Despite a widely praised debut with A Wednesday, director Neeraj Pandey is in no hurry to keep all the days of his week busy. “I’m working on a couple of scripts. Besides, my company Friday Film Works, which is also the film’s original producer, is in talks with some producers for future movies.”
Born and brought up in Kolkata, Pandey moved to New Delhi, where he graduated in English. He “learnt the ropes, on the job” with Legacy Entertainment, a company started by the Dalmia group to make television programs.
In 2000, he moved to Mumbai, where he made documentaries and ad films. Along with his colleague Sheetal Bhatia, he formed Quarter Inch Productions, to make television programmes, ad films and documentaries. “Making feature films was the natural progression,” he says, adding, “Then we formed Friday Film Works. The July 11 blasts led to the script of A Wednesday. A lot of information came from the real incidents that followed.”
That first script
Not many know that 34-year-old Pandey’s first attempt at feature filmmaking was the Basic Instinct-inspired Khaffa, with Jimmy Sheirgill, Kim Sharma and Hrishitaa Bhatt. “I’ve no clue about it,” he says. “(Director) Deven Dholakia finished shooting it. Then I don’t know what happened.”
Recalling the time he went about casting Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah as the two principal characters, he says, “They were my first choices. So naturally, I sent the script to them. They reverted saying they liked it. So I can’t say who else I would have approached if they had declined for some reason.”
He elaborates, “Then I bounced the idea to Anjum Rizvi, whom I’ve known before. He liked the subject and the casting. When UTV heard about them film, it took over. We finished shooting in 28 days. Right from casting to completing the film, it took me about eight months.”
On his own
Reportedly, UTV which bought the film’s rights from Rizvi and him, delayed the release because of its own production Mumbai Meri Jaan, also based on the July 11 Mumbai local train serial blasts. Tell him this and he shrugs, “ That’s something only the people at UTV will be able to tell you. But from what I know, they were working out a marketing and promotion plan and released it accordingly.”
Pandey asserts that he will make his films for his own production banner or as co-productions from now on.