Omung: on a steady rise

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Omung: on a steady rise

A  lot of special things await Omung Kumar in the new year. If 2016 wrapped up with news of his film Sarbjit being longlisted at the Oscars for Best Picture, it is Sanjay Dutt’s comeback film that’s got everyone’s attention now. For Omung, it’s his stories that are doing the talking, right from his debut Mary Kom.

“At the base of all the adulation, awards and special focus I receive are my stories. If a story moves me enough to make a film, I am all sold out on it. Sarbjit is a great human story, as is Bhoomi. Though people say it to me all the time, there is really nothing called the Omung Kumar touch. I just push the boundaries with my actors, and in the process, the film gets made,” says the director, modestly trying to bow out of the arclight.

But bowing out cannot be a recourse for this man so soon. Everyone’s eyes are on him as he brings back Bollywood’s much-loved man, Sanjay Dutt, on the big screen with Bhoomi after a two-year break. He was last seen in a special cameo in Rajkumar Hirani’s PK.

Actor within the star

Omung is currently on a recce in Agra for the film and completely enthused by the story he is waiting to bring to the world. “It’s a wonderful tale of a father and child, and it’s an honour for me that Sanjay Dutt is playing the dad in my film. One thing I can promise you is that you will see him in a never-before avatar. As with my other lead actors, I have challenged him with a very demanding role and I know he is going to hit the bull’s eye with it. I know him as a very dedicated actor. For me, the actor within the star is important,” says the filmmaker.

Bhoomi is a revenge drama centred around a father and daughter, and is being shot in a start-to-finish schedule in Uttar Pradesh. It is slated for release in August this year, so the director has a very tight and hectic deadline hovering ahead of him.

However, at the moment, he is over the moon with news about Sarbjit. Producer Sandeep Singh and he have sent the Randeep Hooda and Aishwarya Rai-starrer to the Oscars for the Best Picture and it has been longlisted. Sharing space with it is another biopic, Neeraj Pandey’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story in a list of 336 films. To make it to the Oscar list, feature films must have played in a commercial theatre in Los Angeles County between January 1 and December 31 for at least seven consecutive days, and must have a running time of more than 40 minutes.

Fingers crossed

While he knows it is a technical entry and is up among the best of the world, Omung is keeping his fingers and toes crossed. “If I could have it my way, all of my films would be sent to the Oscars,” he laughs, adding, “I don’t believe people who say they are not in it for the awards. They are lying. An Oscar is a dream.”

Clearly, Sarbjit has a special place in his heart. “It’s such a humane story. I’d really want it to go through to the shortlist. Whenever we have exhibited the film, it has left the audience in tears. Though it is a very Indian story, anyone across the globe can relate to it — a brother stuck in a foreign land, a sister fighting for 23 years!”

He says that if any Indian film or artiste wins an Oscar, it’s a great feeling. “You know when Resul Pookutty won for Slumdog Millionaire, I was ecstatic. It’s such a high! When Mary Kom bagged the National Award, it was a completely surreal moment. So, if at all we manage a feat like bagging an Oscar, I’d be on cloud nine. That one is most definitely on my wishlist.”

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