Saad Khan talks about the making of Humble Politician Nograj
With Humble Politician Nograj (HPN), Saad Khan enters the league of filmmakers who are setting a new precedent in South Indian cinema — realistic films with a touch of humour and satire that mirror society. But Saad who had earlier directed the crime thriller, Station, is quick to point out, “This precedence is set by the audience, not by us. If you condition your audience to watch masala films for years, it’s difficult for them to get over it. We owe the entire journey and success of HPN to the social media fans and the audience that is watching the film. For us the audience is setting the standard.”
The film parodies corrupt politicians without taking a dig at any specific individual. “It’s one of the reasons we were given a U certificate. We haven’t mocked anyone,” says Saad who along with Danish Sait, the protagonist was clear about why this film was being made.
Their journey together started a few years ago, when Saad was auditioning artistes for his comedy stage show, Improv. At the audition Danish presented Nograj’s caricature. In 2014, Saad and Danish posted their first video on YouTube just before the elections. The video went viral and everyone got talking about Nograj. Then Nograj became an RCB insider — Mr Nags — for the IPL matches. It was only in 2015, that the character transformed to ‘Humble Politician Nograj’, when Saad and Danish went live on Facebook for the first time. “Even the live videos, where Nograj gave absolutely politically incorrect answers to questions, were improvised. We started looking at political issues such as the making of the steel flyover. Last year, we thought of making the film but not before our FB live from the US. I was shooting a film there and Danish was attending an Improv workshop. We met in New York and went live from Times Square and that’s when we thought we were good to go,” says Saad.
What has worked in favour of the film is the fact that humour is used in a subtle way to address some serious civic issues. “People don’t like it when we get preachy and humour is the easiest tool to approach serious issues. It’s layered messaging,” he says.
Ticket to America
HPN now heads to the US for release in the first week of February as Danish has a strong fan base there. Saad, meanwhile, is wrapping up his next film, Love and She, about postpartum depression. “It is a serious drama, an intense film and will be releasing in the US sometime during the summer. We will be premiering it in India later,” says Saad. While HPN has struck a chord with the audience, Saad thinks it’s too early to think of a sequel to the film.