We wanted to make a film that is relevant today, says ‘Bahut Hua Sammaan’ director Ashish R Shukla

The writing was clever to incorporate humour and satire with such a roller-coaster plot. We laughed every time we had narration or workshop with the actors on scenes, says director Ashish R Shukla

Director Ashish R Shukla
Director Ashish R Shukla

Sonia Bera

Director Ashish R Shukla who directed critically acclaimed film Prague and much applauded crime thriller web series Undekhi on SonyLiv has directed film Bahut Hua Samman streaming on Hotstar which stars Sanjay Mishra, Raghav Juyal, Ram Kapoor and Namit Das. In this brief chat, he talks about the film, the genre of comedy and his take on it:

Tell us everything about the film Bahut Hua Samman.

“Bahut hua Sammaan is a satirical comedy about two Mechanical engineering students, played by Raghav Juyal and Abhishek Chauhan, whom you’ve seen in TVFs series ‘Cubicles’ and my other show “Undekhi”. Both are small-time con men who decide to rob a bank as per a master plan by been-there, know-it-all soul in their college ‘Baba’ Sanjay Mishra. Both students are all set to get their hands dirty and rich before their paper perfect plan falls, opening a Pandora’s box and awakening the beast, played by Ram Kapoor. It’s a political satire with ensemble of funny characters. It was supposed to come by summer itself but then the lockdown happened.”

It seems to be a light hearted comedy, what should audiences expect from it ?

We wanted to make a contemporary take on “Jaane bhi do yaaron” with a lot of 80s music which I love. Thankfully I had access to the whole SaReGaMa library from where I’ve used 33 forgotten songs mostly from Bappi Lahiri and some unique voices like Sharon Prabhakar to give it a unique flavour. The film is also political in nature but it does not follow any single ideology, rather it contradicts every ideology and shows their loopholes whether it’s left, right or centre.

You focus on each and every detail of the film and their characters. Had you already imagined every character how it is supposed to be? How did the entire process happen?

Many of the details came while writing itself and some we improvised. The writing was clever to incorporate humour and satire with such a roller-coaster plot. We laughed every time we had narration or workshop with the actors on scenes. I enjoyed the scenes while directing them and had fun with actors during their execution. Most of the films credit goes to his writers Avinash Singh and Vijay Narayan Varma, and producers who backed the film, Siddharth Anand Kumar, Gaurav Sharma, Vikram Mehra and Hotstar. It’s a bold film for somebody to back it.

There are so many new talents and old stalwarts in this film, how was your experience working with them?

On talking about working experience with Sanjay Mishra and Raghav Juyal, “It never felt like just working together, we had immense fun on the sets where we kept playing, experimenting, improvising scenes. Both the actors are masters of their comic timings, that’s what the film needed, especially wherever we improvised or created something onset. In-fact the whole ensemble, including Ram Kapoor, Abhishek, Nidhi Singh, Namit Das, Flora, Rohit Chaowdhary, Bhupesh, Sharat, all were chosen for their comic timings, so that it becomes easy to improvise and play along.”

How is the story different?

We wanted to make a film that is relevant today without any overdose of intellect to keep it accessible and funny. It’s great to see the positive reviews and the word of mouth publicity that has been happening since its release. We are constantly getting calls and messages filled with appreciation and gratitude. Hope it keeps getting its audience.

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