Paani and Pahuna: Priyanka Chopra’s interesting productions

‘Paani is all about good content’

What is the story of ‘Paani’ about?
It is about the severe drought situation in Marathwada and the shortage of potable water in many districts and villages. Our film is set in a village in Nanded called Nagdarwadi where, due to the efforts of one man, Hanumant Kendre, the situation is improved. He brings water into the village due to water harvesting. It is his noble effort which is highlighted in the film. It is a film with good content and a good message of water conservation.

How did Priyanka Chopra come into the picture?
I had a friend called Rashmi Kulkarni in her team and through her, I approached Priyanka with the script of ‘Paani’. She liked it immensely and agreed to produce the film. She and her mother Dr Madhu Chopra have been like real pillars for us. They did everything they could for my film and not once did they interfere; even though Priyanka, an international figure and very busy, was always in touch with me, asking about the progress of the film and how the script was shaping up.

Did you think of making a proper commercial film?
I don’t understand art or commerce but I understand what a good film is — a good story told with good content and a good message. And mine is a film with good content.

What is the cast of the film like?
The cast comprises Rucha Vaidya, Subodh Bhave, Kishor Kadam, Girish Joshi, Rajit Kapoor and me.

Do you take the advice of your famous father — actor, producer and director Mahesh Kothare?
Yes. He is always ready to help me out and I always make it a point to take his advice when I need it.

‘Pahuna will be a niche release’

Tell us about your journey in filmmaking…
g My husband Abbas Tyrewalla is a filmmaker who had made the popular film Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Naa and I had assisted him at that time. I was the casting director for the film and even choreographed a song for the film which became very popular. I have also made a much-acclaimed short film called Kajal. I was a model and also acted in films like Jhoota Hi Sahi with John Abraham and Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai. Initially, I had thought of making a big budget romantic comedy, but then Abbas and I thought that if the film flops, no one will give us the money for our low budget Sikkimese film. We then thought of making Pahuna: The Little Visitors, which is officially the first Sikkimese film. Earlier there have been Nepalese and other language films which had Sikkimese actors and crew members but Pahuna is the first film made entirely with a Sikkimese crew and cast, shot entirely on the locations of Sikkim.

How did you convince Priyanka Chopra to fund the film?
I approached Priyanka with my script and she liked it very much and decided to fund the film. However, what we had conceived as a Rs 30 — Rs 40 lakh film, shot up to Rs 1.5 crore, but Priyanka backed us completely. The Sikkimese State Government helped us monetarily and even the Central Government readily agreed to fund us and therefore we could complete this film despite the tough logistics.

What is the story of the film like?
It is a tale of three small children who get lost on the Nepal-Sikkim border and how they finally get united with their parents after much hardships. Pahuna means a guest in the language. There are five beautiful songs composed by Sagar
Desai.

Will your film have a commercial release?
We already been part of the festival circuit and have got many national and international awards too in festivals like Toronto International Film Festival. The film will be a niche release.

Who inspires you as a filmmaker?
Vishal Bhardwaj inspires me a lot.

What’s next?
Abbas and I are working on a film and we will announce it soon.

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