Pragya Kapoor’s latest production venture Kedarnath has won a lot of hearts. In this interview, Pragya talks about the making of the Abhishek Kapoor directorial Kedarnath, starring Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput.
Kedarnath was a tough film to shoot and promote. Tell us about the journey of Kedarnath.
I had an amazing team. They were so supportive. It was a journey full of trust and belief. Even though we were going through a low phase at one point, we didn’t feel low or stressed. We just kept going. We knew we are going to make this project, no matter what. And our team believed in us. They kept working and stood by us. Because of that support, it was not as hard on us as it might have been otherwise.
How has your journey as a producer been like?
I did Fitoor with Gattu (director Abhishek Kapoor), but this is my first full-fledged hands-on project as a producer. I had learnt a lot while working on Fitoor, and that really helped me. It was a much bigger film when it came to the budget, scale and locations. It was grander.
Kedarnath, on the other hand, was a physically difficult film to make. It was an incredible experience working on this film too. I have met some incredible HODs who were so open minded, and we have done things which were not done before.
How was it working with your husband and Kedarnath director Abhishek Kapoor? Was it difficult for you to give feedback if it was negative?
I have seen Gattu work on Kai Po Che, Fitoor and now on Kedarnath. So I have always known how he is to work with. I was prepared for that.
The great thing about him is that if you go and tell him that you can’t have this, and that he would need to reimagine and think another way of doing it, he is willing to do that. And that quality turns out to be a great support for all of us handling the production. To have someone who actually listens to you and understands the need of the film and is willing to try new stuff, is great.
Kedarnath was shot in such a beautiful place. However, the terrain was unknown and unpredictable. How did you manage to work around it?
Sushant (Singh Rajput) makes it look really easy with the weight on his back, but it wasn’t that easy. It is definitely not an easy terrain. The production boys had to carry all the lights and cameras up and down that mountain. There was no vanity van access over there. We had to make do with whatever was around and available to us. There was no network there and we had to constantly touch base with Mumbai and Delhi to line up schedules here. Food choices were limited. So, we either had to carry the food up there or eat local food.
The infrastructure there was minimal, but the people were so supportive. There was a wonderful lady who would cook scrumptious local food for the whole crew and serve with so much love.
We all knew exactly what we would face once we started shooting, but having such a supportive team helped. In the mountains, sometimes it would be nice and sunny, and then suddenly it would start raining. We went there in July, which is peak monsoon season, and shooting in all that was the tricky part. But all of us were always on our toes and as soon as the sun would be out, we would shoot.
The audience is appreciating Sara Ali Khan’s work in Kedarnath. How confident were you when you signed her?
I don’t look at the creative stuff. That is Gattu. He had a lot of faith in her. When he met Sara, he just knew that she had that spark in her, and she could handle a film like Kedarnath. She is such a confident girl. When you want to do something really badly, and when you are confident about it, it works. The way she knows what she wants and the way she works hard for it, it shows when she performs. She does not look like someone who has just done her first film.
Kedarnath is also special because of its VFX. What was the process like?
We mixed a lot of live locations, live action and VFX. Mixing these elements and techniques really helped in making things look believable and realistic. The location is also so beautiful that everything looks unreal. So, one cannot always tell if something is real or unreal because of the picturesque location.
We have had a wonderful experience working with the VFX studio. They are very good at what they do. A lot of VFX work for Hollywood projects is done right here in India. We just need to have a vision to give to them so that they can deliver. They have been doing it for long now. They took our critique in the right spirit and worked towards bettering it. And since there was a lot of clarity in what we wanted, it all fell in place.
The film also had to face an unreasonable controversy before it released. How did you tackle that?
I think these controversies are unfortunate. Abhishek has treated the film as his baby. He didn’t want anybody to harm it and he also made sure that he is sensitive to the society. He had taken it as a responsibility that he is not stepping on anyone’s foot. This was the case even when he made Kai Po Che. At that time also, we were dealing with Hindu-Muslims, and we dealt with it responsibly and sensitively. We didn’t show who is right and who is wrong. We are not judging anyone. We are just telling a simple story. He is just too sensitive about his films and what he tells through them, so he never intended to hurt anyone through his films. And most people will see that through Kedarnath.