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'Sooper se Ooper is my desire to connect with India’

After having made close to 800 ad films, Kitu Ghosh is ready to present to us a side of Rajasthan we’ve never seen before. His film Sooper se Ooper promises to be a humor backed flick with some solid performers  like Deepak Dobriyal, Vir Das, Gulshan Grover and more. An interview with this bundle of positive energy, that is Kitu:

What made an ad filmmaker transform into to a feature film director?
See the audience that we are catering to, as ad filmmakers, is essentially the same as those we cater to as filmmakers, except that in films we get a larger space to tell and sell our stories.  So after having done approximately 800 plus ads, it was a natural progression for me.  It also gives me scope to tell different stories and build on characters.

Advertising filmmaking is a better training ground for the real world, than film school. Your thoughts?
I would completely agree with that. In that we are trained to tell a story in a very short span and to tell it so effectively that the audience latches on to it. Also we can stretch the boundaries to the whole world in advertising storytelling, as opposed to being in the structures of film school story telling, which by no means  is to pull down film schools or their graduates, but advertising certainly has its strong points as you are pushing the limits on a regular basis.

When does the film Sooper se Ooper
release?

It releases on October 25th. It is written and directed by me and based on an Indian superstition that making a will (legal document) is an indication that that your time has come to an end. The story revolves around the character of Ranvir, whose fortune has dwindled and selling his ancestral property may just be the way out of the situation but he runs into a problem as the ancestral land was not willed to him by his parents. His fortune is in the dumps and selling his ancestral land in Mumbai is the only way to survive. Then there is Kukreja, who has put all on stake has to get this land to stay away from the wrath of a bhai and also achieve his dream of becoming a builder eventually! But the key to the land is Ranvir’s mama Madho Singh Rathor in Mandwa, Rajasthan. Since the will wasn’t made in Ranvir’s name, so mama has to give the NOC. Ranvir has to get Mama to Mumbai within a month and Kukreja has to stop him from reaching Mumbai.

Tell us about your cast.
We see the transformation of our protagonist Ranvir, played by Vir Das, who has done a wonderful job, from a materialistic city youth to someone who is all for family and values and the antagonist Kukreja, played by Deepak Dobriyal, from a dalla to a gangster through this journey, which has some other real and funny characters as well such as Yashpal Sharma. Vir Das, who was diagnosed with dengue, had been advised complete bed rest but he decided to dub for the film from his house and also did the promotions.
Gulshan Grover will be seen in a quirky new avatar, as a don. Grover will play the role of Vir Das' uncle Mama-ji, Madho Singh Rathore, a bhai and the inspiration for the character's mannerisms and look came from MF Hussain to an extent. Grover will also be seen carrying around a brush at all times, which was a known habit of Husain.
After playing an aspiring actress in Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan, Kirti Kulhari will be seen playing a similar role in Sooper Se Ooper. She's playing the role of Gulabo, the queen of Kalbeliya. She has been putting in a lot of hard work to prepare for the role. Kriti, who analysed her acting in Shaitan, has undergone rigorous workshops to get into the skin of her character. Kirti got to sit atop camel carts and is wearing salwar- kameez and lehenga-choli in the movie and is playing Gulshan Grover’s daughter.

It must be challenging to pull of your first film, which does not have the traditional luxury of stars?

Challenges are good, I would not want it any other way. The challenges came in the form of convincing the actors, the film backers, but I guess deep inside it starts with your own conviction. That has always been my strongest point and that is able to overcome and convince others. The film has been made under the banner of Reliance Entertainment and Jigsaw Entertainment.

On your choice of cast, Deepak Dobriyal and Vir Das are amazing actors, but not necessarily the big stars of today?
When I was writing the script, the mental picture I had of the lead character was the comic book character of Asterix and I wanted to bring in that kind of quirk to the character and create a character who is a Rajastani, who has never lived in Rajasthan. Your stereotypical Rajasthani would be a tall 6-feet character with big large moustaches. And when he shows up in his own home town, he is asked by one and all, as to how can he consider himself from Rajasthan? He is kind of a bunny rabbit in the film. There are very limited people in India who can act and at the same time have a great comic timing and it was a challenge to find that right character, until we came across Vir, who has fit into that character like a glove. Deepak’s character is like a vulture, so for the rabbit, he is the counter character. He is not your traditional villain, the situation turns him into the antagonist. He is actually a buffoon, who stumbles upon this goldmine which he does not want to let go, but just want to emphasize that he is not your traditional out and out gangster, it is the film that makes him do, what he does. So this way, each character was a very thought out choice and I am happy I ended up getting my choices.

Why this story?
There was definitely a desire to connect with the people of India.  The Hollywood and traditional storytelling around Rajasthan involved images of grandeur and forts and what have you. But in my view Rajasthan is more about the people. They are like the wild west of India. The Rajputs, who are found in both Haryana and Rajasthan, which shares a common border, are like the wild west, in a very quirky manner. In my observation of its people, I thought there was a great story to tell here. The film is split in two halves, one part is set in Rajasthan and one is shot in gritty Mumbai. In Rajasthan, we shot in Mandwa and Jaipur. The first half is about the city going to the village and the second half is vice versa. So it is basically the clash of two cultures in a very quirky manner. I mean picture the villagers coming to the big city, it is almost like a Crocodile Dundee kind of situation, and like there, he is sharp, I mean villagers are not idiots, they are inherently smart who observe and pick up the traits of the city, very quickly. So the characters as they see themselves, are not comic or quirky, but to the world outside they are perceived as humorous and therein lies the observation of life and people. Also the distinction between the word quirky and comedy is what I bring to the table.

We heard Sonu Nigam, who is composing music for the first time in this film, was very upset that the music did not get any publicity from the film’s producers?
Yes, he did tweet about it but now things are moving and the songs are getting a very good response. Sonu has driven the lyrics. He has just penned one track but he has driven all the songs. He is a brilliant writer and lot of credit for the lyrics goes to him. The music of the film is extremely original and peppy as it is composed by the legendary singer that is Sonu Nigam with years of experience in the industry and ace tabla player/percussionist Bickram Ghosh. They have composed seven songs for the film and made a very interesting and fresh album. The two have beautifully brought out the Rajasthani flavour in the songs by adding the folk elements. Sung by Amabarish Das and Parwati Kumari,
Gunn Gunn Gutarr
is a fun track which has been shot in the backdrop of Rajasthan. Even the quirky lyrics have been written in the native language by Sanjeev Tiwari which adds a traditional charm to Gunn Gunn Gutarr.  The songs display the clear divide between urban and rural space and have a very strong earthy feel of desi Rajasthani music mixed with modern, hip-hop sounds of Mumbai. There are tracks like Whacky Zindabad which has rap and then there are contrasts like Gunn Gunn Gutarr which is heavily influenced by folk Rajasthani music. Other songs are Behka Behka, Bajan De Dhol, Whacky Zindabad, Introducing Gul and Sapna Mera. For Introducing Gul, the lyrics are by Sonu Nigam and Shabbir Ahmed. Sonu Nigam has also lent his voice to Sapna Mera.

What else is going on in your creative life?

After this I have two other films on my plate, one which is a big project and one a quirky take on urban relationships.
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