July 26, 2002 
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Viveck Vaswani
ESIF off to Sundance
Producer Viveck Vaswani has more aces up his sleeve with Dil Vil Pyar Vyar

Vivek Fernandes

Viveck Vaswani is ecstatic. He is yet to get over the thrill of meeting celebrated American playwright David Mamet (who also wrote Heist, The Untouchables among other films) and actor Ben Kingsley at the Jerusalem film festival where his first English production Everybody Says I'm Fine opened to a standing ovation.

ESIF, actor Rahul Bose's directorial debut, produced under Vaswani's banner Insight Productions with a 'Scissorhands-cum-telepathic-guardian-angel' as its main protagonist, was a risky proposition. Even Bose admits to that.

But the 'nothing-ventured-nothing-gained Vivekanand Vaswani' mantra saw the film through to completion and led it to acclaim at film fests in Vancouver, Toronto, London, Milan and Philadelphia.

"I just received a letter from Mr Robert Redford who has invited ESIF to this year's Sundance Film Festival," adds Vaswani, unable to control his glee.

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Many would remember him from his roles in the sitcoms of the 1990s --- Zabhan Sambhal Ke, Kabhi Yeh Kabhi Woh or Daal Mein Kaala. But Vaswani, the producer, is a far cry from the caricatures he has been known to portray. "Three films in the span of three months is killing. After ESIF, there is Dil Vil Pyar Vyar and then in early September there is the Raveena Tandon starrer Satta directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. As producer you have to have to oversee everything between dashing off to Jerusalem and studio sessions for the background score."

He continues, "Rahul [Bose] came to us with a great script and for a first-timer he has done a great job. Of course, every film has its flaws and I can't say that ESIF is without blemish. But it all boils down to what you can take away with you from the film and here is where the film scored highly."

Vaswani, who began his career on stage with Pearl Padamsee moved on to television and film but surprised the industry when he decided to turn producer with Gawahi, a film that starred Zeenat Aman. "I realised when I was young that only two people ran the show in Bollywood -- the producer who controls the project and the theatre owner who sold the tickets to the junta. Everyone else was inconsequential -- the actors, directors, editors. That's what prompted me to make the decision. Waiting around in make-up did not appeal to me much but I do look forward to doing theatre once again."

Rahul Bose The producer has to his credit films such as Shah Rukh Khan's early hit Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Pathar Ke Phool and Sar Ankhon Par.

"Sar Ankhon Par was my tribute to the legendary Raj Kapoor. And the hero of Dil Vil Pyar Vyar is a music director who died eight years ago. R D Burman. Dil Vil Pyar Vyar is a return to the musical genre... Moulin Rouge revisited, if you like with 14 songs, all Pancham's classics re-recorded with four songs back to back for its climax."

"For Dil Vil Pyar Vyar we shot with 22 stars from R Madhavan, Namrata Shirodkar and Jimmy Shergill to Hrishita Bhatt, Sonali Kulkarni and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, on eight locations with 12 sets and 6.1 Ex Sound and we haven't spent more than Rs 80 million including interest. I find it very hard to believe that producers can claim to spend Rs 500 million on one film," he says.

He is also tying things up for his next project based on the life of Fearless Nadia to be directed by Riyad Vinci Wadia. "This film will complete my tribute trilogy to Indian cinema which began with Sar Aankon Par dedicated to Raj Kapoor and Dil Vil Pyar Vyar in memory of R D Burman," he says.

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