Abhishek Agarwal is a renowned producer down South. However, the massive success of his latest release, The Kashmir Files, has made him a filmmaker to reckon with across India. Directed by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, it stars Anupam Kher in a pivotal role. The Free Press Journal caught up with him for an exclusive chat. Excerpts:
Did you accept such a stupendous success of The Kashmir Files?
No, not at all. We never expected the success at the beginning of the release so soon. We were hopeful of receiving a good box office response slowly and gradually. We were expecting the audience to understand the emotions in a while. This film is a very small budget film, and we couldn’t afford huge publicity. The making of The Kashmir Files journey is very different for us.
What were the emotions of the cast and technicians on the sets?
Anupamji (Kher), myself and Vivekji would shed tears after every scene. People out there, especially most of the Kashmiri Pandits, would bring lunch for us literally every day. I don’t remember having relished food from outside. A lady who must have been about 85 years old would feed us food. Everyone was dead sure we were not making this film to earn a bag-full of booty. We were not inclined commercially at all.
How did you make and complete this film?
Because of the Covid-19, it took us four years to complete this film. We shot in the US, Canada and the UK. Also, about 4,000 testimonials whose stories we went to listen to in order to gather facts. Everything has been documented. While shooting, a few Kashmiri locales were also involved. We could not add any item numbers. There is no space for any songs and music to entertain people.
Do you agree the film did well because of the issue related to Hindu-Pandits?
Everyone has a set audience. The audience’s choice has changed with The Kashmir Files. We have no entertainment or songs, but the film did well. I was not fearful of bringing the truth to the celluloid.
Your film was released during the elections. Was it planned?
Politics and films are two different professions. In fact, our film was released even before the UP elections took place.
What are your future projects?
Vivek’s The Delhi Files has been announced, and I’m the producer. The era that we had decided to depict we are now re-working on it. We want to bring about some changes, and hence discussions are going on for the same.
Will you portray The Delhi Files from the Independence Era of 1947?
It’s very early to divulge any information right now. Yes, this will be a pan India film. Iss par baat bhi chal rahi hai.
What are you planning next?
We are doing a film titled Tiger Nageswara Rao. It is a biopic in Telugu. It’s a pan India film, and Ravi Teja is the hero. Its budget is around Rs. 80 crores. We are going to cast three heroines and are in the process of finalising all of them one by one. This film will begin shooting sometime next month. It’s a periodic film, so majorly it will be shot on sets. I have my own studios. The director is Vamsee.
You are also planning a biopic on India’s former President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam...
Dr. Abdul Kalam’s biopic will be a pan-India film. The main role will be performed by Paresh Rawal. It’s in the process. I have the NOC from the family for all languages and all mediums. We have shown them the script, and they have given a green signal to the script as well. The film will surely go on the floors. We will be shooting it mostly in Rameswaram, New Delhi and other locations.