'Neerja' has become part of conversations'

'Neerja' has become part of conversations'

Venturing out

'Neerja' has become part of conversations'

Atul Kasbekar is a renowned Indian fashion photographer recognised for his glamourous shoots. However, with the recently-released Sonam Kapoor-starrer ‘Neerja’, he marked his debut as a producer in Bollywood.

In a conversation with Puja Gupta, the 50-year-old shares the idea behind the movie, his passion for photography and more.

Are you happy with the response ‘Neerja’ got? Is it as per your expectations?

I’m delighted. The film has become part of conversations which is amazing. We started to make a decent movie and had no idea that it’s going to be so much a part of popular consciousness. It’s more than we expected. Ram Madhvani is a genius and I’ve always known that. Now the world does as well.

But how did the movie happen?

The story came as a seven pager from Saiwyn Quadras, the writer of ‘Mary Kom’. We liked it a lot and could relate to it at various levels, and told him that if we get the rights from the family then we would try and make it.

How confident you were while undertaking this project?

At a key level, I found that there were bizarre things happening but then it seemed that cosmic forces had aligned themselves to make this project happen. Perhaps, it was the blessings of Neerja’s mother, Ramaji, who established a very warm connection with all of us. 

How was the experience of your first Bollywood project?

I wish all future Bollywood projects workout as nicely as this one. We worked with a team of incredible energy and of similar value systems. Ram assembled an excellent team and then Fox Star Marketing, every digital media and the PR people were completely in sync with what we wanted to do.

How has the journey from being a photographer to a producer been?

Making a motion picture takes a lot out of your lives. I think it’s been a part of my life for two and a half years and I went from the first part of ‘Neerja’ to its final release. Although the journey was fraught with uncertainty and doubt at various points, but we had deep belief that we will sail through.

What is the best thing about being a photographer?

Being a photographer, no two days are alike. I don’t have a long attention span and I get bored very easily. So even if I shoot with somebody for the 100th time you can be sure that the experience will be different and unique to that day. It’s a dream job and I love doing it.  

What are your upcoming projects?

We’re working on four-five projects right now and I can assure you that we will approach it the same way we did ‘Neerja’, which means that at a base level the only way to make movie is to have great script on hand. We will only take things ahead when we feel that on paper, independent of actor or director, there is a story you are telling on screen.

Can we expect a Bollywood masala film from you some day?

It will be our best endeavour to deliver a good film. I don’t know what masala means or masala does. I would like to make a movie I’m proud of. If I make ‘True Lies’, I’ll be proud of it, if I make ‘Schiendler’s List’, I’ll be proud of it, if I make ‘3 Idiots’, I’ll be proud of it and if I made a movie like ‘Kahani’, I’ll be very proud of it. We’ve made ‘Neerja’ and we’re very proud of it.

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