Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan’s directorial debut, Lahore, has won several international honours, including the Special Jury Award at the Houston Film Festival, Best Actor (Aanaahad) at Tenerife (UK) and Salento (Italy), Most Aspiring Film Maker at the Filmmakers International Film Festival (UK). Now, Lahore has bagged the Indra Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director and Farooq Shaikh has been adjudged the Best Supporting Actor at the 57th National Film Awards. “It’s unbelievable!” exclaims Chauhan. “God willing, I will win many more awards but this one will always be special.”
He recalls how during the shoot, everyone was impressed with Sheikh’s ‘natural’ act. After the first cut, he told Sheikh who had signed Lahore after a decade-long hibernation, that it was his best performance. “Post the film’s release, I was convinced it would win him the National Award. I spoke to Farooq saab in Egypt on Wednesday and reminded him of this,” says Chauhan.
Lahore will now be remade in English. Scott Carr of Hollywood Gang that has produced movies like 300 and Everybody’s Fine, has bought the rights and is in the final stages of pre-production. “I’m expecting a visit to Mumbai soon and hoping to be signed to direct the remake too,” he says.
Having just locked his script, Chauhan will be flying to the US soon to finalise the cast and crew of his next film, and persuade NASA to let him into areas inaccessible to even Hollywood filmmakers. He’s hoping to get scientists and astronauts on board as technical advisors, since he wants his sci-fi set in the Indian subcontinent to be as authentic has Bollywood’s first kickboxing film.
He will rope in foreign technicians. Tony Leung was the action director of Lahore and Wayne Sharpe gave the background score: “I have another challenge for Wayne now, my new film is set in three different time zones and will use music to differentiate between them.”
He had roped in Lisbeth Scott for the vocals for Lahore. Now, Chauhan is hooked on to the voices of Lisa Gerrard, Gladiator’s Golden Globe winner, and Senegalese singer Baabaa Maal: “It’s an original Indian story that will be told in a western style and hopefully go beyond Hollywood.”
Sanjeev Lamba, CEO, Reliance Big Pictures: “We are delighted that between the four films (Paa, 3 Idiots, Abohoman, and Well Done Abba) produced by us and the one (Kutty Srank) that we released, Reliance Big Pictures has bagged d 14 National Awards.”
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Producer-Director of Delhi 6, Best Feature Film on National Integration: “The reason we made the film was to point to the lack of integration in our country stemming from misunderstadings between communities. So, this award is most apt. I’m overwhelmed!”
Vidhu Vinod Chopra Producer of 3 Idiots, Most Popular Film: “I returned from the US where I was working for pre-production of my next film only two days ago, and 48 hours later, I learn about the National Award. It’s a proud moment for our production house.”