Agam Anand an ex-banker, started his creative journey six years ago when he wrote his 1st novella ‘A Non Entity’ since then he never looked back. From writing a bestselling novel ‘The Colossal Illusion’ to winning reader’s choice award for it in USA, from acting, writing and producing India’s 1st dual audio short film ‘Woh Khaas’ to making it a pan India runaway success, from forming a unique production house ‘Anaisha Motion Pictures’ to give platforms to the hidden talents from small towns to directing an upcoming web series ‘Day Tuns Dark’ starring Sudhanshu Pandey and Vikas Shrivastav in Rajasthan, he has come a long way, but this is not even the beginning as stated by Agam Anand himself. He is planning to do something very big to revolutionize the filmmaking in small towns, on being asked about it he preferred to say nothing at the moment, as it is not the right time to open the cards according to him.
Now, all set to start the sequel to India’s 1st dual audio short film and it is also the first time when a short film is having a sequel which is in a miniseries format.
In the process, two and a half years ago Shambhavi Singh joined hands with Agam Anand as the leading lady in ‘Woh Khaas’, the short which is streaming on 9 OTT screens with over 1.5 Million views combined. And after playing the lead recently in a series directed by Agam Anand co-starring Sudhanshu Pandey and Vikas Shrivastav she is all set to co-produce the sequel to ‘Woh Khaas’ and also play the pivotal role in it. She shares the same vision to make a mark in the mainstream cinema despite having no support from the industry just like Anand. We had a chat with both the cinema-preneurs, read the highlights of the interview.
Q. What do you look for when hiring a Director?
Shambhavi: For all of you to know that after so much of pondering over, my thoughts came to a conclusion that with my third project i.e. ‘Woh Khaas Phir Se’ I’m going to play the role of a producer along with being an actor. It really took me a long time as being called a producer in itself is the greatest responsibility as you take care of a whole unit & obviously the main reason is the project. So, as producer this will be my very first but since I’m an actor also, I can say what qualities I will look for in my director from both the perspectives. First & foremost, a person like me who treats every work like her newborn baby just can’t risk the babysitting by hiring anyone. The director should not only have a strong grasp of technical knowledge but also have a personal and an emotional connection to the project so that I can trust him/her fully. She/he is the person who makes the creative decision and must have artistic control over the project so he should maintain a calm & respectful environment so that anyone on set can be comfortable to share their instincts. She/he should be direct & discuss his/her vision with each key crew member. She/he should guide the actors through scenes. She/he needs to carry the best attitude towards everyone so that no one is hesitant to communicate & work will be in flow without any doubts or confusions. That makes every individual on set work in their best of capabilities & mood as the sailor of the ship is their dear friend.
Q. How do you stay under budget when you are working on a project with expensive set up?
Agam: By communicating clearly with the team members and by planning it perfectly, and most importantly by selecting the right set of talents for the projects.
Q. What do you look for a script when deciding whether you would like to join a project as the Producer?
Shambhavi: Script Narration is the process which I look forward to before signing up for the project as an actor or be it be as producer which I’ll be doing soon. I don’t see it as the character they want me to sign in for but as the little girl to whom her bed stories are being narrated. If I love it or if my instincts give me a good sign I go with it. But since I’m taking over a prestigious post which is totally new to me I’m going to use the same trick. The script should possess solid, approachable characters which are relatable, detailed & real. Every turn should come to the central theme; it should aim at communicating a message that persuades the viewers to action. As Reel world is called as the ‘Mirror’ of the real world so by the end, the viewer should see a bit of him or her in the character as this emotional connection allows the message and entertainment to take hold.
Q. Given The Choice would you prefer to miss a deadline to make a project perfect or meet a deadline but compromise the Quality of production?
Shambhavi: When I’ll be producing a project & I would have to make a choice, we all know deadlines are tight & often inflexible as every member has their other commitments.
Sacrificing the quality in favour for meeting a deadline is never recommended as we all assemble as a team to provide rich quality entertainment to the audience for which everyone puts their soul in it. Artists & technicians over here never like to compromise over a tiniest of issues, they walk an extra mile to make it pitch perfect. So the primary focus should be on quality, as deadlines can be compromised but in long run the quality of the product is what matters. But I also believe that meeting deadline is all about using your time wisely, being organized & focused. It makes clear what we’re expected to deliver & when. This means that we can take control of our work, free of confusion. So if we plan it properly we will attain the quality along with being on time without using the term ‘compromise’ as nothing is impossible.
Q. What methods do you use to communicate effectively with directors, actors, crew members, and writers to discuss details of a production?
Agam: One of the things I have learned during my career as a producer is that film productions employ a diverse group of people. Each of these individuals has a different communication style. To be effective, I need to be able to quickly sense how each team member communicates and then alter my style to address their specific needs. When speaking to the entire group, I try to keep my style as neutral as possible. Working with so many people helps me to create more stories as a writer and also gives me an amazing sense of vibe, I feel it from a distance whether it is positive or negative.
Q. What do you think is the most difficult task of a producer when planning a production?
Shambhavi: We all agree over the fact that production can’t exist without a producer. A film producer’s primary responsibilities are to ensure that production runs smoothly, responsible for making sure shoot happens without any mishap, injury or stoppage whatsoever; always prepared for worst circumstances & to always have a backup plan. She/he is the one who handles the business components of filmmaking, from coordinating various aspects of production such as financing, scripting, directing etc. to finally oversea the marketing & distribution. The reality isn’t Glamorous. But for person like me I feel everyone in team should be fully content from within. They should not have complaints related to any stuff by the end of the project so that if I ever invite them again to have collaboration, they should be excited & happy to work with me again without giving it a second thought. Because I consider my team a family & they should consider the same in return & that’s quite a challenge.
Q. How do you go about establishing deadlines for a project, and what do you do to keep it on schedule?
Agam: When we start a production, the only deadline I have is the date on which we need to complete the project. It is my role to establish incremental deadlines and make sure we stay on schedule. When doing this, I strive to set reasonable deadlines that we should be able to meet. I also build in some buffer time, so if we do run over, we can make it up and still be on schedule. I hold daily production meetings with team leaders to review the schedule, identify any roadblocks, and create solutions that will help us maintain a demanding production schedule.
Q. What is the most important skill to have when producing something for television, OTT or for cinema theaters?
Agam: Not sure about the skill but it requires a large heart, never give up attitude and understanding of an authentic storytelling.
‘Woh Khaas Phir Se’ is slated to kick start in March-April 2022, meanwhile Anaisha Motion Pictures has launched an online filmmaking competition which is a rare talent hunt for new filmmakers and industry outsiders to actually get the work in ‘Woh Khaas’ sequel, the event is open for a month, you can send in your original short films and winning films will stream on OTT