An exclusive interview with film Director Pranjal Singh
Pranjal Singh, a renowned film director from Bollywood has made a good name in the industry till now. Pranjal has made several National and International award-winning films. We got an opportunity to have a chat with Pranjal.
Were you the first bencher or backbencher in school days?
During School days I always tried to get a seat on the last bench. But most of the time I got 2nd last or third last seat. It was a competition with my friends to sit on the last bench. I have never sat on the first bench in my entire life. I was very much scared by mathematics. One thing I have been doing since my school days is I have never justified myself. Because I was loyal to myself. I used to think that if I am right then by no means I will justify myself, irrespective of what others think.
You have made several films on social issues. Which is one of the main issues you think worries you the most?
I've made several films about various social issues, such as tree conservation, water conservation, education, democracy, female molestation, to name a few. To date, every film I've made has dealt with extremely sensitive topics. Zindagi Ek Lamha is the film that I would prefer if I had to choose only one film that is closed to my heart. This film depicts how elderly people are ignored/neglected by both their children, youngsters, and society. The types of issues they face in old age homes once they get old are being ignored by everyone. It's a film that will open people's eyes about society and the children who abandon their parents during tough times.
It's a bit personal, but how is your relationship with your parents? What was their first reaction when you told them you want to go into the film industry, and how did they react to it?
My relationship with my parents is very good. I was not confident enough that I would even pass my secondary exam or not. But my father always encouraged me and showed faith in me. And today in my family I am the most educated human being. As a father, he always wanted to see me working in the government sector as every Indian dad. But as a friend, he never discouraged me or felt guilty, when I was making films. He played both roles perfectly well in real life and whatever I have achieved to date, the credit goes to Father & Mother with their blessings.
Tell us about your struggle. Being an outsider it's very difficult to survive and make a good name in the film industry. Did the outsider tag ever worry you?
There was a struggle, there is a struggle, and there will be a struggle until the last breath. If you accomplish anything without a struggle, you would not feel satisfied from the inside. I've been through the struggle before, and I'm going through it again today. It's difficult to live here as an outsider. If I set my mind to accomplishing something, I will do everything in my power to make it happen. I am stubborn. I love doing work. I hate sitting free and doing nothing. During the night time also when I go to sleep I think if I can use this time to do some productive work.
Who is your dream actor whom you want to work within your film?
Currently, my dream actor is Shahrukh Khan. Earlier it was Irrfan khan. We had discussed one project which we would start in 2021, one film. But I am unfortunate that I was not able to work with him. I am now looking forward to working with Shahrukh Khan and also with Amitabh Bacchan.
What are your thoughts on nepotism?
One thing you first need to accept is Nepotism is everywhere. It's not just limited to the film industry. You can see it in politics, the private sector, government sector & everywhere in the family also. If a father/mother is trying to help in his/her child's career then will you call it nepotism? For me, the definition of nepotism is to kill someone else's rights and give them to someone who does not deserve it. Like if a doctor wants to make his son a doctor, then you can't say it's wrong. This same rule follows for an actor and politicians also. But as I mentioned, if you kill someone else's rights and give them to someone who does not deserve it then it's wrong.
We have heard that you got several death threats, calls from goons, how you deal with it?
In my life I got many, I have always said to them the cost for one bullet is just 80 Rupees. Bullets are not having a name mentioned for whom it is. You can shoot me if you think I did any sort of crime. I will not stop making the right films. During the initial days, I was a bit scared but I thought I will not compromise with my work. I want to portray the clear-cut image of society that is my job, then I should not fear anyone. I tried to tell them my intention is not wrong. Whatever I am doing is the reality and you have to accept it. Some of them understood some not.
Well, Bihar is the hub of politics. And not asking you questions related to politics will be like disrespecting you not as a director but as a civilian who belongs to Bihar. How do you see the current situation of the country and Bihar?
Around 30-40 years back Bihar was having a great number of Raw materials. It was transporting it to several other states in India. But they were not importing anything from states. And once Jharkhand was formed then most of the industries shifted to their side. People of Bihar trapped themselves in religion-based politics and not in development-based politics. And the downfall of Bihar started in the mid-'90s. Bihar needs to work on literacy rate and employability. We have seen most IAS/IPS/IRS officers are from Bihar. But due to lack of resources, they never come back and migrate from Bihar. So the government must look to bring some industries and also to provide quality education to Bihar children. Bihar is one of the great states & really can do many things because it's a growing state & I want to do many many things for the state, and many things are in pipeline.
Being one of the biggest film industries, Bollywood is not able to win an Oscar award. Do you think Oscar is overrated or Bollywood not able to produce Oscar-level films? Where do you think Bollywood is lagging?
Definitely not. You can't say Bollywood is lagging. Bollywood is having great potential. The problem is, films that are made in Bollywood are made from a marketing point of view. In Bollywood, a film can survive only when it's having great melodious songs, fight scenes, exceptional locations, and a big star cast. In the end, the main intention is to get the revenues. In India we have never seen cinema as an art, we make commercial films. The value of stories is a bit less and stars' value is greater. It's about the taste of the audience.
You are a good motivator and a great speaker. You have also given speeches in various Universities like Delhi University, Mumbai University, Jain (Deemed to be University), Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Amity University & Many More. How was your experience?
Great experience. I have also worked as a mentor and as a professor in various universities. I always thought that one day I will teach students who are in the media sector and management colleges. I want them to know what is happening in the actual industry. And my motive is to provide accurate knowledge of light, cameras, media, print, etc to the students. And as far as I know, I have worked with 23 colleges/institutes & universities. And I want to specially mention, during this pandemic I worked as a full-time teacher for around 10 months in one college. Students of this college were not able to receive a quality education. Along with this, the teachers were also facing several issues. Teachers were cheated for their salaries. The salary printed on the appointment letter and that was given in hand was having a huge difference. Salaries were not paid on time. They used to deduct money without any reason. This university was run with the support of one private company. The faculty were frustrated that too in covid pandemic time. Faculties were not provided with PF, Medical insurance, and various other facilities. Most of the faculty left the job in 10 days, 20 days, 50 days. And when I researched about this and I found this thing has been happening for the past 4-5 years. Ever since these private sector companies are involved in the education field, we have lost quality in education. I would like to request trusts, universities, to not do wrong with the future of students and faculties, else our nation will go back many years & will also request never connect with private consultancy in educations
What are your future plans in terms of films and for society?
After my past experience, I have decided to open a non-profit institute. This institute will provide a free or minimal amount of education to children belonging to poor families. I think "learning today is living tomorrow" should be the motto of our society.
And coming to films, I am looking forward to giving new technology to the film industry. I am working on a gaming film. Like if you are watching any film, let's say Dabbang, and you want Shahrukh Khan in place of Salman Khan, then through this technology, you can change the actor. This will not take place as animation, it will take place realistically. & In the coming days, Immersive technologies will be used in this. We will be providing this technology to Nalanda university free of cost, the motto will tell the world about the history & the first resident university of India, Bihar, Nalanda, which functioned between the 5th and 13th centuries.
Anything you want to say or Add?
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything, The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.