Anand Pandit's recent films Doctor G, and Fakt Mahilao Maate did exceedingly well and now he is set for his next production titled Kabzaa, which will have a pan India release on March 17 in multiple languages. He also has his third Gujarati movie, ‘Tron Ekka’ in pipeline starring the star cast of ‘Chello Divas’ Yash Soni, Malhar Thakar, and Mitra Gadhavi for which they recently did the Mahurat shot.
In an interview with Outlook, he talks about his forthcoming ventures and how regional cinema is setting benchmarks. Excerpts from the conversation
Q. How have Gujarati and south Cinema changed over the years?
Gujarati cinema has evolved over the last two decades beyond family dramas, folktales, and mythology and is more diverse, contemporary, and relatable than ever before. In fact, a lot of millennials and those from the Gen Z demographic are now drawn to the coming-of-age stories being made by young directors. However, universal hits like my previous Gujarati film, ‘Fakt Mahilao Maate’ draw huge crowds because they appeal to all age-groups. As far as South Indian cinema is concerned, it can no longer be relegated to the 'regional' bracket because its success has transcended linguistic and geographical barriers. Each industry in the South has its own distinct identity, its share of stalwart actors and directors and diverse themes. Films like the 'Drishyam' (Malayalam), the 'KGF' franchise, 'Kantara' (Kannada), 'RRR', 'Pushpa: The Rise'(Telugu) and the 'Baahubali' franchise (Tamil and Telugu) have created cinematic experiences that Indian audiences have never savoured before. As the co-producer of ‘Kabzaa’, I am elated to be part of what I believe will be the next big pan-Indian blockbuster from the South.
Q) How has Indian cinema developed in terms of content and stories over the years?
Indian cinema has always been adaptive to changing audience tastes because every time it fails to give them something new and fresh, it hits a rough patch. We are also the world's most diverse entertainment industry and that is our strength. In recent years, we are emerging from our respective silos to collaborate with each other and that I feel is the most exciting development because now, Indian cinema will truly emerge as an entertainment powerhouse that can take on the world. India's cinematic language has always been unique despite the influence of Eurocentric craft and Hollywood tropes and now it is drawing foreign award juries and a global audience on the strength of its rooted narratives.
Q. With the release of Kabzaa approaching, how has your experience been working with Upendra, Sudeep, and Shriya Saran?
Upendra and Sudeep are stars with a huge box-office draw, a staggering fan following, and also remarkable acting chops. They are very different but share the same commitment towards their work and are really hard-working. This is why they have lasted in the industry for so long and are at the top of their game. Shriya has immense talent and versatility and the fact that her song 'Namaami Namaami' has over 2.4 million views, speaks for itself.
Q. Tron Ekka stars the cast of super hit Gujarati movies Chello Divas and Shu Thayu, which are both loved by the audience. Can we expect the same from Tron Ekka?
‘Chhello Divas’ and ‘Shu Thayu?’ are both critically acclaimed movies that in a way broke the stereotypes associated with Gujarati cinema. Yash Soni, Malhar Thakar, and Mitra Gadhavi were a big factor behind the success of these films and they will be seen in a surprising avatar in 'Tron Ekka' which happens to be a feel-good film with a message that will uplift and inspire you.
Q. As an industry expert, what kind of movies do you think our audience is looking for?
After the tough years of the pandemic, the audience wants entertainment, joy, and stories that transport them, make them laugh, and immerse them in the magic and power of the big screen experience that they have missed so much. The audience today has global entertainment streaming right into their homes and their tastes and expectations have changed. They will hence venture out to visit theatres only when they know a film is worth their time and money. There is no single formula for a hit but a well-made film that lives up to expectations and delivers a larger-than-life cinematic experience does not even need much publicity to click massively.