Anand Surapur is no stranger to the world of showbiz. He began his journey by making ad films under the banner of Phat Phish Productions and directed ad films for brands such as Dominos Pizza (which featured Paresh Rawal), Thumbs Up (which featured the popular Telugu star Chiranjeevi) and the ad for Bajaj’s range of two wheelers (Pulsar, Spirit) which used a revamped version of the iconic Hamara Bajaj jingle and was aired during the early 2000’s.
Surapur also directed several music videos that caught the viewer’s attention owing to their unconventional visuals and execution. These include Bombay Vikings’ ‘Kya Soorat Hai’, Bally Sagoo’s’ Noorie’ and Instant Karma’s remix of the song ‘Saamne Yeh Kaun Aaya’ from the Randhir Kapoor and Jaya Bachchan starrer Jawani Diwani (1972).
Having worked with the biggest of ad agencies and having directed more than 400 ads for major brands, Surapur soon diverted his attention towards feature film production and eventually direction. As a producer, he has produced films such as Shashanka Ghosh’s Quick Gun Murugun and Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s Frozen.
Soon Surapur jumped on to the directorial bandwagon and thus The Fakir Of Venice was born. Apparently inspired by the life of filmmaker Homi Adajnia (Being Cyrus, Finding Fanny), the film tells the story of two conmen who are hired to find a poor guy to be represented in Venice with the intent of pulling of a scam.
The film which stars Farhan Akhtar, Annu Kapoor and Kamal Siddhu among others is scheduled for a theatrical release soon.
The Madaboutmoviez team recently caught up with Anand Surapur and spoke to him about his journey, the making of Fakir Of Venice, working with Farhan Akhtar and more.
Republished below are excerpts from the same.
From directing ad films and music videos to establishing a reputed music label to producing films, you have chartered an interesting journey. Could you tell us about how it all began?
It all began thanks to my mom. She was crazy about movies and singing and would religiously watch all the new films first day first show. So I guess, when I was in her womb I unconsciously imbibed all of this (laughs).
I was all of 19 and was doing my undergrad in Electrical Engineering in University of Missouri city, Kansas and really had no interest in films or such. But when I visited Alaska during my summer vacation in 1991, I met a documentary film crew and hung around with them. And it was there when I got interested in filmmaking and decided to pursue it.
So I guess the interest was always there, it just needed a push. Soon I quit engineering and promptly got into films. And from there on, there was no looking back. Once again my mom was the single reason why I got into films. As most of the process came naturally to me, that’s why I give her all the credit.
What prompted you to make your directorial debut with The Fakir of Venice?
It was the story! As far as I can remember, Sanjay Sami narrated this story about how Homi (Adjania) took a fakir to Venice. I got really interested in this story as I could not believe such an incident actually occurred and was really intrigued by it.
Could you take us through the scripting and creative process involved in the film? What was the toughest part of helming this project?
Rajesh Devraj wrote the script, screenplay and dialogues. He maintained the basic storyline, but most of the stuff is fictionalised. My job was to direct it and keep it real. Since Rajesh kept the story and screenplay real, it was much easier for me. The toughest part of the film was getting the finances sorted as it was not a commercial story and as everyone knows if you are in the non commercial bracket; it is very tough to secure finances.
How did your creative process evolve as you made the transition from directing ad films and music videos to feature films?
Well it’s the same creative process for ads, music videos and films, except that the length is different.In films you have to hold the attention for a longer time, that’s the only difference. I personally did not feel much of a difference.
The film boasts of an exciting cast which includes Farhan Akhtar and Annu Kapoor. Could you tell us about how the casting came through? Could you talk about your experience of working with Farhan Akhtar who is an established filmmaker himself?
Farhan was actually suggested by Anju Devraj. Since me and Farhan were also friends, I sent him the script and he really liked it. We did a reading and he came onboard for the project. He also really fit the part. He and Homi were friends and the character was close to home and so he could really relate to it. Farhan really did justice to the part.
Annu ji is a mind blowing actor. I did not want anyone to pity Annu ji’s character and he played the part with grace and dignity. He and Farhan are brilliant and they really complement each other in a very odd way. And I guess that was the intention, to show two different people hailing from different socio-economic background coming together.
Since Farhan is a friend so that made the whole experience easy and him already being established as a big director added to the ease.
I have been working on a film called Love is Blind and I am also thinking of working on Quick Gun Murugan 2. But who knows? There might be something completely new in the offing. Or I could just take some time off and relax a little bit. Thinking about the future is too tedious. So one day at a time works for me.
Any advice for those wanting to make a career in the filmmaking business?
Don’t do it!