Would you call a company you started Hit and Run films (etc)? Shabani Hassanwalia and Samreen Farooqui did, when they launched their company as Jamia’s final year mass communication students. "Hit and Run Films (etc) was set up because there was nowhere else to go, for the sort of cinema and experiences we wanted to be a part of," their company note reads.
When the two "met randomly at a party" for the first time, little did they imagine that they would be company partners one day. A few months later, they were consulting each other on applying for a master’s at Jamia. Shabani had been writing for First City before joining Jamia, and Samreen had been a producer with Riverbank Studios, a wildlife and environment film company.
Both cracked the entrance, ended up as classmates, and worked as a team on all projects. "We were still students when we made our first corporate film and needed a company name to put on the bill," says Samreen, 29, on why they christened their company so.
"‘Hit and Run’ sounded better than the other name we had — ‘Not Just A Lemon’," she says. The flip side of having an offbeat name for their production company? "Our first client said, ‘Thank you for everything, but here’s some advice: with a name like Hit and Run, you’ll never get work in the US — where there are so many hit and run cases. Don’t you think you should change it?’ So whenever times get hard, we think the name is jinxed...," quips Shabani, 27.
But for those who think they may be jinxed, the duo hasn’t done badly at all. They like to articulate in forms ranging from short films, audio-visuals, music videos and still pictures, but lean more towards documentaries. The aim? Fluid, non-regimented presentation.
Shabani divides her time between Hit and Run and writing for First City magazine, while Samreen also assists award-winning documentary filmmaker Sanjay Barnela as a cameraperson, editor and associate director. In the last two years, Shabani and Samreen have made eight short films, a music video and shot live concerts. Hit and Run’s Life of Bada Saab was among the eight films selected from the country to be produced and aired by Channel 4, UK, examining the theme of independence from the United Kingdom.
Village of Dust, City of Water, a film Samreen edited and assisted on, won the Best Environmental Film award at Wild Asia, 2007 in Singapore and was nominated for the Wildscreen Film Awards 2006 in Bristol. A film Shabani assisted on won the BAFTA Award commendation.
Currently, Hit and Run is doing custom-made video art for Delhi-based band Teddy Boy Kill’s show in Blue Frog, Mumbai. Also on the floors is their first feature-length documentary in Ladakh.
With lucrative projects under their belt, Shabani and Samreen now have their own office and space and editing suite. Life is all about lights, camera and lots of action.