To get actors, composers, Onir eyes social media

Mumbai: Onir, known to bring taboo subjects like homosexuality into the mainstream, says his next film "Shab" will tell the love story of a gigolo and a prostitute. Also, he is planning to take the use of social networking sites in filmmaking to the next level.

"I will be directing `Shab`, which means night. It is set in Delhi. Right now finalising the draft of the script. In one line, it is a love story between a gigolo and a prostitute," Onir, 42, told IANS on the sidelines of the 13th Mumbai Film Festival.

"I will start shooting the film after wrapping up my production venture `Chauranga`. We will start shooting `Chauranga` in January and expect to complete it by mid-February."

The director had raised funds for his film "I AM" through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

"I will start again the process of sourcing people, talking to financiers, and definitely a part of it will be crowd-funded because whoever has been part of `I AM` wanted to come back as part of our future project," he said.

After "I AM", he will continue with crowd-funding with "Chauranga", which will be a Rs.3 crore movie.

"We started crowd-sourcing for `Chauranga` by launching a contest for publicity design on social networking sites and got 60 designs from Spain, Bangladesh, the UK and small towns in India and found it exciting."

Onir was speaking at the Open Forum of the Mumbai Film Fest on "Queering India: Gay And Lesbian Portrayals In New India Cinema".

"Filmmaking is mostly centred on Mumbai, but to involve people from various parts of the country and other places through the social media to make it accessible is interesting."

Soon Onir will launch a hunt for composers for the film on social networking sites.

"We are shooting in Jharkhand for sure because the film belongs to that place. Seventy percent of the cast will be new week we will start the process on the social network - we will put the character profile and if people feel they fit the character they can send their photos. We will then do auditioning and we will also be doing auditioning in Jamshedpur and Ranchi as I need that flavour."

And then, there will be "Shab".

"I will start `Shab` hopefully around March. A lot of the cast in the film will be new," he said.

Onir`s "My Brother Nikhil" came in 2005 and the filmmaker says in the last six years he has grown as a filmmaker. As people expect something different from him, it is easier for him to make "Shab" now, he said.

"Actually this was the first script I wrote, but it didn`t get made. When I wrote the film, it was too bold and at the same time `Shab` is a bigger film. It`s Rs.5 crore film, while we made `My Brother Nikhil` at Rs.1.5 crore. I have also grown as a filmmaker. People expect a certain kind of film from us. So it`s easier for me to make this film now.

" `Shab` is very close to me and I am very happy with the final shape it has taken."

Onir, who is expanding his horizons by delving into other subjects, is producing "Chauranga", which is Bikas Ranjan Mishra`s directorial debut. It is based on a true life story that took place in Bihar. In 2008, a Dalit boy was thrown under a running train because he wrote a love letter to an upper caste girl.

"When I read the script, I strongly felt that this film really needs to be made. As a filmmaker I feel more comfortable with the urban settings but at the same time I don`t look at it as my strength. So I thought if I could be part of this film, I knew I would probably never be able to direct it with the kind of vision that Bikas would have. He is from Jharkhand, he knows the area and the people. So we (Onir and Sanjay Suri) decided that we will produce the film," said Onir.


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