Actress-producer Priyanka Chopra’s Sikkimese production Pahuna will have its trailer screened at the upcoming edition of the Cannes Film Festival, says the movie’s director Paakhi A. Tyrewala.
The prestigious gala is due to begin on May 17, and apart from Bollywood actresses Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, India will be represented on the platform by the team of Pahuna.
Paakhi didn’t disclose much about the trip to the French Riviera, but said over the phone: “Its trailer showcasing is in Cannes this year.”
Talking about the Mary Kom star and her mother Madhu’s involvement in the project, the debutante director said: “When Priyanka got on board, things got very easy. The Sikkim government is almost like a co-producer of the film. The project started from March 2016. Priyanka got on the board in December.
“She came to India and met me. Soon, the film’s recce began and we started shooting in March. Priyanka as a producer is extremely supportive. She has a vision and sees the world very differently from most of the producers I’ve seen.”
She said for Priyanka, who is supporting the film through her and her mother’s banner Purple Pebble Pictures, it’s not only about money.
“She is financially very sound, especially her mother. They know their numbers and still have a vision. ‘Pahuna’ doesn’t have a regional market. They saw it as world cinema. So, it feels good to have somebody by my side who exactly understands it.”
Priyanka often flies in and out of India due to her commitment to the American TV series Quantico, apart from Hollywood film Baywatch, which is ready to hit the screens on June 2.
But apart from acting in international and Bollywood projects, she also manages to take out time to produce regional films. In fact, she also made an appearance in her debut Marathi production venture Ventilator.
Will she do the same in Pahuna? “No,” said Paakhi.
Any known faces in the film?
“It has local talent — Amol Subba and Ishika Gurung,” said the director, based in Mumbai.
Since she stays miles away from the northeast state, how did it strike her to make a movie based on it?
“I was in Sikkim 13 years ago. I was an Art of Living teacher. I fell in love with the state. Then the story came to me,” she said.
“The whole idea was not the lack of competition, but the fact that we will be the first feature film there. There have been (Sikkimese) films, but they have been more like home videos. There’s no film industry as such.
“The idea was to start a film industry in Sikkim. A lot of people don’t even know that it is a part of India. They think one needs a passport to go there. I believe stories bring people together.”
Didn’t language pose a problem for her?
“I don’t know the language that well. I had a local boy, Bishwas. He helped me with the dialogues in Nepali and Sikkimese,” said the wife of director Abbas Tyrewala, to whom she gives full credit for encouraging her to make the film.
“Whenever I would say ‘I can’t do it’, he would say ‘You have the passion. Hold on to it’.”
She also got help from the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI).
“Had it been just CFSI, it would have been just a regional film. Pahuna, which means a visitor, is an international film. It’s a big story in a small area,” she said about the movie which will premiere in Sikkim in October.
Is it a children’s film?
“It can be viewed by children, but it’s not a children’s film. It’s about children. When you say a children’s film, you see it as a simplistic film or just an entertaining film.
“We are dealing with issues like gender bias, the idea of currency… Money is money, but there is a currency divide, impact of older people on children, our fear of the unknown.”
Last month, Presidential approval was given to a parliamentary panel recommendation that the National Film Development Corporation either dub regional movies in Hindi or carry subtitles. Does she consider it a good move?
“I think it’s a smart move to increase the market of regional films. Look at ‘Baahubali’. It is doing so well. Ideally, I would like it to be only subtitles, but a lot of people don’t want to read while watching a movie.
“I’d say take it (regional film) to every state and dub it accordingly.”