Baar Baar Dheko script writer Sri Rao was born and raised in Pennsylvania, but India was always a part of his perspective, especially through the lens of Bollywood films.
After starting a career in writing for American television, Rao decided to live his dream of making a Hindi film. He wrote a script with Indian characters, set in America. It was Bollywood romance, as he saw it, as an Indian American.
Rao’s script is now a full-fledged Bollywood film called Baar Baar Dekho with Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra. Directed by Nitya Mehra, the film is a joint production of Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment and Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.
After Excel and Dharma bought Rao’s script, they brought in writer and stand-up comedian Anuvab Pal to make minor changes to it with Mehra.
Baar Baar Dekho opened in theatres on September 9.
He said his company has done production work for two Yash Raj films — New York and Badmash Company. New York, at that time, had the longest outdoor shoot in Bollywood history.
“My production company had experience shooting in Philadelphia. We shot a series for Nickelodeon, so we ended up using the same crew and locations. Philadelphia is also cheaper,” he said.
We came to New York for two weeks and did a few pick-up shots. There is a song in New York set in Times Square.
Yes, we shot that song at the Liberty State Park (in New Jersey) and other locations in the city. Badmash Company was a shorter shoot. Only one-third of the film was shot in America.
He says he has sold about a dozen pilots to the major networks. “ I just sold one — an Indian American sitcom — to Warner Brothers. By working as a scriptwriter in this rigorous system has made me a better writer. You can have a fairly stable legitimate career, making a good living, and also get known in the industry. India still is developing a system where writers can sustain themselves”.
“They don’t call it Bollywood an industry, they call it a film fraternity,” says Rao,. “It has yet to be seen if my experience is going to be a one-off. I hope this is the beginning and an opportunity for other writers as well. Bollywood has become very sophisticated in story telling”.
Finding a buyer wasn’t an easy journey: the $2.32 billion Bollywood industry is an infamously closed community. “They don’t call it an industry, they call it a film fraternity,” says Rao, whose parents are from India. “The major directors, writers and actors all were born and raised in the industry.”
He took the Hindi-language script to India in 2011, but was met with little interest. “The response that I got was that it’s a really interesting story, but it feels really American,” he says, adding that the time Bollywood was still very much shying away from anything that felt too “Hollywood.” But when his CAA agents shopped it around a couple years later, two of India’s biggest production studios, Excel Entertainment and Dharma Productions, signed on to produce it. – CINEWS