No item songs, no outdoor locations, no star cast, no pomp and panache, just a sweet, slice of life film about a boy waking up to his responsibilities in life. This couldn’t possibly be a Dharma Productions film, could it?
Wake Up Sid! was us experimenting with a different genre of film making, a new treatment brought about by a new sensibility. Urban Mumbai, crackling with a youth culture that oscillates between the dormant and wane and the ambitious and driven, the premise of the film was simple, and the sensibility behind it unadulterated. Admittedly, for the first time I was unsure on the Thursday night before the release.
Unsure of whether people would get as swept away with the film as I did, unsure that they might not succumb to the charm the film supplied in abundance. Sid woke up and hit the ground running. As a producer, I woke up too. There is an audience, and, equally important, a market for films like ours, and it makes every paisa spent, money well invested. Wake Up Sid! was a film that started with a question mark and ended with an exclamation mark! Fortunately for all of us, that uncertainty washed away over the weekend that followed and has given me the confidence to venture into unknown spaces.
The feedback I’ve been getting from old friends has been overwhelming. Messages have been coming in about people relating to Sid’s plight and identifying with his coming of age. The feedback is heartening. After all, ‘relatable’ films aren’t really what we do here at Dharma. Ultimately a film needs to have an emotional connect that should go home with you hours after watching it. But we’ve all fallen prey to formulas and have been reluctant to creep out of our comfort zones. And sometimes all it takes is a small film, and that did, that spoke to a section of our audience about a reality that most of us have experienced and were happy to relive again, to reinstall faith in a change that is good and always welcome.
The gratification we feel falls short of words, but simply said, thank you to everyone who enjoyed it, and a double thanks to those who watched it again. The entire cast and crew of Wake Up Sid! were a young, energetic bunch who eat, sleep, dream films, and for them, this big success for their small film will make them bolder, better filmmakers and will show them that they can make the films they want to make, and there will be people standing behind them, and helping them pave their way. A week after the release, I’m thrilled to be able to accept some of the credit for the success of the film, but my real pride is for the young talent of this industry who set out to make something that meant something to them and succeeded. To Ayan, who put everything into this film and worked tirelessly, take a bow, take a break, and dream up some new ideas, but wake up soon, because we have work to get to!
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org