Thursday, June 20, 2024

Director Santosh Singh spoke on the issue of nepotism: Said- This is a useless debate, here one's own talent comes in handy, the series 'Strategy' based on Balakot Air Strike is different from all others.

54 minutes agoAuthor: Ashish Tiwari

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After the films 'Fighter' and 'Operation Valentine', now the story of 'Balakot Air Strike' is going to be revealed to the people in the web series 'Strategy: Balakot and Beyond'. In this series made under the direction of Santosh Singh, Lara Dutta, Ashutosh Rana, Ashish Vidyarthi, Jimmy Shergill, Prasanna and many stars will be seen in important roles. Recently, during a special conversation with Dainik Bhaskar, director Santosh Singh called the issue of nepotism and outsiders a useless debate.

Tell us about 'Strategy: Balakot and Beyond', what kind of series is it?

This series is based on the Pulwama attack of 2019. How did the Pulwama attack happen, what happened behind it? How did we respond to Pulwama attack by striking Balakot? How did Pakistan respond to that? How did our pilots get captured there and how to bring them back? We have shown all these incidents in an interesting manner in 9 episodes. Each episode will be approximately 30 – 35 minutes long.

Director Santosh Singh

Director Santosh Singh

There are many veteran actors like Lara Dutta, Ashutosh Rana, Jimmy Shergill, Ashish Vidyarthi in this series. What was the atmosphere like on the set?

These people are great and experienced artists. It was a lot of fun working with such artists. If you told him one thing, he would show it by doing ten things. It seemed that everyone was such a big senior and a big artist. How will they be controlled? But these are such artists who surrender. Worked the way I wanted.

What has been the most challenging part in this series?

The most challenging part in this series has been research. It was not that any book has been written on this incident. Whatever we have come to know has come to light through news. We read news articles and also contacted everyone who knew about the incident. Went to real location. Talked to the local people there. In this way we collected a lot of data and gave it to our writing team. Everyone worked very hard together.

Films like 'Fighter' and 'Operation Valentine' have come on the same subject, how do you consider your series different from them?

We were the first to start working on this topic. It was supposed to be brought only on 15th August last year. But there was a lot of VFX in this series, on which a lot of work had to be done. In films like Fighter and Operation Valentine, everyone has shown that version in their own way. I think ours will be different from them because this is a series. We did not have a time limit of two hours. We had a chance to tell the story in full detail. We have tried not to make it unrealistic in any way. Will tell what is real. I believe that patriotism does not come through shouting and screaming, even without this we can fill the hearts of people with patriotism.

At which places was it shot?

Apart from Mumbai, Punjab, Patiala, Jammu Kashmir, Delhi, we have shot this series in Serbia. Many films are shot in Serbia. Permission for shooting defense scenes is easily available here.

You made a successful series like 'Broken But Beautiful' with Vikrant Massey, then did you know that he would achieve such a big position today?

Vikrant is a very good artist and a lovely person. It feels great that he is touching such heights with every film and series. Earlier I was not planning to direct this series. At that time I was working as a first assistant in Brahmastra and was in Bulgaria for two months. When I came back from there, I thought that I don't want to work as an assistant anymore.

I was trying to work in independent direction. At that time I was going to make a short film. Then I got a call from my friend Neeraj Kothari. He was making a series with some other director. But he was not getting things right. Sent me to read the script. At that time there was no such thing that I had to direct. I liked the script very much. I told Neeraj that I have read it, what to do? Then Neeraj told that I want you to direct it.

Before this, you have also done series like Ekta Kapoor's 'Apharan 2' and 'Fitrat'?

I started with Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Telefilms. You can call this the circle of life. When I thought of working in the industry and was struggling. That's when I started my career as a training assistant director with Balaji Telefilms' serial Kusum. My debut direction also started with Balaji's series 'Apharan 2' and 'Fitrat'. If I ever get a chance to work again, I will do it again.

On one hand, you worked as an assistant in 'Brahmastra' with Balaji Telefilms and on the other with Ayan Mukherjee of Dharma Productions, how was your experience?

You can say that primary was in Balaji and high school was in Dharma production. Whatever I have learned, I have learned from here. Dharma is a different kind of school, where work is done in a very relaxed environment. That has been a very fun experience. My film journey started with Goldie Behl's film 'Drona'. After this, he worked as an assistant director in films like Wake Up Sid, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Brahmastra. Got a chance to learn a lot from Ayaan.

When you were doing 'Wake Up Sid', did you ever think that a film like 'Animal' would be made and an avatar of Ranbir Kapoor would be seen in the film?

Didn't think about it at all then. You don't understand until you see. The way Ranbir has played an action character for the first time in Animal. He is very different and fun. He is such an actor that he can do all types of roles. He is a very experienced actor.

There is a lot of talk in the industry about nepotism, you yourself are an outsider. How has your experience been?

I do not enter into the topic of nepotism nor do I believe in it. Nepotism can only get you entry. After that it depends on your talent. This happens in every industry. Industrialist's son joins his dad's business. Politician's son will join politics. I think this definitely provides a platform. But further depends on your hard work and how talented you are. People unnecessarily debate on outsiders and nepotism.

Ekta Kapoor is considered a task master, how was the experience of working with her?

That's right, Ekta madam is an absolute task master. That's their way of doing things. It depends on you how you crack their task. If you can do this then working with them will never feel like you are working with a task master. Just like coconut, they are hard from outside and soft from inside.

How has been your experience with Karan Johar?

From Wake Up Sid to Brahmastra, many years of my life have been spent in Dharma. Got to learn a lot there. Karan is a very different and sweet person. He doesn't say anything to anyone. Very sharp and talented. He has a very good command of emotions and music. I don't think anyone else would have such a grip.

When people like you come from outside. What kind of support do you get if you start working in the industry?

When I started in 2006, it was very tough. At that time there was TV or films. There was no OTT etc. at that time. At that time it was very difficult to get entry. There were a lot of problems when I was trying. I was thinking that I might get many opportunities. He used to keep visiting Balaji. He used to stand outside Ram Gopal Varma's factory the whole day hoping to meet someone and hire an assistant. It was very difficult at that time. Now things are quite different. If you are also running YouTube then you can make your name on that also. Today there are many platforms to showcase talent. Now you can make a film sitting at home on your phone and release it, if it works then your name can be mentioned.

What do you consider to be the biggest struggle of your career?

That was the beginning when I didn't know anyone. In my neighborhood the camera man used to be assistant to Sudip Chatterjee. Used to go with him on the sets during summer holidays. From there the passion for telling stories and direction also started. After that I started wandering from street to street to find an opportunity? In those days, a lot of advertisements for film jobs were published in newspapers. Later it was revealed that they were all frauds. There were no mobile phones at that time. I received a call from Balaji twice on my home landline and both times I was outside. But when the call came for the third time, coincidentally I was at home. Once you join the system, paths are created automatically.

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