Karaan: Priyanka let me have my own vision

30 December, 2016

Karaan Guliani speaks about his association with Priyanka Chopra in his upcoming Punjabi directorial, regional cinemas and more

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After her successful stint as a producer in Marathi film Ventilator, Priyanka Chopra is all set to produce a Punjabi film titled, Sarvann. In a tête-à-tête with the director of the film, Karaan Guliani, we try to explore his association with the actress, the film and the kind of cinema he prefers. Excerpts from the interview…

How was it to be associated with Priyanka Chopra for your first Punjabi venture?
It feels like I am on cloud nine. She was not just a brand name but a wonderful producer and a wonderful human being. She is very supportive. As she is a creative person herself, she understands the needs of the director very well. She gave me all the freedom in the world to make the film.

She being such a huge star in Bollywood, did it ever reflect when she is a producer?
Not even in a single time. There is no reflection of brand Priyanka Chopra. She is a person who believes in films. For her it is the most important part.

How did Sarvann happen?
I was trying to make a Hindi film so I went to Priyanka Chopra’s office with a Hindi film’s script which I wanted to make with her. Although her team loved the script, she was not available as she was busy shooting for Quantico at that time. And she couldn’t get back for another year and half because of her busy schedule. So her team asked me if I can wait but I wasn’t sure what I would do for another year and half. That is when they asked me what else I was doing. During our discussion the topic of this Punjabi movie came up. The team immediately called up aunty, Madhu Chopra, Priyanka’s mother. No sooner I told her about the concept of the film she instantly said that we are doing this film. After this, when PeeCee flew down to India, she heard the script and loved it. She was involved in the entire process of the film.

Tell us something about the film.
Children at the age of 22-23 are mostly rebels. For them, their biggest enemies are their parents. As we grow up, we realize that we have made many mistakes in my life. Later on, every son wants to be a Shravan Kumar (The idealistic son in mythology). It is about a son who initially is a rebel but later goes on to become Sarvann Kumar.

The film also stars Amrinder Gill who has a chocolate boy image in the Punjabi industry. How did he come on board?
I met Amrinder paaji through a common friend. I had met aunty Madhu, after which I went to Dubai for two days and when I came back, I met Amrinder. He loved the story so much that he said ‘let’s start working on the script’. I feel lucky that the star of the film and the producer of the film both believe in story, both believe in the script. The script is everything. Priyanka or any other producer for that matter, nobody interfered in the process of the filmmaking. They allowed me to have my vision and follow it throughout. It was the same with Amrinder paaji.

How is Amrinder as an actor?
As an actor he is a powerhouse performer. He is a humble and a very sweet human being. He is very supportive as well. There were times when we shot in heavy rainfall and even at temperatures as high as 48 degree. He got heat stroke because of it. Even after all this he insisted on finishing the shoot. I always tell people that there is Rajinikanth in the south and there is another Rajini Anna in Punjab and that is Amrinder Gill.

Do you feel that association of stars from Bollywood will in some way help the regional cinema to come to mainstream?
Today we see Hindi films and we see regional films as well. The regional films are growing because of its content. You have that freedom to tell stories. We are not struck in that project making exercise. In regional cinemas we tell stories. Especially, Punjabi films are giving tough competition to Hindi films. They are not typically masala mass oriented films. But of course, stars like Priyanka Chopra who understands the power of the regional cinema and coming ahead to support and contribute their bit.

What is the status of that Hindi film you approached Priyanka before Sarvann happened? Do you still want to do the project with her or somebody else?
Honestly, I did not get time to think about it. Now I am just finishing this film and after this I will surely go to Priyanka and talk about that film.

What kind of films would you like to do?
I am storyteller. For me, story is the most important thing. In every film of mine, there is a journey. It has lot to do with me as I have personally travelled a lot in my personal life. In every place I go, I find a story. My choice of films will be I will be telling a story in it. I am not someone who will make a film just for the sake of it.

Tell us something about your background.
I started my career when I was 9-years-old. I was a child model for a tooth paste brand. After that I did lots of theatre and even won best actor award as well. When I reached the age of 22-23, the rebel age is what I call it, I rebelled against the mediocrity. I wasn’t able to satisfy myself as an actor. I am from a middle class family and my father was a Government servant who is retired now. I told him I want to go to NYU to pursue filmmaking course. We couldn’t afford the fees of the course. So my father asked me to pick between getting my three sisters married and getting admission for my course in NYU. Either of the two things can happen. So instead of the course, I started assisting people. I made documentaries, co-directed films and also directed lot of ad films as well. Then I had this one Hindi film which I though would be my debut film as a director. But God had other plans for me. And I am really thankful to God for the decision he has taken for me.

Do you still have any acting aspirations?
I don’t know. I never really thought about it. The story and the character matter a lot to me. So it all depends. I will surely give it a try, provided an opportunity comes my way. But my preference will always be to tell stories.

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