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Sanjay Gupta: I don't understand the concept of creating something for the small screen

Sanjay Gupta has been receiving overwhelming response for Mumbai Saga, which released on Amazon Prime Video.

By Shaheen | OTTPlay
Apr 28, 2021
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Mumbai Saga, which featured John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi for the first time together, released on Amazon Prime Video recently. The movie's director Sanjay Gupta, however, sounds delighted that he was able to release the film in theatres first, before bringing it to OTTs.

In an exclusive chat with OTTPlay, the director, who says he was overjoyed by the response that film received, also revealed that he would never release movies directly on OTTs. “That is just not for me,” he says.

The filmmaker talks about why the announcement about Mumbai Saga's OTT release was kept a surprise, the feedback he has been receiving and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

Was there a reason you opted to release Mumbai Saga first in theatres during the pandemic?

No, it’s how you release a film. Our point was that we were still hopeful. The cases were at an all-time low when we announced the theatrical release. We were hopeful that people would come back to the theatres. They would have too if the cases had not risen exponentially. Days after we had released was when the theatres shut down. But the plan was always to take it to the theatres.

We have an infrastructure to look at. Some big movie had to come. Our theatres, exhibitors, distributors - everybody was going through the worst time of their lives. We were hoping to restart the cycle, which is our very life-support system.

Mumbai Saga's OTT release was kept a surprise till the last moment. Any reason?

We had sold the film to Amazon Prime Video a long time ago, and then we were contractually obligated not to talk about the release date. They have their policies and we follow that.

What draws you to action films, time and again?

It’s a genre that I enjoy watching and making. I’m one of the few filmmakers left who delivers on this genre. People love it and there is an audience out there for it. I’m inundated with calls because so many people could not see the film when it released in theatres. Now everybody is watching it and loving it. That’s the response we filmmakers live for.

You have worked with John previously but you collaborated with Emraan for the first time. Tell us about your experience and will we see you both work together for any future projects?

Absolutely. I really enjoyed working with Emraan. He’s a fabulous actor who has completely upped my streak. I hardly have to direct him. He understands the script and scene once I brief him. I’m just waiting for the next script to come.

Both John and Emraan are also producers. So, do we see you collaborating with them in production?

No, I don’t think so. I’m an independent producer who works with studios. I prefer to not partner with my actors.

If Mumbai Saga were a direct-to-OTT release, what would you have done differently?

It wouldn’t be a quiet release; we would have gone all out. In the current scenario, we wouldn’t promote it like ‘our film has released, go watch it on TV.’ In fact my recent tweet also hinted at that - about how we would be excited about the film releasing on OTT under normal circumstances, but right now, we just want people to feel relief, while watching it.

Does making films for direct-to-OTT change the filmmaking dynamic?

Not for me. Personally, filmmaking for me has always been about the big screen. I do not understand the concept of creating something for a small screen. A film requires a certain canvas and we stick to that.

So you’d rather wait for theatres to open than work on a direct-to-OTT film?


Do you think you would have been able to make a film like Mumbai Saga in times of the pandemic?

No, not at all. It will be very difficult to shoot with the restrictions. If I’m doing a period film, there’s no question of people walking around with masks. I have to shoot with hundreds of people. It obviously won’t be possible till we are well over the pandemic.

What are you currently busy with apart from filmmaking?

That’s all I do, I make films. Right now I’m busy writing a couple of films. There are some other films I’m producing so I’m supervising the pre-production of those movies. We’re all working from home.

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