We remember him for directing A Wednesday, a small-budget project that went on to attain a cult status. But it’s been more than four years since Neeraj Pandey delivered a Hindi film. However, the wait is finally over as the Mumbai-based filmmaker’s second directorial venture is about to release. In a candid conversation with us, Neeraj shares his thoughts…
Don’t you think the four-year wait is quite a long gap?
I got myself busy producing Kiran Yadnyopavit’s Marathi film Taryanche Bait right after A Wednesday. Thankfully, it was worth the effort because it’s a terrific film for a first-time director and (pointing to himself) a first-time producer.
What are your thoughts on regional cinema?
You can take risk in vernacular medium — something mainstream films don’t allow you. That’s the beauty of regional cinema. You can never imagine telling such hard-hitting stories in the Hindi language.
Who all inspire you the most in terms of your craft?
I like a director’s body of work more than the director himself. Having said that I’m a huge fan of Vijay Anand, Billy Wilder and Frank Capra. It’s a fantastic time to be a filmmaker. In 2012, we had varied films like Kahaani and Vicky Donor working at the box-office, which proves that the audience is hungry for new content.
As a filmmaker, what’s your greatest fear?
Should I have one? (Laughs) OK. Camera malfunction must be it. We faced one during A Wednesday and we had one during the making of my upcoming film too.
Don’t you worry about expectations from your next?
Frankly speaking, I don’t. I can’t bother myself with others’ expectations. While creating a film, you can’t put yourself in such a vulnerable position. That’s not how it works.
What has been the biggest challenge while making this heist film?
Since the entire film is set in 1987, we had to be meticulous about every single detail; be it the clothing or the ambiance. We couldn’t go wrong in that department so we incorporated every little available info.
And why did you cast Akshay Kumar?
Well, I always felt that he’s the right choice for the role. I knew that Akshay would pull this off. I agree it’s something that’s against his regular image. So, yes, it was anti-casting in a way (smiles).
Lastly, your thoughts on `100 crore film club...
When we started working on this particular film, the club wasn’t in existence. Even today, I don’t understand the mechanics behind it. It’s very amusing.