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Movie-making on a wing and a prayer

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TO NDR Harman Baweja 1 (40752845)

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WOWED: Harman Baweja in a scene from Dishkiyaaoon.

Now this one really caught us by surprise. Believe it or not Harman Baweja’s comeback film, Dishkiyaaoon, was actually conceptualised as a short film. Its duration was meant to be 15 minutes and first-time director Sanamjit Talwar, who had come from America to India to make a career in Bollywood, just wanted the short film to act as a show reel for him.

“Since Sanamjit didn’t have any Bollywood backing, he realised the best way to showcase his talent would be by making a short film and presenting it to the actors and producers.

“He came up with a 15-page script for Dishkiyaaoon and happened to have a chance meeting with Harman at his father, Harry Baweja’s, office,” says a source. That was when Harman’s What’s Your Raashee? had released and the actor was looking for an appropriate film to work on.

But Sanamjit did not intend making a full-length feature film at the time and so offered the short film to Harman.

Says the 35-year-old director, “Though in Hollywood you can approach actors for short films, Bollywood has its own system, so it was understandable when Harman gave me that look on being offered the part.”

As a courtesy, Harman did ask Sanamjit to narrate the script though. As luck would have it, the actor was bowled over with what he heard and instantly suggested Sanamjit come back with a script for a full-length feature film on the same subject.

Harman promised that if it was as good as the 15 pages Sanamjit had written for the short film, he would be game for Dishkiyaaoon.

“My idea of making a 15-minute film had now graduated to a two-hour film,” he said.

The director recalls how the first actor for the movie was signed for a paltry sum of 5 000 Rupees (just over R867)...

Talented Prashant Narayanan was roped in for this sum to play the part of Mota Tony.

Sanamjit Talwar, recalls: “That was back in 2011 when I had first envisioned Dishkiyaaoon as a 15-minute short film. I needed an actor for the part of Mota Tony.

“Since Prashant is a friend, I could just tell him he had to be in my film. However, I didn’t have any money on me then… Poor guy, he agreed… That was the first signing amount for my film.”

Later,

with Harman on board, everything fell into place and the rest, as they say, is history, what with Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra and Sunil Lulla joining the cast.

“However Prashant’s place was intact. His part was also fleshed out in the two-hour film,” says Sanamjit.

As for the fee, a few more zeroes have been added to the original amount. “Of course I let him keep that 5000,” says Sanamjit.

“That’s my gratitude to him for being the first on my film.”

There were other interesting casting decisions made in the process of putting together this action-drama-thriller with its gangster backdrop.

“Like for example the part of Rocky Chu$ia. I was facing some difficulty in getting just the right actor for the part.

“This is where my producer Shilpa Shetty suggested I try out Anand Tiwari. He came across as someone so different from my imagination… However, the way he has performed is so fabulous that today I feel no one else could have done it so brilliantly,” says Sanamjit of the youngster.

Incidentally, this was one of the only casting suggestions by Shilpa as the actors were mainly Sanamjit’s choice.

“There couldn’t have been a more hassle-free set up as Shilpa just gave me a free hand,” says Sanamjit. “She never asked me about the whys and the how’s. She has been a fantastic producer.”

– bollywoodhungama.com

• Dishkiyaaoon releases on March 28. It stars Sunny Deol, Harman Baweja, Ayesha Khanna, Aditya Pancholi and Prashant Narayanan.

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