Note- This is more of personal post rather than a straightforward review of the film owing to a personal connect to the film and the filmmaker
Shuttlecock Boys, the indie film made by Hemant Gaba has finally hit the theatres this Friday (3rd Aug), around 4 years after it got made. I still remember my early interactions with Hemant Gaba some 3 years ago when the film was already about a year old. I used to be one of the active authors on PFC those days and hence more than enthusiastic about indie films and indie filmmakers. There was Hemant shuttling between Delhi and Mumbai and here I was in Chennai (at that time) stuck to a job that I didn’t enjoy and relishing rather my freedom of writing/blogging and spending time with people in the industry in Chennai & Mumbai whenever I could.
Initially my conversations with Hemant would always revolve around his future plans for Shuttlecock Boys and what he intended to do with the film. Time and again he would face a roadblock but then every time we spoke over phone or chatted online he would always sound cheerful and optimistic in his own ways. I still remember the instance when he was really in trouble as Prasad Labs, who were doing the post production work had done some damage to the film and he really was in a state of panic. And to add insult to the injury Prasad Labs also wanted to be paid additionally to get the negative restored and patched up. I did manage to dig out the contact of the person heading Prasad Labs and gave it to Hemant and after that it continued to be quite a drama before Hemant managed to get them to restore his film in the right way. Of course this wasn’t the end of the story in any way.
Sometime later after I began heading the editorial team at PFC I started really pushing him to write about the film. Every time I would ask him to do that he would always say “lo ji abhi agle do din mein bhej deta hoon” but that never happened for a long time. Finally after someone else took the trouble to actually write about his film I had no choice apart from literally forcing him to write about the film and which he certainly did. That was also the time when we would keep tossing ideas on how he can try to release the film theatrically and also go the festival route. There were certainly occasions when despair would creep into him a little bit but he would still manage to just about manage to remain cheerful at the end.
And yes there was always an earnestness in his approach and he would also keep asking me to inform him whenever I was in Mumbai so that he could show me his film. Once I remember specifically asking him about the budget of the film and this is what he said “See I have been told by a lot of people in the industry that I shouldn’t openly talk about the budget since its negative for the film especially in case of indie films like mine. But you see the film first and then I’ll be honest about it”. Sometime later I did take the plunge and shifted to Mumbai and that was when I finally managed to meet Hemant and also see his film. In fact the whole experience of watching Shuttlecock Boys (2 years ago) was also quite interesting when I look back now. It was on Hemant’s laptop at his Mumbai flat which he was sharing with fellow strugglers and yet he remained a good host, cheerful as ever, ensuring that I enjoy my beer while watching the movie . And later on he also told me the actual budget of the film which did make me all the more surprised.
Even after that I still remember that it was not a smooth journey after that as getting the film fixed by Prasad Labs and then doing the festival round itself was taking its toll in a way. There were some positive developments like the documentary produced by Hemant and his partner Panjaj Johar, Still Standing which was directed by Pankaj Johar went on to make a name for itself in the festival circuit. There were also the odd corporate films and films for NGO’s but then at one point of time Hemant had had enough of the shuttle between Mumbai and Delhi and completely relocated back to Delhi.
And so it was back to the old days for us in terms of communication with the difference being in the fact that I was in Mumbai now and he was in Delhi. We would talk once in a while, always trying to update each other about what we were doing. And not many people (including people @ MAM) know that Hemant has been one of the well wishers and supporters of MAM right from the start. I have always cherished our conversations regarding the online space as well be it during the final days of PFC or during the start of MAM. Once in a while we would still talk about the prospect of theatrical release of Shuttlecock Boys and the conversation would always end with a question mark of sorts.
But then finally with PVR Director’s Rare coming into the foray things suddenly brightened up for indie filmmakers and finally Hemant also managed to get the theatrical release of Shuttlecock Boys confirmed. But even with PVR showing interest in the film he did not sit quietly. He took the advice of friends and well wishers who had seen the film and worked on making it a lot more viewer friendly. The film underwent further editing in places like Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi and some more elements of post-production got done at Mumbai before getting the final output to satisfactory response of people concerned like Hemant and Pankaj Johar (the co-producer).
And thus when I revisited the film again during the press preview, it made me feel very excited. Here is someone known to you and who has been struggling to bring his film out for quite some time and finally he’s managed it. The film itself is quite inspirational in many ways and talks about 4 friends who may not have the best of jobs or qualifications but have a strong bond among themselves and a dream, a dream of doing something on their own. A theme like this is more or less universal as a lot of us can relate to what the 4 protagonists go through in the film.
I might have been fortunate enough to have a reasonably good academic background and a fairly decent career but then the urge to follow my heart and focus on my passion has only grown with time. That way even I find it totally relevant to connect to Gaurav, Manav, Pankaj and Loveleen, the 4 main characters of the film. While the film may lack grand production values and some big names in the star cast it does certainly have a lot of natural charm going its way. The film also has some soothing music by Avinash Baghel and it’s good to note that among the crew people like the editor James Valiakulathil and the DOP Shanti Bhushan Roy have gone to get noticed and work on other good projects as well, something that team Shuttlecock Boys can feel happy about.
Co-incidentally even now while chatting with Hemant and mentioning the crux of the post to him this is what he had to say “sab ki journey hoti hai .. toh koi badi baat nahi” that’s Hemant for you my friends. On behalf of myself and MAM I certainly do wish Hemant and Shuttlecock Boys all the very best. And I also sincerely hope that the film goes on to gain some patronage from our readers as well.
Note- MAM is proud to be associated as Online Media Partner with Shuttlecock Boys.