Shivani Saran
Film Producer known for Lunchbox, Dil Dhadakne Do, Gold

Lunchbox is a case study on how it’s been structured. That was an Indo-American-French-German official co-production. Qissa was the first Indo-French-German co-production. So the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) actually had the mandate of investing in films. Either they would be first-time filmmakers from India, which would show a lot of support for regional cinema. Or if we wanted to do something a little more accessible—I want to call it mainstream—then co-productions were encouraged. Because then it would have a director who’s either made one or two fine films and would be able to attract foreign investments… The second side of the NFDC was actually the film bazaar that was put together, and that was really the NFDC facilitating a market on the ground for people to come in and meet. And I think the kind of connections Film Bazaar brought helped everyone understand how co-productions work. Because we’ve had co-production treaties for a long time, we’ve just never known how to work with them.

In Gold, we see the entire 1948 London Olympics being laid bare. And that’s why it was important to shoot there. We can always build sets here and do indoor stuff. But stadiums, getting those many foreign hockey players, and the kind of cars they have, we don’t get there. You won’t get the vehicles at that time. It’s just not worth importing for a shoot. That’s why it makes sense to shoot there.

I remember we got a lot of attention from Bradford local newspapers and Yorkshire newspapers, saying that not only were we talking about an important time in British history, the film also had one of India’s biggest stars. We spent a lot of time there, and we used a lot of local crew and we used a lot of local hockey players. Foreigners were all auditioned and cast locally in Yorkshire itself. We hired a casting director in London. And she helped out with it. And then we just put out casting calls to all hockey associations. When I went for a reconnaissance, I met a lot of hockey associations there. I told them, Whoever matches our age, just tell them to come for try outs.

A lot of people are now happy to consider foreign narratives. Because it’s possible to shoot there. You can shoot anywhere in the world now, it’s not a problem. The cities are more conducive to action. In Bombay, shutting down the city and blow up 20 cars is just not doable. And we don’t have the studios for it. Sometimes, for example, outside of London, you have Pinewood Studios. You can do any of that without restricting traffic or hurting anyone. And you have the crews for it. We have some great action crews here, but what they can do with pyro or special effects, we don’t have that just yet.

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