Making a multi-hero project is challenging in the Indian film industry, says filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar, who believes many interesting stories remain untold because of the lack of interest the makers show in backing ensembles.
Nambiar, who is receiving positive reviews for his multi-starrer revenge drama Taish, says he had a hard time casting for the film as most of the actors in Bollywood are not willing to work in a two or three hero project.
The ZEE5 film, which premiered last week, is the filmmaker's fifth directorial feature after Shaitan, David, Wazir and Solo. It features actors Pulkit Samrat, Kriti Kharbanda, Jim Sarbh and Harshvardhan Rane in lead roles.
Nambiar, 41, says mounting a film in India is in itself a tedious process and a story with multiple characters makes the job tougher.
This industry takes long to set up a film and mount it, especially if you are trying to tell a story and not a regular entertainer. There are too many challenges one has to navigate through while making a film. And if you are making an ensemble, it's a bigger task, the director told PTI in an interview.
Our industry is wary of two hero films and ensembles. Even bigger filmmakers find it difficult to cast for an ensemble. So casting for Taish was a huge challenge. It is almost a three actor project. I'm grateful to people who came on board as initially casting the movie was a big challenge, he added.
Nambiar's first feature length project Shaitan was a multi-starrer featuring young actors Rajeev Khandelwal, Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Devaiyah, Shiv Panditt, Neil Bhoopalam, Kirti Kulhari, Rajkummar Rao.
Similarly, David featured Tamil star Vikram, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Tabu, Monica Dogra, Lara Dutta and Isha Sharvani while Wazir had screen icon Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar and Aditi Rao Hydari.
The director-producer says after working on so many ensemble projects in his over one decade-long career, he has realised in Indian film industry, creators, artistes and producers are scared to propose a multi-hero project.
In Indian film industry there is not enough faith in artistes, filmmakers and producers to touch upon any such subject. I don't think there are many people sitting and writing ensembles right now.
Nambiar says comedy is the only genre where writers have the luxury of penning a story featuring more than one actor.
They write it for comedies, but not for thrillers and dramas. Because of which we won't be able to touch upon a lot of subjects. I feel more and more actors should be taking risks and become part of interesting ensembles, he added.
Citing the example of David Fincher's 2007 mystery thriller Zodiac, which featured Hollywood stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Candy Clark, and Dermot Mulroney, among others, the director said the film is a perfect example of secure artistes coming together to create a masterpiece.
In the West so many big people come together, even if it is a small part, to help the story come to life. It shows how much secure they are as an artiste.
Nambiar says Taish was a passion project for him and he is grateful to the cast of the film for giving their best.
All the actors got their A game on. Individually the way the actors approached their roles really lifted the story up, he said.
Taish has also been released as a mini-series, and for Nambiar converting the story into a bite-sized episodic was an organic process.
“I remember pitching Taish'to some people and they had said it would make a good series, but I was hell bent on making it as a feature film. But once I made the film and showed it to people, then also some said they will like to watch it as a bite-sized episodic. That's what made me revisit the edit. I learned it while working on it.
Nambiar started his movie journey at the onset of the decade, when digital medium was still trying to find its footing in India, but in the past few years, the filmmaker says the entertainment industry has evolved at a rapid pace.
He believes the influx of streaming platforms has opened multiple avenues for creative brains to showcase their work.
There are so many good people out there right now bridging the gap between mediums. So the generation of filmmakers before them, like me, we are also seeing that happening in front of us. We are also trying to adapt to the change and balance between making content both for big screen as well as digital space. It's a very interesting time.
The director is currently working on a show for Dharma Productions with Bollywood superstar Madhuri Dixit-Nene.
Nambiar is directing four episodes for the series.
It's quite exciting. We are resuming work post lockdown. She is a matinee idol. I have always admired her from afar and now when I have got an opportunity to work with her I feel fortunate, he said.