Walkaway is a light-comedy drama, revolving around four young professionals; single, dating, engaged and married, settled in New York City. It revels in the subtleties of the Indian mega-institution of marriage, and how it affects the four couples who struggle to balance engrained values with modern environs in the fast-paced melting-pot that is New York. Well shot, tight editing with beautiful songs, it is a good watch for any audience, especially the young Indian in the US who will empathize with it.
We caught up with the director of the movie Walkaway, Shailja Gupta in a downtown bar in Manhattan and got down to discussing why she made this movie.
NY MAG calls Walkaway more earnest & insightful than Sex And The City– so we asked her if it started with this in mind.
I didn’t really think about that at all. I just wanted to make the movie but after a few private screenings people started calling it Sex And The City for Indian men when I got down to write the script, the intention was to write about the kind of life my friends have – guys from top Business Schools in India and making fat salaries in New York. However, I am sure the woman’s point of view on relationships has come through. I see these people struggling between the New York & Nagpur mentality. And, sometimes it’s a large gap!
What has been the reaction to the movie so far?
It’s been pretty good so far! We have had some great reviews- we have been covered by New York Times, and Village Voice etc. The premiere show was a complete success and it was sold out! So, I am excited and hoping that the audience likes it when we release on the 29th.
How did you get such a big project off the ground?
The credit for this goes to my executive producer Kurush Mistry. He got all his friends to invest initially. Then my business partner in TechShastra came on board and before I knew it, I had enough to start the project. However, before I knew it, the project snowballed into a much larger project that I had envisaged.
Before I knew it, the project snowballed into a much larger project
How did you so much of Bollywood support. Tell us about it?
I get overwhelmed every time I talk about it. Special thanks to Mr. Shah Rukh Khan. I had worked with him ten years ago and we kept in touch. Last year we met when he was in New York and he saw twenty minutes of the film and immediately offered to help me out. He asked me to come to India and then opened the doors to his production facility (Red Chillies Entertainment & VFX) I completed the film with the help of his team. He also generously helped me financially. Oscar winner Resul Pookuty helped me with the sound design and Vishal & Shekhar, Ram Sampath & Sagar Desai composed five songs. Shree Venkatesh Films (producers of films like Chokher Bali, Raincoat) stepped in and helped me release the film here.
Shah Rukh generously helped me financially
You have music in different languages which have become very popular. How did you decide on that?
Since my characters are from different parts of India and I wanted to use music to showcase the different flavours of the characters. There are 9 songs in the soundtrack; they are in Hindi, English, Marwari, Tamil and French. Fortunately it adds a lot of character to my movie and gives authenticity to my characters. I have a fast road trip number, a jazz piece, a ghazal, romantic songs as well as an authentic Indian wedding dance number.
One of the key takes from the movie is that all 8 characters are fleshed out and the women are not short changed- how did you develop these characters.
They are all based loosely on all my friends. So, when someone sees this movie, they will appreciate the similarities, and empathize, and laugh with them because they are real and deal with issues that my audience has gone through at some point in their life.
Why is the movie in English?
The choice of language was just natural. Since it’s a story about Indians who live in New York, in our daily lives we all speak mostly English with a bit of our mother tongue thrown in between. I have tried to emulate the realistic way of communication in the movie. In fact the characters speak English, Hindi, Tamil and a little bit of friend.
I have 2 stories penned down. One is a very dark film and the other is a romantic comedy which can either be made here as another Independent film or as a Bollywood film. But right now I am not thinking about it till Walkaway release. I have been working non stop for 2 years now so I will take a short holiday before I jump into my next project
I have got 2 scripts post Walkaway, one being very dark and the other a romantic comedy
Opens on Friday in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Washington and Raleigh, N.C.
Directed by Shailja Gupta; written by Ms. Gupta and Ruchika Lalwani; director of photography, Trisha Solyn; edited by Sanjay Sharma and Ms. Gupta; music by Sagar Desai; production design by Ana Monroe; costumes by Amy Kramer; produced by Ms. Gupta, Shrikant Mohta, Mahendra Soni, Varun Shah, Ruchika Lalwani and Shawn Rice; released by IABA Films.
In English, French, Tamil and Hindi, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. This film is not rated.
With: Manu Narayan (Darius), Samrat Chakrabarti (Shree), Manish Dayal (Vinay), Sanjiv Jhaveri (Soham), Deepti Gupta (Nidhi), Carrie Anne James (Genevieve), Pallavi Sharda (Sia) and Ami Sheth (Anu).