Studios, starring Akshay Oberoi and Karan Wahi that streamed on Hungama Play.
In an exclusive conversation with IWMBuzz.com, Vignesh Shetty, Creative Producer, Panorama Studios gets into an easygoing chat on the critical acclaim and success story of Section 375, on his experience working with Akshaye Khanna, on the future lineup of the banner and much more…
Panorama Studios is on a roll…Drishyam, Raid, Bar Code (series) and now Section 375. I watched it and I totally loved it.
Thank you! We are happy with the way our content is being received. As a production company, our vision is to back good stories and make them with all heart and passion and the results are there for everyone to see. Glad you loved Section 375. The feedback across-the-board be it word-of-mouth from the audience, critic reviews, or within the industry, has been great.
Section 375 is one of those rare films which manages to be entertaining as well as thought-provoking and to get the balance right, it must have been difficult considering it is based on a very sensitive subject of rape. Tell us how it all came together.
Again, it is the vision that we had for the film. Writer Manish Gupta had pitched this script to us and we liked it. The next step was to assemble the director and lead cast for the film. Our producers Mr Kumar Mangat Pathak and Mr Abhishek Pathak believed Akshaye Khanna was the right actor for the part and they picked up the phone and reached out to him. He liked the subject and came on board. The same with Richa Chadha. With these two together the casting became very interesting. We then had to hunt for a director who was right for this film. We made a list and from my end I suggested Ajay Bahl as his sensibility based on his earlier work was a right fit for this film. Ajay came on board immediately and we did some brainstorming on the script and identified areas which required rewriting. Ajay took off for some time and he came back with some good value additions which took the script to the next level as he incorporated some interesting aspects related to a sensitive issue like rape and the judicial system in our country. In fact, during this time we delayed the shoot for a bit so that the script reached its full potential. Once the shooting script was ready, Ajay did a fine job directing and the performances were top notch.
Akshaye Khanna as everyone knows is one of the best actors in the business.
For a courtroom drama, the film is paced really well.
Yes. It is. In a world where audience’s attention span is reducing, it was important we got the pacing right. We as a team take a lot of time in the editing room trying out things in the best interest of the film. Credit goes to Aarif Sheikh, the editor, he was a value add.
How was it working with Akshaye Khanna? He is brilliant in the film.
Akshaye Khanna as everyone knows is one of the best actors in the business. I joke with people that he should give free acting lessons to 70% of the so called ‘stars’ in our industry. He is consciously very selective about the films he chooses and the parts he plays which makes him one of a kind. He is effortless in getting into the skin of a character and that is a sign of a great actor. Although he comes in with a lot of experience and has been there-done that, yet he is open to ideas and is a very good listener. It was wonderful working with him. For the audience sake I hope he does more films.
Tell us about your forthcoming films..
We have 2 releases this November. The first is a light-hearted comedy titled Ujda Chaman featuring Sunny Singh. It is the directorial debut of Abhishek Pathak and is an official remake of a very successful Kannada film Ondu Motha Kathe. Abhishek comes with a lot of producing experience having nurtured many films for the company and in the years to come he is a talent to watch out for. Post Ujda Chaman, we have a big commercial entertainer Pagalpanti starring John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Ileana D Cruz and Arshad Warsi directed by Anees Bazmee who has his own unique voice in the comedy genre.
We also have an Emraan Hashmi horror flick titled Ezra which is a remake of a hit Malayalam film of the same title. We have a Vidyut Jamwal romantic action thriller titled Khuda Haafiz that will see Vidyut in an intense space. All these are part of our 2019 production slate. For 2020, we are co-producing Bhuj, a Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha starrer based on true events. The shoot is in progress. We also have a very interesting film going into production in January directed by veteran actor Saurabh Shukla featuring a very unusual star cast. The official announcement for this will be out soon.
That’s a lot of films in your slate!
Ha! Yes..there are many more in development. It’s a great time for the film industry and a great time for the audiences too. All kinds and genres of films can co-exist. There are so many stories out there waiting to be told and we are game.
Tell is about your role as a Creative Producer…
Essentially a Creative Producer is someone who is assigned by the producer to oversee a film on all creative aspects right from its scripting/development through its pre-production, casting, shooting, post-production right till its marketing and release. Once a film goes on floors, the creative producer becomes a bridge between the producer and the director, he is also a creative sounding board to the producer and the director. So I oversee and report to the producer on the day to day progress of the film and ensuring the film is shaping up exactly as per the vision the producers and the director had. Basically, in any production company that has multiple films on the floor at any given time, the creative producer plays an important role in ensuring the film is completed as envisioned because producers already have a lot on their plate and hence don’t have to micromanage.
Whether it is Narcos or House of Cards produced by global streaming platforms or films like Dangal or a Uri produced in India, it all boils down to good storytelling.
On the web front, you directed Bar Code which received a good response. Karan Wahi too won a few awards for it. Any plans for Season 2?
Yes. The audience response has been good and so were the reviews. The syndication of the show across many platforms helped too. What happens is when you have a successful show, you need to scale up and do a bigger and a better follow up. Also, film-making is anyway a long and laborious process and it becomes very important the people you team up with share the same vision in terms of content, budgets, marketing and all other aspects. It is important everyone is on the same page. If that happens, why not?
What is your take on the content out there in the streaming space vis a vis Indian shows produced by the global giants versus Indian platforms?
Because of dollar power and marketing hype, the general perception within the industry and among metro city audience is that shows produced by global streaming giants are top quality and have good content. A few of them are, yes, but not all are great. There is a lot of mediocre stuff being made too. On the other hand, there are a whole lot of shows coming out of Indian platforms which have struck a chord with pan India audiences particularly in mini metros and Tier 2 cities. Like for Bar Code, till date we receive messages from everywhere be it a Lucknow or a Indore or a Vishakapatnam saying they loved it and this is a huge audience segment global giants are not able to penetrate. On the flip side, what Indian platforms need to learn from their foreign counterparts is vision for mounting and scale, marketing and making their service, user-interface friendly for the viewer as by and large the foreign platforms are leagues ahead in these aspects.
What excites you more – streaming shows/content or films?
Both. Whether it is streaming content or films, end of the day it is all about storytelling. Whether it is Narcos or House of Cards produced by global streaming platforms or films like Dangal or a Uri produced in India, it all boils down to good storytelling. The process of making them is exactly the same. Only the mediums and the durations are different. I don’t see any other difference. Bottomline, you have to engage your viewer. Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman featuring all time greats like De Niro and Pacino is coming soon on a streaming platform with just a very limited release in theatres……This is the greatest marriage of the two mediums. All comparisons between these two mediums are now irrelevant. Ha!
Any plans of directing a feature film?
Yes I will be. I have been scripting an edge-of-the-seat thriller titled Diwali. I like to take a lot of time with the writing and the research and now I’m almost done. If everything falls in place, we should start filming sometime in 2020.