By ANJALI NAURIYAL
DEHRADUN, 8 Aug: “I will shoot all my films in Uttarakhand,” says lawyer turned producer, Bhanwar Singh Pundir whose first film titled ‘Mudda 370 J&K’ came at an opportune time in the history of the country.
Supreme Court Lawyer Bhanwar Singh Pundir turned producer for the Rakesh Sawant directed film Mudda 370 J&K, as he regarded the theme historically and politically of great relevance. It so happened that even as the film neared completion the contentious article was actually abrogated by the current dispensation and the film gained in relevance. Pundir is now back in Uttarakhand, shooting two films back to back. In an exclusive interview with GARHWAL POST he talks about issues that make his new journey a gratifying experience.
From a practicing Supreme Court Lawyer to a producer of films, how did the transition come about?
I have a legal background. I have been in the legal profession for the past 30 years. Both my daughters are law graduates. The elder one, Captain Anamika Pundir is serving in the Indian Army as JAG officer. She secured 1st rank in all India exam. My second daughter Aanchal Pundir is presently preparing for competitive exams. So I have my daughters behind me to take good care of my legacy, that dates back to my great grand father Ratan Singh, who was also a magistrate during the British regime.
Rakesh Sawant is an old friend of mine, and one fine day he was in Delhi and came to me with this content based script. I took just 10 minutes in deciding to go on floor. Being a lawyer I knew the significance of this controversial theme to current times. I felt it was a subject which every Indian should be familiar with, and the film is the most powerful medium to spread this valuable information. And this is how I got into films.
When you started shooting this film in 2019 did you at any point think that this Article would be abrogated?
Not in the least! While we began shooting parliamentary elections were close at hand, and BJP made it an integral part of its agenda to abrogate Article 370. During the shoot some of our cast and crew even flew back to cast their votes. No one had the slighted idea what would follow. By the time the film was completed, Article 370 was abrogated and our film became something of a mission. We fondly believe that it was our film that raised an alarm and helped pave the way for this historical decision.
You played a role of police inspector in your last and first film and are also playing a police inspector in your current film ‘Vishh… The Poison’ and you suited the role to the T. How easy was it to face the camera for the first time?
I had never even in my dreams thought of acting in films. But films being a glamorous medium appeals to majority of the people, and we all want to give it a try atleast once. I asked my director to cast me and he readily agreed. When we got down to actual shooting I realised I could act easily as already being a lawyer involved speaking skills. As lawyers we are required to act and be melodramatic on a daily basis. Now I have decided to act in all my films. I am getting proposals from outside which I may consider.
How did you zero in on Uttarakhand as ideal destination for your films?
I am a nature lover. The natural splendor of Uttarakhand drew me in. Many of my relatives live here. I have been visiting this place since childhood. So Uttarakhand is like a second home to me. I consider myself as half Uttarakhandi, though I was born and brought up in Saharanpur and completed my graduation and law from Meerut. My experience of shooting our first film in Uttarakhand turned out to be a pleasant one, and now I have decided that I will shoot all my films in Uttarakhand. We get proactive support of the government and the administration. The CM Trivendra Singh Rawat has always been supportive and helpful and even during Corona crisis gave the muhurat shot of my film Vishh and hopefully will do so next time over too. The love and affection given to my team by Uttarakhand has been immense. This has compelled me to make Uttarakhand our permanent filming destination. The state has everything for which film units go to the best of foreign locations. Infact Uttarakhand is much more gorgeous than many foreign locations. It is a land blessed by the presence of Devtas. Also shooting here is cost-effective. The people of the state too are most cooperative.
Currently we are shooting two films back to back. Vishh is nearing completion and the next film will roll out in a couple of days. Hopefully the CM will once again give the muhurat shot.
What would be some of your observations that could benefit other filmmakers and provide guidance to the administration?
The locations are good. Gradually all facilities required for shoots should be put in place. If all facilities are made available here no one will even think of going abroad. The security cover to safeguard film units from unscrupulous elements should be tightened. The state stands to gain in terms of tourism inflow. Local artistes get a chance. Hotel, transport and travel industry get a big boost.