My Birthday Song: Sanjay Suri says Samir Soni's script and narration of his directorial debut was flawless
Sanjay Suri talks about the year that has been, the journey of his production house and how he came on board Samir Soni's thriller My Birthday Song.
My Birthday Song is National award winning actor-producer Sanjay Suri’s sixth independent production after My Brother Nikhil, Sorry Bhai!, I Am, Chauranga and Shab, and even as it is a “big struggle” to churn out film after film with no support of a studio or a presenter, Suri is happy about the creative satisfaction he gets.
“It is tough as marketing and releasing a movie in theatres continues to be a challenge but Indie films are real stories that we make out of passion. We may not have the luxury of the budget or the star power to pull the audience in the theatre but you can make exactly what you want to make. I have not produced for the studios so I wouldn’t know what kind of experience one has with them. But yes, there are no pressures of say, putting songs forcefully,” said Suri, who, despite these constraints comes across as a very confident and chilled out producer.
“People are a bit confused about the title and other things after watching the trailer (of his upcoming film) but I am not bothered. Those who don’t understand is not our audience. This is not a film where you keep your mind out, you need to bring your mind in. Otherwise you will be lost,” he laughed.
Touted to be a psychological thriller, My Birthday Song is Samir Soni’s debut film as a director and Soni has co-produced the film with Suri, who plays the main lead. Their working relationship started when they were shooting for Sanjay Gupta’s Alibaug a few years ago. “Samir and I had lot of scenes together and that is when our camaraderie started. Our sensibilities for the kind of cinema we like is quite similar. Many years later, Samir narrated a script to me. There was a lot of clarity in his narration. It was quite engaging and I like thrillers. Usually in thrillers, we are alert that if there’s any goof up and the plot will be revealed. But Samir’s script and narration was flawless. I processed then and there, and we clarified certain observations. I asked him if he would direct. I took up the protagonist’s part and both decided to produce it together. So it was like Samir giving me a big gift of this story and also the chance to act,” said Suri.
Suri started his journey as an actor in 1999 with the film, Pyaar Mein Kabhie Kabhie, in the second lead along with debutants Dino Morea and Rinke Khanna. Suri’s performance was noticed and besides his own productions, he was lauded for his performances in films like Filhaal, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Jhankaar Beats and Pinjar. He was recently seen in the digital space, Excel Entertainment's Amazon Prime Video India series, Inside Edge and ALTBalaji’s Dev DD.
Suri also plans to take up direction this year. “I am still around without a Rs 100 crore hit (laughs out loud). Numbers game is for those who have a mass appeal which is wonderful. I don’t have any such aspirations and it is not a case of sour grapes or else I wouldn’t have made my first production, My Brother Nikhil. It was not safe in 2005 to make that film. Then my third production, I Am, was India’s largest crowd sourced film which went on to win the National award. Then, in Chaurang, a kid was a hero. If I like a story I will put my energy behind it. I am still enjoying because I am a very here-and-now person,” he said.
Talking about his acting career, Suri, who has done around 40 films so far, said he was looking at playing characters that are from real life. “And I can add some value to it. Just that due to creative short-sightedness, people see you in only one kind of role, that of a simple man. Devil is in the detail and probably in the mind. I want to explore characters and stories that I haven’t done before and hence, I produced My Birthday Song which is the first thriller under the new banner we have set up,” said Suri, furthering, “The setting mileau is urban and it is a kind of non-dialogue film. We actors were told to use the language we are comfortable in. It needs to feel real. The film moves into many realms of reality so to remember which realm I am in right now was a challenge and for that I would refer to my director. It was a very organic process. This film is for those audience who would want to remain engaged and join the dots. It is an edgy, trippy ride in a good way.”
Unlike many others, Suri instead feels that 2017 was a good year for the industry. “Because anything which was rubbish was rubbished irrespective of scale, size or names involved. A good film of any scale is working. A bad film of any scale is not working so there is a healthy change,” he said. “Certain shifts in the ecosystem are needed and I think we should learn from the Southern film industry where they have a limitation on promoting a film and its ticket price. We need to bring back people to theatres. Lifestyle has changed, digital explosion has happened and college kids can’t even afford a weekend multiplex. I know it is an anti-capitalist, free market also but today this mindset is reflecting on every publication where they are supporting some trashy films because that banner is able to pay the amount of money to the publication," Suri added.
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