'Bheja Fry' - small fry, big bucks

Jun 2, 2007 Arpana

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Debutant director Sagar Bellary's small budget satirical comedy "Bheja Fry" is the best example of how a small fry can transform itself into a big catch at box-office.

The independent film, shot at a shoestring budget of Rs.6 million, was released April 13 and completed 50 days of screening Saturday, earning about Rs.120 million, more than 15 times the cost.

"I am thankful to all the women in India. They have saved my life. They liked my film and recommended their friends and family to watch it. Basically, it's word of mouth which has made it a successful film," Sagar Bellary told IANS on telephone from Mumbai.

Agrees Saurabh Varma, vice president of programming and distribution Inox Leisure Ltd.

He said: "The film was a surprise hit. It got overwhelming response in the country's north, west and east. We are still running the film." In New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, PVR is still running one show of the film.

The film revolves around Rajat Kapoor, a suave and snobbish businessman and a rotund, funny looking income tax officer, played by Vinay Pathak who has a passion for singing.

"Since I was a student I wanted to make a film about an idiot who sings," said the director.

"The character of Bharat Bhushan played by Vinay has really taken off. You can say that it is popular on the same lines as Munnabhai and Circuit," said Varma.

When Bellary was making the film he wasn't sure that it was going to work at the ticket window, he said.

"When I started shooting, I was not confident. But after seeing the final print, I told my producers that it would make around 100 million rupees. At that time then we all laughed at my predictions because it sounded unachievable. But my prediction has come true."

The film, after a modest opening, has been a hot favourite with audiences. What apparently worked in favour of "Bheja Fry" was the right timing and rich content.

"The film worked mainly because people kept laughing from the beginning till the end. There is no vulgarity in the film. It is script purely based on sensible comedy. Also, it was a poignant period to enjoy a comedy. India had lost the cricket World Cup then."

The director is candid about the fact that the film is inspired by French movie "A Dinner Game".

"I was inspired by 'A Dinner Game', but it was not a copy of the film. I have put Indian perspective to it. The main character Bharat Bhushan is 100 percent Indian. Tell me, who is going to watch a French film if it is released here?"

Post the success of "Bheja Fry", it is raining offers for the young director.

Sahara One Motion Pictures (SOMP) has roped him in to direct three films for the banner.

The script of the first film, titled "Kaccha Limboo", is in its final stages and the project will be going on floor by the end of this quarter.

The plots for other two projects have also been finalised by SOMP and scripting of the films will start soon.

"After 'Bheja Fry', I want to provide a diverse platter to the audience and I am glad that Sahara One Motion Pictures has provided me that platform and a wider canvas.

"My first film with Sahara is another funny film called 'Kaccha Limboo', a story of a fat, goofy 13-year-old boy who is caught amidst conflicting worlds of peer-pressure, puppy love, familial frustrations and high-school dilemmas.

"Unable to cope he follows his dream world of rebellion, runs away from everything in an attempt to carve out a special identity for himself. The film is a super adventure, a complete family entertainer."

Usually the first time directors make a small budget film and if it works they go for mega budget and big star. For instance, Bellary is spending around Rs.50-60 million on "Kaccha Limboo".

"Let me tell why this happens. In this industry nobody gives you opportunity, so you have to do with what you have. The actual cost of 'Bheja Fry" was 40-50 million rupees but I didn't pay any money to the actors. I just paid them the conveyance," said the director who wants to take up untouched genres.

"My aim is to make different types of films. I want to take genres, which remains untouched. I have seen people making comedy but nobody makes sensible comedy."

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