"I would consider releasing my film on an OTT platform," says director Sanjay Gupta who will soon resume shoot for Mumbai Saga in Ramoji Film City
Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta's latest offering, Mumbai Saga, was supposed to release on June 19. However, the pandemic has caused a delay. Most of the film has been shot already, and only a few more scenes remain, which Sanjay says will be completed soon. The film’s unit will be shooting at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, and cast members including John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi, Suniel Shetty and others will be flown to the location for the same. “I have asked my actors for dates in mid-July. But I will not be able to shoot in Mumbai. The main concern of shooting in Mumbai is that you can’t guarantee that people won’t get infected or won’t be carrying the virus. It makes sense to shoot at Ramoji Film City because nobody will be going out and coming back for the shoot. Everyone will stay within the premises, and we will complete shooting at one place,” says Sanjay. The last sequence was shot at Dadar Station in Mumbai with over 200 people and 50 fighters.
Sanjay who has directed John in Zinda and Shootout at Wadala, Suniel in Kaante and Shootout at Lokhandwala, Jackie Shroff in Jung and Jazbaa, Gulshan Grover in Aatish and Kaante, and Rohit Roy in Shootout at Lokhandwala and Kaabil, reunites with all of them for Mumbai Saga. He says it’s good to be working with friends again. However, the filmmaker is working with Emraan and Prateik Babbar for the first time, and also has newcomers in his crew. “I wanted to work with new people, and I have taken a newcomer (Shikhar Bhatnagar) to be the film’s DOP. We’ve shown a lot of confidence in him,” says Sanjay who made his Bollywood debut at the age of 22 with the film Aatish: Feel the Fire in 1994. He says, “If we don’t bring in fresh talent, how will we grow? I too was given a chance when I was all of 22. GP Sippy gave me a film like Aatish which was probably one of the biggest films of its time. I had to pay this forward in some way.”
Mumbai Saga, based on a true story, narrates how Bombay was transformed to Mumbai. “The film captures the turning point of Mumbai. It tries to recreate and present the nexus between mill owners, developers, the police, the mafia and politicians. All these people were required to change the city. The story captures the conflicts and betrayals of that period,” he says. Sanjay has always been interested in exploring how the underworld works. “I am comfortable making films in this genre. People ask me why I don’t explore other genres. I don’t think I have to prove myself. I don’t want to experiment with comedy, romance or any other genre. For example, Sachin Tendulkar is a good batsman, so why should he try to be a bowler? ” asks Sanjay. Mumbai Saga spans a little over a decade. It begins during the early ’80s and concludes during the mid-90s, and Kajal Aggarwal is the female lead in the film.
While he has been busy with post-production work, Sanjay is also enjoying his time at his Khandala home. He says, though he is away from Mumbai, nothing about his routine has changed. “I am up by 7 am. I spend time with my children and by 9.30 am, I attend my yoga class via Skype. After an hour of yoga and breakfast, I work until lunchtime. In the afternoon, I catch up on reading and watch some films and shows. By 6.30 pm I go for my one-hour walk. At night, I have dinner, and spend some time with my children again before calling it a day,” he reveals.
Although he had been extremely busy with the shoot of Mumbai Saga before the lockdown, the doting father of two always makes time for his children or gets them on sets when he is shooting. “They usually come when action scenes are being shot. I fill up my van with goodies for them and they have a ball of a time. They know that if dad’s shooting it will be fun,” he quips.
Between all his commitments, Sanjay curated a film festival for himself during the lockdown. Every day, the director would tweet about the film he has watched and would post a trailer of the movie. “I watched a lot of the non-commercial films from Argentina, Chile and other places. Some of the titles I enjoyed are Birds of Passage, Light of My Life, Little Women, The Last Black Man In San Francisco, A Hidden Life and Honey Land. Right now, I am watching Fauda and I just watched the documentary, Jeffery Epstein: Filthy Rich,” he says.
However, the thing that is currently on his mind is the upcoming shoot of the remaining portions of Mumbai Saga, and its release. “The question of completing the film is not that serious, the bigger question is how and when will we release it and when are theatres going to open? I would consider releasing my film on an OTT platform but the final decision has to be taken by our producer Bhushan Kumar. If he considers it, I will go ahead with it. We are facing an unprecedented challenge and we need to move on,” signs off Sanjay.