An actor is normally approached for an on-screen job, however, Juhi Chawla, 43, was stumped when director Onir contacted her for not acting in his new project, I Am, but to finance it. “But when I heard the concept of his movie I just couldn’t help myself and volunteered to be a part of the movie as an actor too,” says Chawla, who was at the HT House recently along with the director and co-star Sanjay Suri.
Chawla is also excited she got to rub shoulders with her one time professional rival Manisha Koirala in one of the short stories I Am Megha in the four-story anthology.
“We were overwhelmed with the response that people gave when we would run out of cash and post it on Facebook. The willingness showed by the people to be a part of this project has been an encouraging experience” shared Suri. For Onir, the affection of people was the most moving part while bringing the idea on celluloid. “Besides the money some people sent us even lunch and cabs. Even the cat we used in the movie has been volunteered by someone,” says the director.
No compromise with aesthetics
We were short on money but did not want to compromise with the artistic essence of what we wanted to bring out. You don’t want all the soul searching ideas to go waste. It does take time but at the end of the day, people recognise the hard work you put in.
The power of social media made it possible As director Onir applied the final touches to I Am, he paused to pay tribute to the 400 people who responded to his Facebook campaign to help finance the project. “Thank you all for being a part of I Am,” the filmmaker wrote on his Facebook page remembering that the first donation that came was for Rs 1,000 by a student.
Producers were expectedly scared off by the “risque” content, one critic said. The movie explores subjects considered a taboo in India, from child sexual abuse to police harassment of gay men and a single woman’s search for a sperm donor. For Onir, the fact that the film is finally releasing is both a personal triumph and an acknowledgment of the power of social media sites to mobilise campaigns.
With inputs from AFP