By Jyothi Venkatesh
Producer- Actor- Writer- director Sammir Iqbal Patel is all set to make a riveting OTT web series- an Indo-Canadian romantic love story called ‘Canada Diaries (Love across the Order). It will be a fast paced love story in Hindi and will comprise Indian and Canadian artists. The web series is to be produced by Canada and Sip production Mumbai. The new series will feature actors par excellence like Brijendra Kala, Navneet Nishant, Rakesh Srivastav and some Canadian artists. The lead pair will be a new boy and a new young girl. The series, which will have eight episodes will be launched with a 30 days schedule, with each of duration of 40 minutes, says SAMMIR IQBAL PATEL in this interview.
Why did you take up direction after your acting stint in theatre initially?
As an actor, I used to watch a lot of films and felt that a lot of the so called directors were actually misdirecting. As IL was also a writer, I decided to take up direction too and realized that I enjoyed direction more than writing
Tell me something about the web series Canadian Diaries?
Canada Diaries is a romantic situational comedy, and has the backdrop of a restaurant as its premise. It is not at all a slapstick comedy. And “Love across the Order” is the tagline of the web series. While I am seriously toying with the idea of casting a big star in the role of the owner of the restaurant in my series, two new faces are being introduced in the lead characters in the series. It is a fast paced love story with lots of wit and humor, which all the patrons will certainly enjoy. I am also looking forward to casting some more new faces in my web series. I am looking forward to make something different and interesting for the OTT platform. The shooting will start soon and completed in Canada and India this year.
You have also made a film called Hotel Beautifool with Johny Lever in the lead!
The film Hotel Beautifool starred Johny Lever along with some TV stars. If Hotel Beautifool revolved around the premise of a hotel, ‘Canada Diaries (Love Across The Order) will deal with the premise of a restaurant. I have also dealt with the premise of airlines earlier in one of my series too. Though I was associated with TV serials like Yeh Chandha Kanoon and Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai earlier, I do not find it exciting to direct TV serials as I feel it is a monotonous task.
Johny Lever and Brijendra Kala are your staunch favorite actors!
I had met Johnyji as a writer earlier for a film to be directed by Vinay Kothare which did not materialize. He is a complete director’s actor who does not at all interfere with the director. He has even gone on record that he could not believe that I was making my debut as a director with Hotel Beautifool. Brijendra Kala was in my theatre group and we used to act as chacha-bhatija in a play. Our bonding had started there. I love both Johnyji and Brikjemdra Kala
Are you also planning to make Pink Vodka?
Pink Vodka is about four dare devil young girls caught in a murder and how they set out to deal with it.
What is your view of the current pandemic which has forced people to sit at home and watch OTT platforms?
I feel that there are both plus as well as minus points as far as OTT platforms are concerned. Though I’d love to go to multiplexes and watch films armed with packet after packet of popcorn, I am equally confident that very soon within the next five years, a day will dawn when the OTT platforms too will start embracing new technologies and watching a film on OTT at home will also prove to be equally satisfying, besides watching a film in the big cinema houses.
How open are you to cast newcomers in your film as opposed to the mega stars?
I like to make content based film with good actors who set out to do justice to their roles. I cast Jia Sharma in my film Hotel Beautifool even before she was spotted and cast in Arjun Reddy, the original Telugu original version of the Hindi hit remake Kabir Singh. Jia had played the second lead in the Telugu film and is today a sought after star in Telugu Cinema.
Does it mean that you are against casting stars in your projects?
Who would not like to cast know stars to sell their projects? The demand and supply in the film and web industry is like in any other industry and you need to film to be marketed with stars. I would certainly like to make films with my favorite actors like Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone who are also equally good stars.
Does it mean that you are ready to bet on OTT platforms in the changed scenario?
Let’s face facts; Cinema will stay relevant only for those who are ready to splurge over 1000 bucks for a single outing with the family and not everybody as OTT has become the most convenient alternative. Today OTT platforms have become better and you can watch a film on your mobile phone at any time and any place.
Do you think that theatres and OTT platforms can start showcasing films simultaneously in the near future?
Ideally theatres and OTT ought to co-exist but then economically it is not feasible at all. Though theatres sell tickets for steep prices like Rs 200, Rs 300 and Rs 500, fanatical fans throng to theatres in the first week end to see films starring their favorite stars; it is the OTT platform that guarantees greater viewership with audiences spread in over 220 countries all over the world.
You have an edge over other filmmakers as far as OTT is concerned!
Yes. As I have broken through various OTT platforms, I think I have an edge on OTT. But I will take the call after I come to know what my producers feel since basically I am a producer’s director and make web series as well as films on a very moderate budget, I always think from the producer’s point of view.