Vikash Verma's new directorial venture ‘No Means No’, a first ever Indo-Polish collaboration

Inspired by Raj Kapoor, young filmmaker Vikash Verma is trying to forge a strong bond between India and Poland with his directorial venture ‘No Means No’

Vikash Verma's new directorial venture ‘No Means No’, a first ever Indo-Polish collaboration
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Murtaza Ali Khan

Taking a leaf out of Raj Kapoor’s book to use cinema to forge a strong bond between India and Russia, Vikash Verma is trying to do the same between India and Poland with his directorial venture ‘No Means No’ which happens to be the first ever Indo-Polish production.

In a candid conversation, Verma shares the vision behind his ambitious project, the challenges he had to face while shooting the film in extreme winter, his influences and inspirations, and his upcoming project.

Excerpts:

What is the vision behind making the first ever Indo-Polish production?

I believe cinema has a great ability to bridge boundaries and bring people together. My film ‘No Means No’ is majorly shot in the mostly unexplored exotic locations of Poland. It’s the first ever Indo-Polish collaboration and will introduce Poland to the Indian audiences. Not only will it boost tourism but will also strengthen the culture connection between India and Poland.


Tell us the experience of shooting in Poland

We shot the film in freezing conditions. At times the temperatures dipped below minus 30 degrees. So a major challenge was to keep our bodies warm. Often we had to improvise while shooting in the interiors where we didn’t have access to the generators. For example, there is a scene which we shot using the headlights of a car. While shooting around the Tatra Mountains there was a constant fear of the avalanche at the back of our minds. I am really grateful to the Polish people for their unrelenting support to the project.

What’s your film about?

Well, it is a teenage love story about a young man from India who visits Poland to participate in a ski championship and ends up falling in love with a Polish woman. The film stars Dhruv Verma, Gulshan Grover, Sylwia Czech, Natalia Bak, Sharad Kapoor, Deep Raj Rana, Kat Kristian, Nazia Hassan, Anna Guzik, Pawel Czech, Anna Ador, and Jersey Handzlik. One of the film’s major themes is women empowerment and the story features some very strong female characters.


How disappointed were you when you had to postpone the film’s release due to the pandemic?

Well, my stand on this issue has always been quite clear. The safety of human life is paramount. One can still muster the courage to deal with material losses but the loss of human life is unacceptable. While it is important to bring back the audiences to the theatres, it is even more important to ensure that they are fully protected and are at a minimal risk against Coronavirus when they come to enjoy cinema.

Tell us about your influences and inspirations

Well, I have learnt from all of them. I have taken small things from all the big directors that I have been a fan of. But my all time favorite filmmaker is Sergio Leone. Now, during my formative years, I got in touch with filmmaker Rajkumar Kohli. I learnt a lot from him. But after my father’s demise, I joined his security business which required me to regularly interact with film stars, dignitaries, political leaders and important personalities from different walks of life. I also got to meet Hollywood stars as part of my work. So, it gave me a lot of exposure and opened up new avenues.


Do you have any other upcoming projects?

Yes, I am working on another project called ‘The Good Maharaja’. It’s based on a true story of the Maharaja of Jamnagar who saved 1000 polish kids during WWII. It will star Sanjay Dutt in the titular role.

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