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Young, dynamic and really excited - that's how one finds Sanjay Khanduri, first time writer-director, to be as he talk to us about his debut vehicle Ek Chalis Ki Last Local. Any other man in his place may have been a little worn out after spending close to two years in getting his film up for release but not Sanjay who is still maintaining high spirits as he looks forward to see audience response to his film.
Ek Chalis Ki Last Local - an unusual title for an unusual setting. How would you describe the film?
[Laughs] Well, you said it for me. To sum it up in an apt manner, yes ECKLL is an unusual film in itself. If I have to brand it to a genre, I would call it as a dark comedy. The film is set in Mumbai and hence has a definite feel to it which is typically mumbaiyya, if I can call it that way.
But doesn't this restrict its audience count?
Not really! Though the film is Mumbai centric and would come quite naturally to Mumbaikars due to the local train flavour in it, the subject is such that it would appeal to all. The film has thrilling moments that intentionally or unintentionally turn comic hence keeping you engrossed in the proceedings. The target is city audience and for that we have ensured that the narrative is formatted to suit their sensibilities and in turn also give them something new to chew upon.
Let's talk about the leads in the film beginning with Abhay. Each of his films so far has shown him to be a simple boy. Is he like that on the sets too or does he too boast of trademark Deol flare?
[Laughs] He is really one nice boy to work with. No airs, no flares, seriously. I haven't interacted much with Sunny, Bobby or Dharmendraji so don't know much about their so-called anger but I am sure that it's all a media created myth since I haven't heard of any such trait of theirs from within the industry.
You seem to be impressed with Deols.
Yes, I am because there is a certain class that comes with the surname. It is a family thing, you know! Once you talk to them you realize their true class and standing in the industry. Abhay is just taking the tradition further.
There is a renewed vigor in him that one can sense post the success of Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. He is sounding quite charged up about ECKLL.
Yes, it is heartening to see that he now has a success behind him since it was quite disappointing for him when both Socha Na Tha and Ahista Ahista didn't work at the box office. [Laughs] Having said that, I am sure he is charged up not just due to this reason but also the fact that he is confident about ECKLL as well.
How about Neha?
She is a real sweetheart. She has always been confident about the film ever since the time the moment it was narrated to her. I remember an interesting incident that happened that day. We were sitting along with the producers and I was narrating the script to her. Prior to meeting her we were a little apprehensive if she would be interested in being a part of the film or not. Mid-way through the narration we could sense her excitement and as soon as she was through listening to me, she said she was on. On hearing that the producer joked that now that she was so charged about the role, let's forget the payment part!
What is it that made Neha so happy with the film? Is it her part of ECKLL as a package?
The film as a whole is definitely a package that has excited her. But her role is something that turns out to be the focal point of the film. To put it correctly, the film revolves around the character of Madhu played by her. [Laughs] More than that I am not telling anything at all; it would do nothing but break the suspense in the film.
Coming to the music of the film, entire focus on music promotion has been on 'Laaree Choote'.
That's correct. It's a promotional music video and has been doing quite well too across music channels and radio stations. Having said that I am also particularly fond of 'Bheegi Seeli Si', which is sung, composed and written by newcomer Ankur.
It indeed is a nice romantic number.
And guess what, the version you are hearing is an amalgamation of two different songs that Ankur had given to me. I asked him why he didn't bring the two together as they both had something striking about them to be fused closely. He asked me to wait for while and soon had a catchy romantic track up his sleeves.
Have you started work on your next film?
The talks are on with interested film makers though I am waiting for ECKLL to release first. I always wanted to pick up my next film only after ECKLL is released because that would only make film makers further aware about my talent. Once it arrives on screen, I am sure there would be good things happening for me in the world of movies since I am here to make path-breaking cinema. No ordinary/routine cinema for me, you know!