Danish Sait, makers of French Biryani talk about taking their Bengaluru comedy to Amazon Prime Video
Danish Sait, the lead actor of French Biryani, talks about his viral lockdown series, and how his new film is all things Bengaluru.
When Danish Sait is part of a film, you can be assured it is going to be sprinkled with all things Bengaluru. After all, he is someone who has been open about the fact that his art is inspired by his city. That way, French Biryani does not disappoint at all.
The film brings together interesting names. There is Danish Sait of Humble Politician Nograj-fame whose lockdown series gave viral a new definition; the director is Pannaga Bharana, who has already proved he thinks differently with his debut Happy New Year, and the film is bankrolled by PRK Productions, run by Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar and Gurudath A Talwar, and presented by reigning star Puneeth, who has been backing interesting scripts, beginning with the much-loved Kavaludaari.
The film takes place over a time span of two days, and is about a Frenchman Simon (Sal Yusuf), who is taken on a happy spin around the town by Danish’s autorickshaw driver Asgar, loses his suitcase, and is sought by a don’s son and his cronies. The film is in a happy mix of Kannada, Urdu, some French and English, and Tamizh too. But its heart is all Bengaluru.
From the peculiar style of the city’s autodrivers to its streets and people, the film throws the spotlight on people you might have met, but not really focused enough on. Now, you enter their world. Look out for the hookah-puffing mother, and the sister who redefines cool. Telling anything more will kill the joy for someone watching the film.
It is safe to say that French Biryani is packed with laugh-a-minute humour. Yes, it is rife with double-entendres, but they are more of the smart kind. And yes, the camera does tend to linger uncomfortably on certain body parts, even if it is to eventually prove a point.
For Danish, this was the first film he is part of that he has not created himself. “Usually, I create, then find a producer, and then make a film. This time around, a script came to me, I was told I fit the part, and it was liberating to work on someone else’s content. Once I figured my character, I knew Asgar the automan can be portrayed in any way; there’s also the Danish way. I guess I will do Danish in any environment. Probably, my way of compensating for my bad acting skills,” he laughs. Jokes apart, while he digs humour, Danish says the collaborative nature of the shoot worked beautifully for him. "The director believed in me as much as I trusted him, and it’s lovely to see that dynamic at work. I felt I had the space to bloom.”
Watch the film, and you cannot miss the dig at ‘one-and-a-half,’ and double metre charges that Bengaluru’s auto drivers are infamous for. There is a hat tip to many pop culture icons including Breaking Bad and Altaf Raja (Remember ‘Tum Toh Thehre Pardesi'? Same person!).
What would have been another Kannada film on OTT with a good team has now gained tremendous reach post the lockdown series videos that Danish puts out, which has earned him new loyal fans from across the country and made Bewarsi Kudka, Jaya, and Rammoorthy Avre brand names in their own right. “Well, I believe that life can change overnight for the good or bad, and I am grateful that the videos have taken the film beyond the geographical borders of where we live. If you have a good time laughing, we’ve done well,” says Danish.
For Puneeth, PRK, named after his mother Parvathamma, provided an opportunity to turn into reality his 15-year-old dream to put together projects that bring out new directors and actors, and innovative storylines. Law, the Kannada film that released last week on Amazon Prime Video India, was backed by them too. “I come from a family that has made films for long, based on our way of life, our perspective on life, invariably with a moral. Our banner has backed directors such as Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Puri Jagannadh, and P Vasu, and I wanted to take that forward. When my mother passed in 2016, I decided to go ahead and create something in her memory. Hemanth M Rao had made Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu that I loved, and then we produced his Kavaludaari. Frankly, my dream is to make all kinds of cinema. I believe that if you make it convincingly, a film will do well, including among the so-called mass audience. The integrity of the script matters, always. And it helped that we had a great cast,” says Puneeth, who is a fan of what Malayalam films have managed to achieve. “All of us across India share some kind of a similar culture. I really want us to make more rooted films.”
Puneeth saw Danish at an event management company, watched Humble Politician Nograj, and decided he was someone he definitely liked watching on screen. Someday, when the right script comes along, Puneeth hopes to act in one of his own productions too. For now, they are busy with a medical thriller 02 and an anthology.
Pannaga did not expect his sophomore directorial to hit OTT directly. “It was made for theatrical release, but with lockdown (in place), we had to do this to benefit all concerned. We were anyway looking at an urban, multiplex crowd, and this is almost the same set watching OTT. We had to trim about 20 minutes for the OTT version because the way people consume a film on OTT is way different than how they watch it on screen. In a theatrical release, we take 10 minutes to allow the audience into the film’s world. Post-interval, we follow a certain pace. In OTT, there’s always the possibility of a shift in focus, and we had to keep the film as pacy as possible. The present runtime is less than two hours.”
And in those two hours, you take a sneak peek into the lives of a multitude of characters you might not have met otherwise. The best part: not one is white or black; they are all in glorious shades of grey.
French Biryani is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India.
All images from YouTube.
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