While it is quite common for actors and directors to turn producers, one has come across very few instances of music composers becoming film producers. Known for his melodies in films like ‘Commando’, ‘Namaste England’, ‘Commando 2’ and ‘Commando 3’, composer Mannan Shaah decided to produce ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’ as he believed it was a story that must be told. The Vihan Suryavanshi directed Marathi feature film releases in theatres on September 16.
In this interview, the debutante producer talks about the challenges associated with handling production duties, what propelled him towards donning a producer’s hat, getting a Malayalam composer to do the score for his Marathi film, upcoming projects and more.
What led you towards becoming a producer?
Honestly, I had never planned on becoming a producer. Eight years back, Vihan was supposed to make ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’ in Hindi. I was composing the music for the film and Javed Akhtar saab was writing the lyrics. Because of some reason, the producer backed out of the project and the film couldn’t be made then. All of us were really disappointed as we really believed in the script. After a while, Vihan got an opportunity to direct a film for Rohit Shetty whom he had assisted on multiple films. That film will release shortly after ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’ comes out.
When Vihan and I spoke sometime in 2020, Vihaan proposed the idea of me producing ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’. He knew that I was deeply attached to the script and what it was trying to convey. He wanted to make the film in Marathi as the sensibilities of the film are very much rooted in Maharashtra. I thought about it for a few days and then, decided to produce the film myself. I was always very fond of the script. It is a very rooted story and the kind that can appeal to a large audience.
The theme of the film seems to be friendship.
The film is not just about friendship. It is about relationships as a whole and covers a gamut of emotions. The relatibility of the script is its biggest strength. When people watch the film, they will be reminded of their college days and the beautiful moments they spent with their friends during those magical days.
Despite being a composer yourself, you decided to take a backseat and composed just one song (‘Houn Jau De’) for your debut production feature. Why?
I had composed ‘Houn Jau De’ a long time back when the film was supposed to be made in Hindi. That song stayed with us throughout the long journey this film has had. Even when Vihan decided to make the film in Marathi, he wanted it to be used in the film. It is the campaign song for our film and has become very popular. ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’ is my first film as a producer, so I wanted to be fully focused on the production aspect of it. I was completely occupied with my duties as a producer and didn’t have the time that one needed to give to put the entire soundtrack together.
Shaan Rahman is one of the most sought after composers in the Malayalam film industry. However, he had never worked on a Marathi film before. Why did you get a Malayalam film composer to compose for a Marathi film?
Vihan listens to a lot of Malayalam music and suggested that we get somebody from there to compose the music for the film. He has been a big admirer of Shaan Rahman’s music and approached him to do the score. Shaan has composed three beautiful songs for the film. The background, put together by Mujeeb Majeed, is of international standards. We briefed Shaan about the situations for which we needed the song. By the next morning, he had three compositions ready. In ten days, we had recorded the entire album.
Which is the biggest challenge you faced as a first-time producer?
Every day was a challenge and I learnt a lot during the process of producing this film. I am not an experienced producer. For me, this film served as a training ground. The entire team worked very hard to ensure the final product comes out well. We spent six months on the pre-production process. We scouted close to 320 locations across Pune and Bengaluru. Out of that, we finalized 75 locations. In Pune itself, we shot at 55 different locations. Managing a crew of 200-250 people on a daily basis was tough. Our first major schedule, which lasted for 36 days, was very challenging. We shot the film during the second wave of Covid-19. It was a passion project and not a business venture for me. I feel happy to start my journey as a producer with ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’.
‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’ was originally designed as a Hindi film. Do you plan to remake it in Hindi in the future?
We have discussed this possibility. If we remake it in Hindi, the world of the film will be very different. It will be set in a different milieu and we would have to work towards getting the cultural nuances right of that particular place. The treatment of the film will be very different.
What are you doing next?
I gave a year and a half of my life to this film. Once it releases, I will be taking a long break. I will be releasing some singles independently in the near future. If I get the right scripts, I would want to produce more films.