Report by OdishaDiary bureau, New Delhi
: Internationally acclaimed film director Nila Madhab Panda's has decided to cast leading Odia actress Anu Choudhary in a prominent and crucial role in his new youth film. Director Panda who hails from Odisha is now ready to roll his new musical film that will have its focus on the youth of today.
After the success of two children-centric films 'I Am Kalam' and 'Jalpari', director Panda is now ready to roll his new musical film that will have its focus on the youth of today. Scheduled to be shot this winter in Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, the new film's pre-production work is already on.
An excited Panda says, “It’s a story of present-day youth, and of their idea of love, commitment and relationship, shown through a beautiful musical journey. The story develops through some incredibly beautiful songs belonging to various genres, such as Trans, Bhangra, Salsa and Sufi. The story is told through the music and emotional drama. And it will shot at a time when the temperatures in Himachal Pradesh drop to around minus 5 degree as the film requires a landscape with heavy snowfall. We will be shooting the film in and around Manali in December."
"This was suppose to be my first film, I have worked for 5 years on this script. It's a story of 3 boys and 4 girls who discover truths about relationship, sexuality and responsibility during a journey that turns out to be the journey of their lives," he says.
Even though Panda has been based in Delhi since mid-1990s, his heart lies in Odisha. And he is going to prove it too in his new film, as he has decided to cast leading Odia actress Anu Choudhary in a prominent and crucial role in his new film. “She is I think one of the most talented artistes in our industry, I have seen her work and I really liked it, so more then just the Odia connection it's her talent which got my casting people to finalise her. For this role, we had three other known faces from Bollywood in contention," he, however, says downplaying the 'Odia connection'. Sources close to him say Panda was considering Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koirala and Raima Sen for the role Choudhary is now playing.
Talking about the project, Anu Choudhary says, "He discussed the film with me, and I was very excited to hear about it. Of course, the first thing that got me excited was the way he presents his stories in his films, which is something absolutely great. He is one of the filmmakers who have made a mark nationally and internationally through his films, and anyone would be keen to work with him. I am glad that he choose me for this film. It's an exciting film and I am waiting to start working in it."
Panda believes that this will be a breakthrough film for him as though it's a commercial film, it has already attracted International sales agents, apart from an Indian distributor. And he is producing it by himself to make it a pure independent film.
The filmmaker seems to have up his sleeve some surprises for the Odia film industry too. "Wait till mid-November," he says with a mysterious smile on his face when asked for details.
Meanwhile, the buzz is that thanks to his busy schedule till mid-2014, Panda recently rejected the offer from producer Solila Parida to direct a Hollywood film titled “The Women from Georgia" which is being shot in Bikaner, Rajasthan right now.
There are also rumours that he is approaching Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan for another, much bigger film. “I am still working on the script so I can't talk about the cast now. Let's first work on this, and I will have bigger news later,” he says, revealing not more than the fact that it will be a Dutch-Australian-Indian co-production.
An unknown facet of Panda is that he started his career with Bond cinema, having worked for three years with Barbara Brocholli, the producer of all James Bond films. We can hope that one day our Odia man would do a James Bond film.
It's surprising that even while being so busy with all these big films, his heart never leaves Odisha. Quite naturally the obvious question to ask him is whether he would ever be interested in politics of the state. But is quite clear on this, “For me, I am quite far from politics.”
Panda is currently on his way to the Cinekid Film Festival, the world's largest children's film festival held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The purpose: to take forward his movement for quality Indian children's cinema. At Cinekid, he is meeting a large number of funders, co-producers, distributors and sales agents to discuss his forthcoming venture, a children's film in Assamese that he will produce and will be directed by National Award-winning film critic Utpal Borpujari.