At a time when most children are happy just going to school and playing with simple toys, there's a nine-year old who wants to do something different. Kishan Shrikant is to make his debut as a director with C/o Footpath. Produced by his mother, Shailaja Shrikant, it is to be dubbed in a number of languages.
His mother says that there were many who wanted to produce the movie, but she decided to do it herself. "We have spent Rs 55 lakh so far," she says, and the final budget with publicity will go up to Rs 75 lakh.
Patcy N caught up with her son, the little director
"I am from Bangalore. I was born in 1996. My father is an assistant commissioner (commercial tax) and mom is a music director who has also directed movies. My first movie, as an actor, was Gramdevtey and I have acted in 24 so far. The last I acted in was Jogi. If I get good roles, I will continue acting. But once I grow up, I will get into direction fulltime.
I wrote a short story for slum children and showed it to my father, who showed it to some of his friends. They felt I should direct it. That's when I began my preparation. My parents bought books and DVDs on direction, story and screenplay from the Hollywood film institute. My mother explained it all to me. When we used to go on sets for my acting assignments, I watched other directors and asked them about the scenes we were shooting. The best part is they would explain it to me.
I am in class V. When I am free from my acting and directing assignments, I go to school. My friends lend me their books to copy all the notes and my teachers encourage me. I will complete my studies. I will see to it that my acting and directing will not collide with my exams.
C/o Footpath is a story about a slum boy. He passes class VII in nine years and class X in ten years, without going to school. How he does this is the crux of the story. His parents throw him on the footpath after drugging him. He is woken up by other slum children and taken home by a washerwoman.
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There was a function organised by Prakash Bhandari uncle and I was invited. Jackie Shroff uncle attended it and we met. Jackie uncle asked me for a role in C/o Footpath. I just smiled and forgot about it. After a few days, Prakash Bhandari uncle called and asked me about the character I had given Jackie uncle. I was shocked. I sat with my screenplay and dialogue writer and decided on the character of a chief minister, which was suitable for his personality.
I saw a movie called Haseena in which Thaara had acted. I liked her and gave her the role of a teacher. I narrated the story to her. She liked it and immediately accepted the role.
The idea for the film came to me when I saw slum children selling newspapers on the street one morning. I asked my dad why they were selling newspapers and he told me they had no parents and needed to earn money for themselves. When I heard that, I felt bad and decided to do something for them. I wrote a short story about their lives. It is a story about the world's underprivileged children. Today, the government gives free food and education to children, but slum children still do not study. So I thought of making a film that would drive them towards an education.
The movie is in Kannada. So, when Saurabh uncle and Jackie uncle do their scenes, I explain it in English and give them the feel of the character. For Jackie uncle, I prompt the dialogues. Saurabh uncle writes the whole scene and dialogues in Hindi, then does his scenes.
It is not tough to direct senior actors. I tell them, they listen and even suggest changes if necessary. We do rehearsals before a shoot and I sometimes act and show them, as I am an actor myself.
The movie will be dubbed in many languages. For every state and language, we will re-shoot scenes that specify the area. We will change the number plates on cars and buses, and even change signboards if there are any.
I have written to the Guinness Books of World Records, as I am the youngest director, but it is not a conscious decision to get into the record books. My first goal is direction. All other things are secondary. I want all slum kids educated, that's all.
I once had a dream where slum children dressed in school uniform were selling newspapers before going off to school. I haven't incorporated that dream in my movie though. We have still not decided whether we will donate some part of the profit to underprivileged children, but we may at a later stage.
My second film will be in Hindi. Although I am not fluent in the language, I can understand and speak a little. But I have not decided what topic I want to work on. I like to watch all kinds of movies. In Hindi, my favourite is Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham. Among English films, it is I, Robot and Jurassic Park among many more.
When I am not directing and studying, I sit at my computer and work on graphics. I don't like to play much. I prefer working."