Monday, March 4, 2024

‘I wanted Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke to be a pan-Indian series’

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This Republic Day will bring to you an action web series Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, directed by Srijit Mukherji. In an exclusive chat with The Pioneer, discusses the reasons for choosing to direct JaanBaaz Hindustan Ke, lauds Regina’s athleticism, and more.

Amartya Smaran

Zee 5’s upcoming Hindi action web series Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke is all set to premiere this republic day. In this fascinating series that is based on real-life incidents, Regina Cassandra will be seen playing a ruthless honest IPS officer. National Award-winning filmmaker Srijit Mukherji, who’s directed successful films like Autograph, Kakababu, Jaatishwar, and Begum Jaan is leading Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke from the front with his sensible directorial prowess.

In this exclusive interview with The Pioneer, one of India’s best filmmakers discusses the reasons for choosing to direct Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, lauds Regina’s athleticism, recollects the influence that Satyajit Ray had on him, and gives his advice to the younger generation filmmakers.

“I haven’t done an action film or web series in a very long time”, says Srijit when questioned about what fascinated him about the web series. “I think the last one was in 2016. Zee 5 and I were discussing the great real-life stories of our people in the police force across the country. So, we decided to use that as the source and create a fictional story based on those stories put together in a fictional form through the adventures of IPS Kavya. Then Juggernaut, a leading production house that is an expert in telling these stories about armed forces, came on board, and that’s how it all started.”

Films or series like Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke are heavy on the research side of things as they take inspiration from real-life scenarios. However, the director told us that the series doesn’t particularly target one incident but they’ve taken inspiration from a series of documented incidents from the past. “We’ve done research mostly in terms of case files and publicized cases across the country such as insurgencies in various parts of the country and foiled terror attacks. These real case files formed the basis of Jaanbaaz. While it’s not based on one single person, it is inspired by these real-life incidents and kind of collated together in a fictional template,” tells the X=Prem director.

Filmmakers usually have jitterbugs before getting on to the sets. Alfred Hitchcock said, “To make a great film you need three things – the script, the script and the script.” Quite often it takes a tremendous amount of hard work to exactly show what’s written on the pages. And one magical moment while shooting can change the dynamics and make the filmmaker a lot more confident about the prospects of the film. “We’ve had many such moments. I think right from the first schedule which was in Shillong and Guwahati, visually we knew that we had a winner at hand because these were visuals that we haven’t seen as Northeast wasn’t explored enough in the OTT space.” shares the Bengali star filmmaker.

Talking about why he chose to shoot in various exquisite locations stretching across India, Srijit adds: “By looking at the authenticity of the actors and the novelty of such visually stunning locations, by the first schedule itself, we knew we had something interesting on our hands. I wanted the series to be truly pan-Indian and more from the UP heartland or the Punjab-Delhi part of the country because it has much more to offer in terms of our diversity, language, and various sensibilities. A police officer actually does travel across the country, especially if a case demands it. We kind of designed it like that to traverse the length and breadth of the country.”

Any great film is incomplete without the extraordinary chops of an actor. What an actor brings to the table makes movies worthwhile. Regina Cassandra is one actor who’s time and again proved her caliber as a leading lady. Appreciating Regina’s athleticism, the Vinci Da maker continues, “Well! She was quite impressive in Rocket Boys and Shoorveer as well, but what really impressed me was her athleticism. It is a very physical role and it demanded a lot out of her physically in terms of doing her own action sequences and stunts. We were shooting this speed boat chase sequence in the backwaters of Alleppey and she did all the stunts herself. In this particular chase sequence she was incredible, I mean she drove the speed boat like a pro and we were all very impressed.”

Satyajit Ray was one of the first filmmakers who went pan-Indian with his ability to tell stories. Hollywood’s maverick director Martin Scorsese once told, “The first film that I really saw about India, was Pathar Panchali and I realized that was a film made by Indians, for Indians, for the world, and not for other cultures.” Here, Srijit recollects the impact that Satyajit Ray created on him as a filmmaker, “Being a Bengali filmmaker, he is inescapable. You’ve grown up on a staple diet of Ray films. You know his aesthetics and the dos and dont’s of filmmaking come from him. By reading his books and watching his films you get to learn screenwriting, how to use your actors and how to use background music. I mean he’s an institution by himself. He’s like a library and you have different kinds of books on every level of his existence which is really fascinating. I think what makes him special is he becomes international by being local. He focuses on the life he knows very well and in his Indianness, restraint, elegance, and aesthetics, he becomes international.”

Giving his valuable advice to young filmmakers, he ends, “I’d urge younger filmmakers to just go out and tell their stories exactly the way they want to. Do not compromise and do not target any audience, critic, or jury. Just target your dreams.”

2023 is going to be a busy year for Srijit Mukherji with a bunch of films and series coming up in both Hindi and Bangla. The filmmaker is excited about the release of Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke and with several other projects under his belt, it looks like he’s exploring a new dimension with respect to his craft.

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