(left) Producer Pankaj Johar and (right) Director Hemant Gaba discussing.
I wrote a story about four boys from Delhi’s middle class who aspire to be entrepreneurs.
After being stuck in 9-to-6 monotonous jobs myself for a few years, I realized that lot of people including myself, actually want to do something on their own in our lives instead of being succumbed to the slavery of a job in a corporate house. But it is very tough to muster the courage to follow the heart that leads to the road to uncertainty.
The middle class of India has always taught their children to stick to secure jobs and not take any risks. I wanted to create an experience of the energy and vulnerability of the youth who want to take the less traveled road in making their career choices. The kind of friendship the four protagonists share in ‘SHUTTLECOCK BOYS’ also comes from my own growing up years.
With a small sum of 3,500,000 INR / 35 lakh [US$64,000] in hand mostly through personal savings and loans from friends/family, I embarked on the journey of making my debut feature film which is synonymous to the protagonists journey in the film. We shot on more than 18 locations in just a span of 22 days in New Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida.
I decided to work with non-actors to give the film a realistic feel and also because of limited resources. The decision to shoot the film handheld was to give it a rustic feel and to capture the camaraderie of these four friends in an intimate way. Our whole crew was first timers and we all had the energy and passion to make a film.
Where are the shooting locations?
The film has been completely shot in Delhi and the adjoining suburbs of Gurgaon and NOIDA, collectively known as “National Capital Region” or NCR. Considering almost no money for locations, we mostly sought favours from friends / colleagues / extended family for locations as well. We didn’t have access to office locations, so we sent out 1000s of cold emails and managed to meet a very few companies and couple of them did agree to allow us shoot in their premises w/o any cost.
You have an issue with the film lab editors after offline edit & sound design. The film negatives were damaged. How did you manage to solve it?
After the offline edit, when we went to the lab to get a final cut from the negatives, we realized that they had been handled and stored properly. As a result, they became badly scratched and started giving the look of a 1920s film. Initially, the lab refused to take any responsibility for it. When they refused to budge even after repeated attempts, we decided on a legal course. But as a last ditch effort, we approached the owners of the lab.
To our surprise, we found that the owners understood our position and agreed to digitally restore the film. We had to pay very little amount compared to what a digital restoration would normally cost. But the extent of mental agony and innumerable time delays caused due to all this can never be measured in terms of money. That was one of the darkest phases. To think that all our hard work and love could have gone waste because of lab’s negligence is pretty heart-wrenching.
Which cities this film was theatrically released? How was the theatrical response? What did you learn from the experience?
The film was theatrically released in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Pune. Considering that our film was released alongside two big budget Bollywood films having a huge star cast, the response was quite decent. The critics gave the film a big thumbs up. The biggest thing that we learnt while releasing the film is that marketing a film is extremely important even for independent films and a sizable chunk needs to be allocated to marketing budget even before one starts to shoot.
Any latest film festival or awards for Shuttlecock Boys?
The film will have its Australian Premiere on 11 Nov 2012 in Australian Festival of South Asian Arts (Sydney). Tie (The Indus Entrepreneurs) have organized a special screening of the film in Bangalore on 9th Nov to be followed a Live Q & A session with the filmmakers. The biggest Entrepreneur body in India recognizing our effort holds a really special place.
What is Penny Wise Films next project or new heights?
We have two feature length projects in the work right now. One is called “In Transit” which is a journey of self discovery of four characters who are in the various phases of transition and have intertwining lives. The second is called “Retribution” in which a young girl wrongly accuses her father of raping her.
The song recordings were very interesting . Tell us something about the tracks. Where were the recordings done and how long did it take?
Avinash Baghel has not only done the Music but also sang the songs, played the violin and Guitar. He had given up Music to prepare for Indian Administrative Services (again because that’s what his parents wished for him). But after getting the job of composing tracks for Shuttlecock Boys, he has never looked back. He has done 2 more feature films and several documentaries and corporate films. He has gone ahead and formed a band of his own; in fact today he performs in NH7 Pune Music Festival and we feel proud of him.
Initially we had plans only for the background score but not for songs. But during the filming, Prachi Singh (First AD + Costumes + Production Design) wrote a song on her own called RUK NAA TU AB KAHIN aka Don’t you stop now. And Manas Mishra (Second AD + Storyboard Artist) wrote a song called ZINDAGI HAI EK SHUTTLE aka LIFE IS A SHUTTLE; so we decided to compose them and use it in the background.
All the recordings of the film were done in a Music Recording Studio in Mumbai. We spent approximately ten months in composing the tracks and then two weeks in the Music Studio for recording and mixing them.
[You can download the soundtracks via this link]