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The adventures of 'HULLA'

IndiaGlitz [Tuesday, September 09, 2008]

     The film script was written in 2001 and took seven years to see the light of day. Several directors and actors including Pankaj Kapur, Konkona Sensharma and Saif Ali Khan (actors) and Rajit Kapur (director) were associated and still the film didn't find a producer. Finally, when it did, it was for a very small budget. That's how the film got made.

      Sushant Singh was a constant ever since Jaideep Varma became the director. He was the non negotiable element for him (along with Indian Ocean for music) and the project was non-viable for a lot of producers for that reason, and despite pressure from various producers to drop him as the main lead, Jaideep adamantly stuck with him. He believed in Sushant's ability to pull this role off and eventually it has paid off.

      The film has been executed largely by first timers. The entire direction team including the director, the cinematographer, the editor, were first timers. The sound designer was doing his second film and the art director was getting his first individual credit. The leading lady was in her first Hindi film, and a 70 year-old actor was making his film debut. Moreover, both Rajat Kapoor and Sushant Singh were doing their most unusual roles in the context of their careers so far. Most importantly, the director had not even been on fiction film set once in his life, and the Chief Assistant Director had never assisted on a feature film, and his assistants had never been on any film set. No wonder the producer Sunil Doshi was nervous.

      Chandrachood Karnik debuts in the film at the age of 70 plus. He was the most enthusiastic member of the cast and crew, the most punctual and the liveliest. And the most sincere and hardest working. He spent a lot of time with the director rehearsing his part. Mr Karnik is well known for essaying the role of the MTV liftman a few years ago. This is his first feature film.

    Datta Sonwane, despite being in a small role of Sr Inspector Pophale, is one of the finds of the film. He came to the auditions armed with a massive mobile phone which had clips of all the film work he had done. In all the clips he was getting beaten up by either the villain or the hero. Every single clip had him getting thrashed. For Hulla, he initially auditioned for a small role but he was so outstanding that the director found a bigger role for him. His performance never fails to get smiles.

      The director Jaideep Varma is fundamentally a writer. He published a novel called Local in 2005. Being an Indian-published book, it made him so little money that he had no choice but to look for alternative ways of earning a living. The script of Hulla was written by him in 2001 for an NRI friend of his who was studying filmmaking in New York. This was to be his first film. But that didn't work out, nor did the other director who took over the project after him. Finally, Jaideep took back the script in 2004 and went to Rajat Kapoor to guage his interest in direct the film. After spending some time with Jaideep and after reading the script, Rajat felt that Jaideep himself would be the best person to direct this film as his conviction and passion for this material was likely to be unsurpassed. When Rajat suggested this to Jaideep, it was the first time this thought of directing had even entered his head. Gradually, even he realized it was the best option for this particular material - which was largely autobiographical.

      Rajat Kapoor plays a middle class loser for the first time on the big screen. For a man used to playing the smooth corporate city slicker in many film, tv and ad appearances, this was quite a change.

      India's most significant music band Indian Ocean gave music for this film largely because of their friendship with Jaideep - the director of the film. Of the four, at least three of them thought it was a strange idea, extremely hard to pull off. When they saw the finished film, at least 3 of the four thought it was excellent and far beyond their expectations. This the first film of theirs releasing after the iconic Blck Friday. Sadly, due to the low budgets of the film, there is no soundtrack album.

      Jaideep Varma and Vrajesh Hirjee were colleagues in an ad agency called Everest in the early 1990s. They used to sit next to each other when Vrajesh was just beginning to act in plays. When he had to make a call about shifting full-time to acting, he took Jaideep to Caf Excelsior (which still produces the greatest Biryani in the world) and asked him if he should go for it. Jaideep encouraged him to wholeheartedly (and no doubt others did too) and the rest is history. Now, all these years ago, when Jaideep was making his first film, and he approached Vrajesh to be a part of it, he could not say no.

      Hulla is a realistic comedy, a rarity these days. More in the mould of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Sai Paranjpe than any other kind of cinema, but in today's sensibility (it was a wonderful coincidence that Sai Paranjpe was present during the first public screening of Hulla during the Osian film festival). There are no dance floors, guns or stars in the film. No cleavage, no item numbers, hell, not even a love angle. Hopefully, the humour and the wit will compensate.

      For Kartikadevi Rane, this was her first Hindi film (she has done a Marathi feature film before this). She is from a royal family and her uncle is the Chief Minister of Goa (though she does not want to harp on her family connection) and she has been doing very selective projects. She liked this script and the set-up. For the director, the most memorable moment with her was when she performed in the last scene of the film, where just one expression of her's reduced onlookers to tears, even though most of them did not know the context of the scene in the film.



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