In the line of production
On a sunny winter afternoon, he arrives looking crisp, sporting the rugged aviator look. He wants us to begin the conversation with his latest project, What The Fish, instead of letting the conversation take its natural course.chandigarh Updated: Dec 16, 2013 10:25 IST
On a sunny winter afternoon, he arrives looking crisp, sporting the rugged aviator look. He wants us to begin the conversation with his latest project, What The Fish, instead of letting the conversation take its natural course.
So far, line producer Vishal Bajaj, 31, has done several films that involve actors Emran Hashmi, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor, Nasserudin Shah, Manoj Vajpai, Adil Hussain, Pankaj Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee, among others. So, what’s special about What The Fish, you ask? Isn’t your debut project always special?
"Made on a budget of Rs 1 crore, What The Fish was shot in 2011, but took much longer to release. It was the first film that launched me as a line producer and my line production company, Shoot at Site. What The Fish’s director Gurmeet Singh is also one of the founding members of the production company," says Bajaj.
Though Bajaj has his roots in Punjab, his jargon, with glaring swear words, proves that he is now a typical Mumbai wala. “I was born in Bagha Purana in Moga, was raised in Chandigarh and did my computer engineering from Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Hyderabad. This was followed by a shot at getting into FTII, to give my acting ka keeda a chance, but to no avail. I finally landed up at the Department of Indian Theatre, Panjab University.”
His journey, which started as an assistant director for films such as Partition, Jodha Akhar, Teen Thay Bhai and Yuvvraj, was followed up by Aamir Khan’s Talaash (as a unit production manager) and AXN’s Ice Road Truckers and Warning (as a line producer). Presently, his list of big banner upcoming films include Danis Tanovic’s White Lies (featuring Emraan Hashmi), Homi Adajania’s direction and Saif Ali Khan’s Illuminati Films’ production Finding Fanny Fernandes, Neeraj Pandey’s production Saat Ucheke and Sriram Raghvan’s untitled film starring Varun Dhawan and Aliya Bhatt.
Bajaj’s experience visibly lends a touch of honesty to his dialogue. “Production is a thankless job. Initially, tinsel town lures you, but slowly, everything starts fading. Then, it gets difficult to
survive in a city where prices for everything are going through the roof.”
Then, what helped him reach where he is? “The industry works on relationships. It all depends on who knows whom and how well they know each other. I have been lucky enough to get the right projects at the right time. My circle in the industry is also full of Punjabis,” says he.
The word ‘Punjabis’ reminds him of a Punjabi film he wants to produce: “Unlike others, I don’t see myself directing a film; I’m not made for direction. Producing films is what I want to do. I’m looking forward to producing a Punjabi comedy called Fencing, which revolves around the Partition and is based in a village named Jamshed Mohaar, near the border of Ferozpur. Irrfan Khan and Pankaj Kapoor have been locked for the project. Though I’m in talking terms with Saif Ali Khan’s Illuminati Films, the scriptwriter has also talked to Akshay Kumar for funds.”
For the uninitiated, producers are of two types — ones who themselves fund the film and the others who source the funding. Bajaj plans to adopt the latter approach and subsequently move up to the former.