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Slum life

Raja Menon,who ventured into feature film direction five years ago with Bas Yun Hi,is now ready with his second project titled Barah Aana,which is scheduled to release on March 20.

Written by Ruma Malia |
March 7, 2009 5:00:37 am

Set in Dharavi and co-produced by an Italian,Barah Aana is a light-hearted comedy that celebrates the universal language of story-telling

Raja Menon,who ventured into feature film direction five years ago with Bas Yun Hi,is now ready with his second project titled Barah Aana,which is scheduled to release on March 20. This time,he’s got Naseeruddin Shah,Tannishtha Chatterjee (of Brick Lane fame),Italian star Violante Placido,Vijay Raaz and Arjun Mathur to make for an interesting cast. A light-hearted comedy set in Mumbai,the film revolves around the life of three friends—a driver,a watchman and a waiter—who stumble into crime and then lured by the money,keep at it.

A 97-minute movie that has premiered at film festivals in Goa,Kerala and Pune,Barah Aana has also been invited for screening at New York’s Museum of Modern Arts in June. In fact,with co-producer Giulia Achilli on board,the Bandra West Pictures banner’s plans included roping in international funding in-sync with the foreign film funding draft being developed by the Italian Ministry of Culture. However,Barah Aana’s Mumbai-centric script required the film’s post-production be done in Italy if it had to match the draft’s criteria. And this was not feasible according to Achilli as that was increasing the film’s cost by a whopping 40 per cent.

Ask director Menon if the recent success of Slumdog Millionaire,thanks to its high-budget and subsequent technical excellence,makes him look back at the offer and he says,“Fortunately,we have not had to compromise on the film’s budget. In fact,I think more funds too can result in a waste.”

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The filmmaker,who met Menon at the networking event ‘Italy Meets Bollywood’,says,“I found the concept extremely interesting. What helped was that I was the only person in the delegation who had been living in Mumbai for quite a while and thus was better able to connect to the story. To me the beauty of cinema is to be able to travel and tell stories through its universal language.” She adds,“As for as the Italian funding is concerned,I don’t really blame anyone since there is no Italian connection in the film as such. The only three factors are Violante,Lavazza coffee and myself. Otherwise I think it is a full-on Hindi film even though it does not fit into the typical Bollywood space. It is definitely commercial.”

The frothy market for unconventional films that was at its peak before the economic downturn,is what sparked co-producer Raj Yerasi’s interest in the film,along with recurrent discussions about the project with Menon. According to Yerasi,the film,which has been shot entirely in Mumbai,mostly on outdoor locations like the CST station and Dharavi,has been produced on a medium-budget on the lines of projects like A Wednesday.

At that,one can’t help notice the common factor between the two films — Naseeruddin Shah. “Having an actor like him on board translates into everyone else trying to push themselves. Though it may be a bit unnerving at that moment,it really makes you re-think about what you are doing and why,” says Menon.

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