Northeast artistes feature in Bollywood horror thriller

By Our Reporter

(L-R) Satyakam Anand, Shridhar Watsar, Producer Shaijuu Nambiadat, Producer Pradip Kurbah, Vishakha Singh, Director Nikhil Allug and others.

Shillong: Bollywood has not only come here for shooting but is casting some of our own talents from the region as well. Cat N Mouse Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai (makers of Michael with Naseeruddin Shah) in collaboration with Kurbah Film are wrapping up a month long shoot of a horror thriller titled The Maya Tape directed by Nikhil Allug which is slated for an all India release this autumn (2012).

This venture is historic because for the first time ever, noted artistes of the Northeast (Assam & Meghalaya) will feature alongside Bollywood actors. This movie has given those with acting talent in the North East a toehold in Bollywood. The film was shot for the most part at Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio, Guwahati, and in areas around Shillong and has already struck a vibe with the local people who have been thronging shooting locations to catch a glimpse of Bollywood stars and also to encourage their favourite local artistes.

One of the actors speaking to The Shillong Times said, “It is through sheer will power that we have made it to the bigger league. Attaining a part in a Bollywood film, no matter how small a role is no mean task, especially with a very strong lineup of co-artistes.”

The Maya Tape features Vishakha Singh (Humsey Hai Jahaan, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, Nominated, Stardust Award for Breakthrough Performance – Female), Nawazzuddin Siddiqui (Munna Bhai MBBS, Black Friday, New York, Peepli Live forthcoming Kahaani), Satyakam Anand (Gangs of Wasseypur), Kali Prasad Mukherjee (Agyaat, A Wednesday), Shridhar Watsar (Michael, popular serial Krishnaben Khakrawala) while northeast artistes include Anup Hazarika, Angoorlata, Ranjeev Baruah, Rajesh Bhuyan, Chinmay Chakraborty, Achinta Shankar, Enshon Lamare (Ka Mon Bajwat) and Merlvin Mukhim (Hep, Dei Maphi).

Other major technicians in the film include Vijay Mishra (Mumbai), director of photography, and Jyoti Shankar Bhattacharya (Assam) as Art Director.

The film budgeted between Rs 3 and 3.5 crore has been shot in two dialects (Hindi and Bengali), which would mean a better reach throughout India given its diversity and language divide.

Speaking of the movie, producers Pradip Kurbah, Rameish Sharma and Shaijuu Nambiadat said, “We are happy to bring this venture to the North East, seeing the astounding natural beauty and the abundance of talent here. We hope to make a small difference by showcasing them to the rest of India and the world. This entire experience has been a pleasant surprise for us as well as the artist fraternity from Mumbai.”

“There definitely is no dearth of acting talent here, and the technician quality is definitely at par with that of the Bollywood industry,” added Nambiadat.

The producers were keen to shoot two of their future projects abroad. However, after seeing the northeast locales they changed their plans and are thinking of doing future projects in NER which they say offers a spectacular ambience. It was Kurbah who had suggested that this region could serve the purpose given the story line and script structure of The Maya Tape (initially slated to be shot in Maharashtra). Kurbah brought in a group to do a recce of Shillong and its suburbs. There has been no turning back since.

Pradip Kurbah of Kurbah Films himself an ardent film maker said, “This should be the start of a brighter future for the industry in NER, and Meghalaya in particular. I thank the people of Meghalaya and Assam for their continued support and encouragement. It is one of the primary reasons behind my decision to take this challenge head on,” a humble remark by Kurbah given the reputation that he enjoys in the industry.

While the film industry in most parts of NER is thriving and enabling artistes and technicians to make a living, Meghalaya is yet to have an established arena for film making. Considering the available talent pool of artistes, technicians and Mass Communication students passing out from the State each year, the Government could pitch in to create a viable scenario. Lack of incentives has dampened the enthusiasm of many talented individuals. giving up and shying away from this otherwise artistic line of work. Well meaning people and local production companies had tried their bit since 2005.

On an average, Meghalaya produces more feature films and music videos each year as compared to any other state in NER despite the volume of sales and limited market potential. This is why producers in this State are better known as ‘brave hearts,’ given past and present government apathy.

Interestingly, the shooting charges in most locations in and around the city are exorbitant. Add to that the running around from one government department to another for permission. Generator sets, make-up vans and other necessary equipments are still being brought in from Assam, and infrastructure (studio floors) are not available.

On the positive side, this is not the first time that a Bollywood film has been shot in the picturesque locales of NER but the difference this time is the involvement of technicians and artistes in significant roles from the region. This is due to the pro-active role played by noted film maker and music composer Pradip Kurbah and now in his new avatar as producer.

Such unique ventures will hopefully keep investors and film funding agencies interested. The Maya Tape has all the flavours necessary for a good show, and the makings of a filmy hit – Bollywood style.

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