Welcome, Shashi Verma– the newest writer in the Hindi cinema circle. Upcoming film ‘Shorgul’ will be his first foray into screenwriting. The film is loosely based on Muzaffarnagar riots and has some big names like Jimmy Sheirgill, Ashutosh Rana playing important characters in it. The film also marks the debut for Shashi, who has been a regular theatre artist for many years now.
Here is a Tete-e-Tete with him.
Tell us a bit about Shorgul’?
The backdrop of the film is such that it makes the film automatically gripping. It is set in contemporary India and has two religious groups rioting a city. That’s only a backdrop. There is a story which revolves around it. ‘Shorgul’ is our honest effort to give a message that fighting in the name of a religion has never solved any problem. There are different other shades in the film which I should not talk about right now. It is better that audiences find it themselves when the film releases.
This is your first film as a writer as well? How did you think of writing such a critical script?
Actually, the script of the film had been written a long time back. When the script was brought to me, it was not very badly written. My task was to better it. In doing so, I added different shades and angle to the script. In this, we were dealing with a very sensitive issue, so the objective was to properly communicate the right message to the audiences through cinema.
Are you also playing a role in the film? Tell us about it as well?
Initially, I was not playing that role. It was to be played by a very popular actor but he refused because of date problems. I am playing Jimmy Sheirgill’s uncle (mama) in this film. He has the best brain in the business and always feeds his nephew with one idea or the other to sustain power and hold on to it. He is someone like ‘Shakuni mama’ from the epic Mahabharata.
BJP minister Sangeet Som has said that there is one character which depicts him in the movie and it has been shown in a negative way. How true is that?
Just tell me one thing, If I write a character based on Ravana and then someone comes the next day that this character is based on me then it is not my fault. He has a problem with the name of a character which rhymes with his. The name of that particular character could have been anything. It is just a co-incident. We are not showing real people in our film. It is completely a fictional story based on the real-life incident.
Recently Udta Punjab was in the news because of its content. CBFC was demanding 89 cuts. Your film too deals with a sensitive subject. Your take on that?
I think those people who go and sit in the top positions, they automatically become like that. I cannot blame Pahlaj Nihalani for what he is doing. He is doing for what he feels is right. For I and you, he could be wrong but for him, he is right. He is one of us and I am telling you that they day he comes back to become a filmmaker, he will start thinking like us. There, on that sit, he is not a filmmaker but a CBFC chief and he is operating with a different perspective. As far as our film is concerned, it has already been passed by the CBFC and there is nothing to hide over here.
Anything else you would like to tell regarding the film?
We have made this great hard work. Both the directors Pawan Singh and Jitendra Tiwari have put their heart into this film. I am also very lucky to be the creative director of the film. All I would say that ‘Shorgul’ has a lot to offer than just a religious angle. There is a love story, drama, action, emotions. I hope audiences will like it.
Interview By: Shubham Pandey