Director Vivek Agnihotri is on a high. After achieving success in commercial films like Chocolate, Dhana Dhan Goal and Hate Story, his first social satire Buddha In A Traffic Jam has made it to the prestigious 16th Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI) under the ‘India Gold 2014’ category. Unreleased, the film starring Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Viveck Vaswani, Arunoday Singh, Mahie Gill and Anchal Dwiwedi is the director’s take on socio-political issues including Maoism. The film mirrors the plight of the deprived section through the eyes of Vikram Pandit (played by Arunoday Singh), a student at the Indian School of Business (ISB). A political drama, the film is a collaborative effort of 570 Indian School of Business (ISB)-Hyderabad students and Vivek, who had started his career as an adman.
“This story has been with me for sometime as certain issues of national importance have been bothering me. I was teaching at ISB, Hyderabad when students asked me to mentor a 10 minute social service shot. I asked them why don’t they raise funds for a full length feature. I didn’t know that they would do it in a week’s time and before we realised, I was shooting the film. The issues that we have raised in the film about a politically volatile atmosphere are very relevant today. In retrospect, I think when you are ready for something, it happens,” he says.
Apparently, MAMI is the first festival to which Buddha In A Traffic Jam, made in 2011, was sent. “I think it’s a wonderful festival to trigger off the journey of our film,” Vivek says, adding after this, he plans to take the movie to B-schools all over the world and also to international film festivals. “We will decide on the release date after it has been screened in certain international film festivals,” he says.
Vivek who had kicked off his career as a director with Chocolate, loves working on drama. His next is a musical love story, Junooniyat. Starring Pulkit Sharma and Yami Gautam, the shooting for the film will begin mid-November.
Another socio-political drama that Vivek is helming is Freedom, set in the backdrop of 1970s to 2000s and chronicles the Indian youth’s ambition since Emergency. It also presents an account of India’s growth in the last three decades. Having experimented with a lot of genres, Vivek feels his most challenging Bollywood project is yet to come. And where does he draw inspiration from? “From life, people and love,” he replies. Even as new stories keep pouring into the film industry almost every day, Vivek does not feel the pressure as a director. “My advantage is that I am always surrounded by interesting people and new stories just keep popping up,” he says.
Given an opportunity to remake a Bollywood blockbuster, Vivek says he wants to remake Deewar with Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapur. “Their bromance looked great in Gunday”, he smiles.
As a filmmaker, he advises youngsters in the field to observe. “The natural instinct required for being an effective writer, editor and director is observation and the constant urge to learn from those observations,” says Vivek, popular in the industry as an ‘intellectual director’.