It took him two and a half years to get his debut film, Shaitan on the floors as most of the production houses were not interested in producing a film that seemed to have little going for it – a first time director, bunch of newcomers and content that didn’t seem to be commercial. But then Shaitan got made and director Bejoy Nambiar won laurels and accolades for his craft and unique approach towards treating complex subjects in a commercial way. Similarly, his second film, David was a difficult concept to sell. And now, Bejoy is waiting for Pizza (which he’s co-producing with UTV) – his upcoming horror-thriller to be delivered at the box office. In conversation with Bejoy…
How did Pizza happen?
I was in the middle of the post production of David when I saw the original Tamil version of Pizza and I had fun watching the movie. The rights of the movie were available, so we grabbed it and we thought of setting it up.
Was 3D the only difference between the original and the new film?
No, once you the see the film you’ll realize. We actually worked on the script for four to five months adapting it into Hindi and at the same time making some more changes to it. We have done a different adaptation. There are one or new characters.
You’ve done a co-production with Balaji, i.e. Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi. Now you’re co-producing again. Why did you think of moving away from direction?
It’s a very selfish process in the sense of trying to set up a base where I can try and delve and do stories which necessarily I don’t want to direct but at the same time be part of it. So selfish in those reasons. I don’t think many people know this that I co-produced Shaitan and David as well. I’ve always been a producer. So I wanted to take the platform a bit ahead and do more work as producer with Pizza and Fattack. As a producer I try and work on stories that excites me. I try and do films which I really believe in and which I want to watch and be part of those films. Kuku… didn’t work and I’m hoping this one works out.
Anurag Kashyap helped you co-producing Shaitan. Are you hoping to be the next person in that space?
I don’t want to be the next Anurag but he did a fantastic job of giving the kind of support filmmakers like me need to reach out to a wider audience. But it would be wrong of me to try and ape his model of doing it. I guess its time to create your own space.
What factors you considered while adapting Pizza to the Indian audience?
There were several factors in story-telling which we thought we had to change in order to suit Hindi audience. After watching the film, we can talk about it.
How essential is 3D to the film?
It was a big call taken by UTV and myself. We kept thinking as in what is the next big thing we can try to do the film and make it look more fun and interactive. Had this been my first film and if the challenge to make a 3D film thrown at me, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Because of Akshay’s sheer confidence, we went ahead and did it. We are more than happy.
Was it a conscious decision to cast newcomers?
Yes, we didn’t want to burden the film with stars. It’s not that I consciously try to work only with newcomers.
The project you’re working on after Pizza will star Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar…
Yes that is my first shot at working with the legend Amitabh Bachchan and the supremely talented actor Farhan Akhtar. It’s going to be very intimidating. It’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to it. As a start up producer, for stars to have that kind of faith in my production house, I need to deliver first. So I think for stars to believe in me, I need to put a project within the required budget and put it up and it has to work.
But if you approach them then don’t you think it will cut your losses a little as the attachment of your name might bring people?
Yes, you’re right. It gives you the eyeballs as stars come with that kind of perception. Having said that this kind of content we felt the need of what can be done more, like for instance, 3D is the biggest star of my film. So the focus was on what we could do to enhance the 3D element rather than pay money and get a star. It made a star out of the guy who appeared in the original.
Does horror as a genre appeal to you as a filmmaker?
I cannot direct a horror film but producing a horror film has been a great learning experience. I learnt a lot from Akshay. I don’t myself doing it but it was fun working on the project.