Producer Deepak Mukut of Soham Rockstar Entertainment who has produced a variety of films such as Mulk, Sanam Teri Kasam, Dhaakad, and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana has an interesting line-up of upcoming films. In a candid conversation with Cine Blitz, Deepak talks about producing a variety of films, Dhaakad’s failure, supporting new talents, and what producers and artists alike need to do in Hindi cinema after the pandemic. Read excerpts:
You have a wide range of films lined up. What’s the status update on Priya Interrupted, Apne 2, and Bal Naren?
We have signed Pradeep Sarkar to direct the adaptation of Priya Interrupted. We are still working on the film. It will take some time. Apne 2 will go on the floors in February-March 2023. We have the three generations of the Deol family starring in this family drama.
Bal Naren is ready for release in late November or early December. It is a story of a young boy who is spreading the message of cleanliness after getting inspired by the Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan. The film has come out really well. Many IAS officers, ministers, and members of the media have watched the film in trials. The feedback is positive. I hope the audience will also like it.
You recently unveiled the poster of The Virgin Tree. Is that also a message-oriented film?
It’s a horror comedy but made in a slightly different way. The film has Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Singh, Mouni Roy, and Palak Tiwari. We have started the shoot. The next schedule will take place in Pune. The film shall be complete by late December or early January.
You produced Sanam Teri Kasam which did not work at the Box Office but received a lot of acclaim from the audience later on.
Sanam Teri Kasam has become a sort of cult film. People still talk about the film. It didn’t work at the Box Office when it was released but good content eventually finds its way. And I would like to tell you that I am going to make Sanam Teri Kasam 2. We are working on the story.
Why do you think Dhaakad didn’t work at the Box Office? Has that impacted your decision-making while backing a film now?
See, when a producer makes a film, he wants to make a good film and hopes that the audience will like it. But sometimes people just don’t come out to watch a film. We thought that in Dhaakad, the audience will get to see something new – a female action hero in Kangana Ranaut. We used the finest of technicians and put in a lot of money to ensure good filmmaking. But sometimes, people don’t accept a certain actor in a certain role. We have seen only male action heroes.
We would know whether people liked a film or not if people come to the theatres to watch a film. But people didn’t come to watch Dhaakad in theatres. There could be multiple factors behind that. During the pandemic, people were spoilt for choices as they watched all types of content from across the world. Maybe that’s why the audience thought that they’d watch it when it comes to OTT. As for the impact on my decision-making, a producer can’t stop making films fearing whether the audience will watch them or not.
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An observation shows that post-pandemic, films have worked because of good word-of-mouth or a big spectacle. What’s your take on it?
It’s true. Brahmastra was in the making for 8 years. So, people were curious to see what they have made. Currently, Uunchai is growing in business because of good word of mouth. Sometimes it’s a spectacle and sometimes it’s good content. Then there are also some films that create a lot of noise. People check them out because of that noise.
What’s your vision behind the variety of films that you produce?
I don’t like to repeat similar concepts. I like variety. When you produce different types of films, it gives you the satisfaction that you have done something different. No one can guarantee a film’s success. But it’s important that you are happy with the film you have made. I have produced love stories like Sanam Teri Kasam and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana as well as a social film like Mulk. It feels good to make all kinds of films.
Unfair treatment of the writers by producers has been a critical issue. How do you look at that because you have backed new writers and actors alike?
If there are no new actors in the film industry, how many films can you make with the existing actors? The big banners rarely launch new talent from outside the film industry. And the celebrity kids are also keen on getting launched by the big banners. They don’t entertain us because we are new producers. I said fine, I will scout for new talent for my films. I have worked with new writers, directors, and actors.
I believe that writers should be respected the most. If your writing is not good then what good will your film be? I respect writers. I postponed Apne 2 because our writer Neeraj Pathak got busy with other work. I could have got another writer but I respected Neeraj and postponed the film for him for more than a year.
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As the film industry is going through testing times, what do the makers and actors alike need to rethink?
One should see what the audience is looking for. You have to analyze the whole thing because there’s so much content being made. You should be smart enough to select the content. And you have to give your film the time it needs. You should not make a film in a hurry. Artists also need to decide what they want to do.
After the pandemic, everyone needs to be economically feasible too. Ultimately, your film doesn’t fail, your economics fail. A film fails when it goes over budget for whatever reasons. Sometimes, actors demand unreasonable fees but producers pay them because they want that artist. That extra money is your loss. If your artist’s price is right, then your mathematics will work out right.
Lastly, at which level do films come to you? And what excites you the most while producing a film?
What excites me is a story or a concept of a film. Sometimes the genre also excites me. We analyze what kinds of films are working and what are the audience liking.
Films come to me mostly at the concept or script level. We don’t buy an already made film. Sometimes, it happens that the script is in place and even actors are on board. So, we come on board as the producer. But even if that’s the case, we sit with the writer and director to understand the film better. And sometimes we even suggest modifications and get it rewritten before we go into production.