Since the days of their friendship as classmates, playback singer Arijit Singh and his wife Koyel Roy have dreamt of writing books together. Later, with exposure to the world of entertainment, they say they realised that a movie brings together various streams of creativity and is “a great form of art”. Singh, however, had still not figured out how to make a movie.
Initially, he formed a team which, armed a DSLR camera, used to drive around rural West Bengal and shoot whatever they liked. “I wanted the movie to be made on the (editing) table,” Singh said during a masterclass at IFFI, called ‘Hitting the Right Note’. However, after shooting for nearly one-and-a-half years, they realised they were going nowhere and the pile of footage they had was of no use. It was then that he got down to writing the script of his directorial debut, Sa (Simple Notes), along with Roy, who, Singh said, was “too shy to attend the masterclass”.
Following this, he restarted the process of making the film, which took another two-and-a-half years to complete. Even though he had to discard a lot of footage, the debutante writer-director has learnt that to be a filmmaker one has to be “very patient”. “We were not happy with Sa. However, we had to let go of it. Next movie by us should be better,” he said.
The story of Sa revolves around Lalu, played by Singh’s son, Lalu Pragun Singh. His family migrates to West Bengal from Bangladesh. It is his training under an Indian classical music maestro that helps Lalu cope with the adversities of life as well as come to believe that “simple notes are the toughest yet the most beautiful”. The movie has been produced by Singh under Oriyon Edutainment, which he has set up with an aim to collaborate with like-minded people and forming “a film caravan”.
Singh, who was trained in classical music for 20 years, found recognition with the reality show Fame Gurukul in 2005. However, it’s with the film Aashiqui 2 (2013) that he found wide popularity.
For the character of Lalu, Singh was on the lookout for someone who could portray Lalu’s “innocence and simplicity”.
After much search and suggestions from friends, he decided to cast his son. “By then, he was taking his bath in ponds and climbing trees,” recalls Singh. However, there was one more challenge for him to tackle. “He used to be sleepy during night shoots as 10 pm is his bedtime,” says the singer-director, who has involved classical musicians such Anoushka Shankar in creating the music for Sa.
Next, Singh has to figure out Sa’s release. Looking back, he finds the process of making a movie more tedious. “Filmmaking is tough with so many aspects of a movie to be taken care of; it’s easier to create a song,” he says.