Planet Bollywood
Interview with filmmaker Ruchi Narain
- Anish Mohanty           Let us know what you think about this feature article

There might have been a huge gap between filmmaker Ruchi Narain's first and second film but she has helmed some of the popular television commercials and have worked with the biggest of stars in the film business in the process. Her new film 'Hanuman Da' Damdaar' hits the theatres this weekend. In this interview, she talks about the gap between her two films, making a big animation film in India and future projects.

Your last film as a director released way back in 2005? What took you twelve long years to make your second feature film? I started making commercials and got busy in setting up a production company which is now known as RAT Films. I was supposed to make a film a couple of years back but that did not happen. Then, I developed an idea for an animation film and started working on it.

The kind of films you have been associated as a writer and a director were fairly offbeat and intense. They were the kind of films that are more accessible to the discerning audience. One would not have imagined you making an animation film. How did 'Hanuman Da' Damdaar' happen? After Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi released, I was asked what I want to do next. I said what I really want to do now is make an animation film. I get attracted to stories which are entertaining. The kind of films I have been associated in the past had a serious vibe to them but I really like bringing an element of fun and humour to my work. With 'Hanuman Da' Damdaar', I got the opportunity to play around with these elements. Every film has a bit of the filmmaker but this film has all of me in it.

Animation films do not have a huge market in India. The successes have been few and far in between. Did you take this into account before making this film? I was aware of it but at the same time, I feel the audience is receptive to all kinds of films. If you tell a good story in an entertaining way, I do not see any reason why would not appreciate it. I know the West has explored the genre far more successfully than we have but that does not mean there is a lack of interest for animation films in India.

This is not the first animation film on Lord Hanuman. What do you think 'Hanuman Da' Damdaar' offers to the audience which the other films have not? There are a couple of things. The entertainment value of the film is very high. It has a very contemporary setting to it. The characters speak in today's language. When you say today's language, people assume it is Hinglish but I wanted the dialogues to have a desi cool element to them. Mythological stories have been mostly presented in a slightly preachy manner. The characters are shown talking in an old-fashioned manner which they did not speak during those times anyways. What we have been seeing so far is a Victorian depiction of our mythology.

From getting some prominent names on board, including Salman Khan who has lent his voice for Lord Hanuman to recording the music score in Los Angeles, you seemed to have made sure that the scale of the film is bigger than any other animation film made in India. When I try to do something different or present something in a new way, it is never easy. You also do not know what the final outcome is going to be like. But, that does not mean you should not give it a shot. The belief and desire to do it in a big way was so strong that we just went for it. Making this film was a long and difficult process but the payoff was amazing. We thought of recording the score in Los Angeles as we felt the kind of scale it needed would only be achievable there. We did all this as we believed the film deserved a certain amount of backing and mounting and we have tried our best to give it that. The audience likes to see larger-than-life films and ''Hanuman Da Damdaar' is as larger-than-life as it gets.

RAT Films, the company that has produced 'Hanuman Da' Damdaar', was formed by Taher Shabbir, Ashutosh Shah and you five years back. You have made commercials with the biggest of stars. How do you plan to take the company forward? One thing that we are clear about is that we want to make films that break conventions and do not resort to clich?s. As we have a successful ad film company, we can afford to take risks and do things we believe in. We want to make films we are convinced about and not merely invest in projects. We are in the process of producing a romantic film, a hard-hitting contemporary thriller and a comedy. The next animation film is also being written. We want to do different things as the audience is also looking at having newer experiences and watching different kind of content. I think the genre does not really matter. As long as you are giving them something new in any genre, it will work.

Will you be directing any of the forthcoming films produced by the company? Yes, I am gearing up two direct two films for the company. One of them is 'A To Z', a love story and the other one is a thriller.


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