Producer Jay Shewakramani has an interesting line-up of projects set to come out in 2022 and beyond.
He is presently busy with the much-awaited Freddy, starring Kartik Aaryan and Alaya F in primary roles. Directed by Shashanka Ghosh, the new-age romantic thriller is set for its theatrical bow in 2022.
In a candid conversation with Eastern Eye, Jay Shewakramani, who is also a writer, talks about what made him fall in love with cinema, his plans for exploring the digital medium, and forthcoming ventures. He also reveals what makes him the happiest – writing or production. Excerpts…
I would like to begin by asking that what made you fall in love with cinema in the first place?
Love for cinema started pretty early in life. My father would take us to cinema halls every Friday for every film that released. It did not matter whether it was good, bad, or ugly. We used to be in cinema halls from 3 to 6 watching a film. That habit continued through school. Even today, I am in some or the other cinema hall watching a film every weekend. More than love, I think, cinema is in my DNA.
In 2013, you debuted as a producer with Race 2. Why did you decide to venture into film production?
I started as a creative producer with Race 2 and that continued for a few more films with Tips Industries. The gradual step would be upward to produce your own films. One is creatively handling films that are being made under a production house and then finally wanting to actually produce the kind of content that you also believe in. So, I think it is a gradual step and growth from a creative producer to becoming a producer.
As a producer, do you ever involve in casting?
As a producer, I feel that not only in casting but one is involved in every department of the film also. One tends to have an opinion on everything. I believe that filmmaking is a very democratic process, so one goes ahead with what is best for the film.
Apart from being a producer, you are a writer also. Has the writer in you taken a backseat since you are quite busy on the production front?
I have always been involved in content that we make and produce under Northern Lights Films. Having said that, it is hard to find time to do physical writing. Also, I do not think that I am so good at it, so I am happy producing films as of now.
Which role do you enjoy most – writer or producer?
I would say that I enjoy being a producer more because then you are not stuck to just one department of filmmaking; you get involved in a lot of other departments as well. It is more fun to do. Having said that, at some point, I would definitely sit down to write and it may be soon.
Freddy, starring Kartik Aaryan and Alaya F in principal roles, is your next production venture. What can you tease about the much-awaited film?
It is a story that has been with us for some time. It is something very close to my heart. All I can say about Freddy right now is that I am extremely, extremely excited about it. It is cliched to say that it is different, but I would say that it is a new age romantic thriller.
How did you come about partnering with Ekta Kapoor on this project?
We had been talking about doing a film for some time. People from Balaji Motion Pictures had been in touch over the years. We both wanted to work together, but things did not fall in place back then. I am so happy that it is finally happening with Freddy. I must say that the journey has been fantastic.
Will you be exploring the digital space in the near future or do you just want to focus on the big screen?
I believe that in today’s age, content is beyond mediums. If it is good content, the screen size does not matter. If I come across something which I feel is great for digital space, I am more than happy to explore that.
Do you think it is going to be difficult for filmmakers to bring audiences back to cinemas in a post-Covid world?
I am a firm believer that cinemas will make a comeback in full swing. I also believe that numbers will be better than pre-pandemic this time around because I do not think anything can replace the experience of going to cinema halls.
Do you think that theatres and streaming platforms can co-exist without eating into each other’s markets?
Cinemas and digital platforms to me will always co-exist. It is like a restaurant business; you get your food delivered at times and also go out to eat. There is enough space for everybody to grow. In fact, the production of content has increased considerably thanks to OTT platforms. People now can have the choice of sitting back, relaxing, and watching stuff at home. And, at the same time, they can go out, experience the cinema, and eat. So, yeah, they will completely co-exit.
What would you say is your motto in life?
My motto in life is pretty simple – live and let live.
What else is in store for you?
A lot of exciting stuff one can expect in the coming years from Northern Lights Films. Right now, we are in pre-production for Sujoy Ghosh’s Devotion of Suspect X. There are a few films in the pipeline which we will announce when the time is right.