'Ever since I travelled to Mumbai I thought of bringing issue-based subjects on the big screen that can change the lives of people.'
Producer-Director Shree Narayan Singh remains modest even after directing Akshay Kumar in the hit, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, and Shahid Kapoor in Batti Gul Meter Chalu.
"I used to live on rent then, and I still do," he tells Rediff.com contributor Rajul Hegde. "My contemporaries have two-three bungalows, but I still live in a rented house near the slums!"
"But," he adds, "I have earned the respect of the people I have worked with."
Batti Gul Meter Chalu released on September 21 and is set in a small town in Uttarkhand.
"Batti is about electricity theft, which is a huge problem in small towns. People in metro cities haven't faced these issues. The backdrop (in my stories) will always be simple and relatable as I keep my storytelling real," says Shree Narayan.
"Ever since I travelled to Mumbai I thought of bringing issue-based subjects on the big screen that can change the lives of people," he adds. "I enjoy making such films. If I feel I can bring about a change with such topics, my life will be complete."
"I have been very lucky to have worked with a big star like Akshay. He never made me feel like I was working with a star. I worked as an associate director and editor on Special 26 and Baby, but you have a different perception then. The comfort level that I had with Akshay sir during Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is something I can never forget. He is a fun-loving person and calls me 'beta'," he says.
"With Shahid, I used to hug him at least 15 times a day after every shot. Both actors are professionals and punctual. Akshay sir has never worked for more than eight hours a day on a film, but he worked for 12 hours in my film. The same goes for Shahid also. Shraddha is also a good and hard working actress," he says.
Singh will work with Shahid once again on his next film. "It is not based on any social issue; it's in a hard-hitting space. No one has seen Shahid in that space before."
The director has also joined hands with Producer Ekta Kapoor for a biopic on the Father of the White Revolution, Verghese Kurien, the founder of Amul.
"It is a period film, it will start in 1947. I want to be fully prepared for this film, right from the script to the locations, to the VFX. Even though the material is in hand, the challenge lies in taking it to the big screen in a way that audience will love and feel inspired."
Singh will also make a small town love story with Producer Sajid Nadiadwala, and the scripting process is on.
"It will have a social message. We have an idea but we are yet to crack it," he says.