The trappings of a nine to five job,its comfort and security,could never entice them. All of us got jobs,worked for two months and then tossed it out of the window. We couldnt allow ourselves to get in the habit of monthly salary, says Chandan Gill. Like-minded friends Vivek Sharma,Varun Khokker,Abhinav Chhabra,Navya Mittar,Guneet Dogra and Krishan Gulati soon joined in,and together,this bunch took to the arts.
Armed with mass communication degrees from Chitkara University,these 20-somethings marched towards the theatre with Alankar Theatre group. Before they knew it,they were deep into experimental and realistic theatre,picking stories,and improvising them to suit contemporary times. Rape,corruption or politics our acts revolved around current issues, says Sharma. Gill credits Alankars Chakresh Kumar for teaching them everything about theatre and Vishal Bajaj for teaching them about film casting and production.
It was in the winter of 2011 that the group gave an official face to their work. One of Mumbais noted casting directors,Dilip Shankars assistant Sanjeev Maurya was in town,scouting for Punjabi actors for Rakeysh Omprakash Mehras Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. This presented them with an opportunity to chip in,and Gill took upon the challenge. We selected Parvesh Sethi to play a Pakistani sports minister,Japtej Singh to play a younger Milkha Singh,and myself as Sampreet Singh,Milkhas childhood friend, says Gill. With this project,they launched their own production company,Friday Arts Production Media Group .
Since then,the group has worked on short films,documentaries,feature films,music albums and ad films. From casting and location hunting to shooting and production they have ventured into various directions. Their recent projects include Anoop Singhs Indo-German film Qissa,Oscar-winner Danis Tanivocs film White Lies,Anil Kapoor Productions next international film,and Viacom18 Motion Pictures short films being produced in association with Anurag Kashyap Films Private Limited. Working on Shlok Sharmas short film Hidden Cricket gave them a taste of guerilla filmmaking,in contrast to the steady pace of Anubhuti Kashyaps Moi Marjaani.
The group is also working on their individual features,starting with Gills Monkey in a Love Story,an abstract revolving around freedom fighters and their love for freedom. Khokher has taken up a rather dark subject,of people in love with objects,in his film Sweety. Sharmas The Stronger Will Survive ventures into the battlefield,war reporting,dilemmas of a reporter and manipulation of news. While Gulati explores the class division in Welcome to City Beautiful,Dogra is working on Looh,a film about a relationship between a 23-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
Apart from this,the group is working on a biopic on Hari Singh Nalwa and Hira Singh Bhattal; and their first Punjabi film is a comedy written by Manshender Singh about a man who is defrauded of his money and how he recovers it. A lot of people tell us to move to Mumbai; they say the future is there. But Mumbai works in shifts,its mechanical. We want to stay here,create a responsible and productive industry here, says Gill.