Finally, Gran Plan hits the big screen

Back in 2011, director of the drama centre Playacting Productions Sangeeta Nambiar started writing a story that turned out to be bigger than expected.

It was about a troubled young boy and an old woman who overcame the boundaries of age, language and culture and reached out to each other to form a lasting friendship.

"Loneliness and old age are two things that I find very interesting. How do you explain them to people? They are what I wanted to try and explore through my film," said Ms Sangeeta.

The movie, A Gran Plan, which was shot entirely in Singapore, went on to tour several international film festivals and won the Best Actress award at the Harlem International Film Festival 2012, the River Rock award for Best Child Actor at the Silent River film festival in Irvine, California, and the Best NRI Film award at the first Delhi International Film Festival.

It also won Ms Sangeeta the Mira Nair award for rising female film-maker in 2012. She said: "It started off as a small dream of making this a short movie. But once I finished writing the story, I felt I could do more than a short film with it. And I thought why not feature Bollywood actress Farida Jalal in this?"

Also starring are young local talents Oliver Kennett and Tania Mukherjee, both 12, and Neil Shaabi, 13. All three were chosen from the acting workshops conducted by Playacting Productions, where they attended the workshops for six months prior to shooting the film.

"The shooting itself took 30 days, and the whole process of editing and making it into the final product took six months," she said.

All was not easy for Ms Sangeeta who, despite having directed over 10 plays and five short films, was directing a full-length film for the first time.

"I had a small budget to make this film and working with that was a great challenge. There were days when the filming was entirely done in my house. There was an incident when my sound guy just vanished with three days worth of sound recordings.

"My chief assistant director and editor Anshul Tiwari and I even waited outside his house for hours hoping to get the sound clippings from him to no avail. So I had to dub all over, and by then Farida Jalal had gone back to India, so I had to get her to dub it there and send it over to me," explained Ms Sangeeta.

Another hurdle that she faced was getting cinema operators to screen her movie commercially.

Now, finally, two years after making the film, Ms Sangeeta has managed to get Golden Village (GV) to screen her 75-minute movie from April 25 to 27. There will be five screenings over the three days, and tickets, sold at $15, are available at the box office as well as the GV website.

"It was difficult to get here, and to other film-makers this may not be much, but when I look at it now, it was worth all the hard work put in. Everyone, even the young actors, put in a lot of effort to bring this movie to where it is now, and it's all their efforts that's paying off now, not just mine."

Get a copy of tabla! for more stories.