“I Do Not Need Stars. I Need Proper Tools To Make My Films” - Sartaj Singh Pannu

August 28th, 2010 - 8:30 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

August 28, 2010 (Sampurn Wire): Sartaj Singh Pannu, actor – director - producer of “Soch Lo’ tells Jyothi Venkatesh that starting with just $400, he raised funds up to $ 1, 00,000 through YouTube, friends, acquaintances and the full length cutting edge flick was ready

Why did you set out to make your debut film “Soch Lo’?

To tell you the truth, I set out to make “Soch Lo’ just to prove to myself whether I am good enough. Though I have also produced the film besides writing and directing it and acting in it, I hope my name succeeds in superseding my various designations

What is “Soch Lo’ all about?

“Soch Lo’ is a thriller drama about the disparity between urban and rural India and about how we think we have grown but have not. It deals with what happens when you juxtapose the urban mind set in a rural setting. There are three spectrums, one about a brother -sister relationship which deals with the past, one about a husband and a wife who have an arranged marriage and finally this commingling of the rural - urban process. While the film is targeting the youth of today, it is also a compelling watch for all ages, ethnicities and actually even a global mindset. It is for people who have fallen in love, got married and who have to deal with the past baggage of the partners in a relationship.

Describe your journey in films!

I have worked as an assistant to director Jahnu Barua in Anupam Kher’s film “Om Jai Jagdish’ and had always wanted to make a mainstream film with my own style of filmmaking. I have supervised the shooting of Anupam Kher’s “Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara’ and have written six scripts which are still to be filmed, “Soch Lo’ being the seventh script of mine with which I have made my debut as a writer – actor - director.

Does it mean that “Soch Lo’ is basically a one man show?

I am more like a leader. The film is not a One Man Show, because I am of the opinion that without a team to back your project, you just cannot end up making a film, however hard you may try to. “Soch Lo’ is a kind of statement. It has different meanings though the theme of the film is based on the concept of arranged marriage. I am neither pro or anti arranged marriage. I want to convey through my film that we are desis and hence often end up in arranged marriages though we do have relationships when we are young. The crux of the film dwells at length about what happens when your past catches up with your future.

To what extent do you know acting?

I do not think like an actor and hence I need to learn more about acting. I consider myself a filmmaker and acting is just an added bonus. As an actor, I believe in being the character which I am required to portray. I decided to cast myself in my film because it is difficult to trust a new comer. I wanted an actor who could carry the film on his shoulders by looking Indian as well as International. Since I could not stumble upon the right person, I cast myself in the role, especially because I think that I fit the bill and also it is impossible to approach known stars, when you are a rank new comer from outside.

Why did you not take on stars?

I do not need stars. I need proper tools to make my films. Mind you I have absolutely no aversion at all to make a film with stars. If I cast a star, I should see to it that I do justice to his or her persona. Otherwise what is the big idea of casting any star in your film?

Is there any director who has inspired you?

Though it is a fact that no director till date has inspired me, I do watch the films of Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bharadwaj, Farhan Akhtar, Ramgopal Varma, Shmit Amin and David Dhawan, for the simple fact that they have left their imprints with their films and hence are trend setters, especially because there are clones too who have set out to copy them.

Is it true that Richard Gere is keen on watching “Soch Lo’?

Bollywood new age cinema is truly going international. It is a rare honor that Richard Gere is going to see my film at the first ever screening of any Indian film at the Paramount Pictures Raleigh Theatre, Los Angeles. “Soch Lo’ has added a feather to its cap by being the first in several aspects including its funding as well as screening. This acclaim is a testimony to our efforts, perseverance and performance

What was the toughest aspect of the film?

Acting and emoting without dialogues was the most difficult part especially right in the beginning of the film. When we conceived the script, we were very clear that the first 13 minutes of the film will have an intense yet silent performance. I derived from various meditation tools and techniques like Vipassana to bring about that dynamic silence that would grip the viewers and hold their attention right in the beginning of my film.

How did you manage to get the funds to launch your film?

“Soch Lo’ is the first Indian film to upload its showreel on YouTube to accumulate funds for completion. The response was path breaking. Besides the fact that I had absolutely no experience, I had no funding or backing at all. Starting with just $400, we raised funds up to $ 1, 00,000 through YouTube, friends, acquaintances and the full length cutting edge flick was ready

Is it true that you have already thought of making a sequel?

As an actor, I had to curtail my rebellious streaks even though the film is quite intense. It was a challenge to raise funds for the film but we were very clear that we did not want any sympathy but participation honestly. The content and the support have paid us such rich dividends that the sequel to “Soch Lo’ was conceptualized even before its release.

– Jyothi Venkatesh / Sampurn Wire

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