Gone are the days of directors fighting over big-budget projects, popular stars, larger-than-life scripts. These days, a socially relevant film that entertains while conveying a message to society is exciting enough. This is precisely what rookie director Jai Basantu Singh thinks of his debut venture Janhit Mein Jaari. “I really couldn’t have found a better project to launch my directorial journey,” says Singh.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Jai Basantu Singh’s journey in the film industry was predestined. His mother was a big movie buff and he grew up surrounded by film shoots and film screenings. “My mum was a total movie buff and watched all the movies the first day of the first show. She took me to see a lot of movies too. This is where I fell in love with cinema. I grew up in Goregaon, Mumbai. This is where most film studios are located. I still remember it, I was screwing up school and going to watch filming on sets for hours. I knew even then; this is the industry I wanted to enter. I wanted to be the man, the name called director. While many of my friends would be interested in watching actors, I was fascinated by this person calling the shots. The one that everyone would listen to and follow. I didn’t know what a director was, but I also knew at the time that that was what I wanted to be. It was my dream to watch the person in my childhood,” Singh says with certainty.
Janhit Mein Jaari didn’t just fall into Singh’s lap. There were long years of struggle before having the chance to direct a feature film. Singh recalls his journey and says, “When I entered the industry, I went straight into production and it didn’t take long for me to realize that directing was my true calling. I worked as an assistant director for 3-4 years then I joined Zee Tv as a campaign and promo director. I shot 600 to 700 fiction and reality TV campaigns and promos. This is where my journey to leadership began. My boss at the time, Puneet Goenka and Ashwini Yardi, really gave me carte blanche to shoot the way I wanted. I really owe a lot of my apprenticeship years to Zee Tv and both of them. In 2008 I left Zee and worked in independent direct campaigns and promotions for almost every major broadcaster. In 2009 the recession hit and that’s when I started directing TV shows as an editing director, where my journey of telling a 30 second to 30 minute story began . I owe a lot of my journey so far to TV shows. I couldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for all the campaigns and TV shows I’ve run.
Singh has done many popular and successful shows like Ye Un Dino Ki Baat Hai, Ek Duje Ke Vaste, Ye Pyaar Nahi To Kya Hai, Ye Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Namune, Jeannie Aur Jiju many hit shows.
I came to this project as a screenwriter, but wherever I used to tell the script, it was to the actors or the studios or the producers that they always recognized how effortlessly I narrated without even watch the script just once for two and a half hours straight. That’s when my team, the producers and the studios started telling me that I had to direct the film. Seeing the confidence people had in me gave me the strength to make this film.
He further adds, “Janhit Mein Jaari is a difficult subject. This is the story of a woman selling condoms. In a country that still considers the condom as a taboo word, I had to be very careful to treat this subject with delicacy. I was walking a thin line. I didn’t want this film to be preachy but to convey a good message at the same time. I didn’t want people to make fun of it, but I also wanted this movie to be entertaining. But things finally fell into place and I got the talented actress Nushrratt Bharuccha to work with who couldn’t be more fitting for the role. Even the rest of the cast was very supportive. I really want this movie to be family entertainment and not a TV commercial that people awkwardly wander from their homes.