Producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment will launch domestic and international distribution wings beginning with Busan opener “Zubaan” which the company co-produced with director Mozez Singh’s Metamozez Entertainment. Sikhya will follow up with releases for Cannes selections “Peddlers” and “Monsoon Shootout” and festival favorite “Haraamkhor.” In India, Sikhya and Metamozez are working closely with veteran distributor Anil Thadani to release “Zubaan” at the end of the month.
For Asia, Monga expects the Busan market to be beneficial for “Zubaan.” “For the last year I’ve been thinking about southeast Asia and how we are all one continent,” says Monga. “We personally consume Korean films, but they don’t really come to India, nor the cinema of Japan. The market in China is really growing. So there has been an ambition as a producer to put out content that will speak to an Asia market. I feel that ‘Zubaan’ gives me an opportunity to be at Busan and hopefully be able to penetrate Indian independent cinema into the southeast Asian market.”
For Singh, opening Busan is the culmination of a process that took nine years. He took seven years to develop the script, with co-writers Sumit Roy and Thani coming on board for the last three. Meanwhile, he served as co-producer on “Peddlers” and “Haraamkhor” and also produced and directed several episodes of television chat show “On the Couch With Koel.”
“I’ve always been interested in the idea of faith, what it means to me, what it means to people, how it can become an anchor and save you in moments of crisis,” says Singh about “Zubaan.” “What really interests me is people who are faithless, people who don’t believe in anything except their own selves and sometimes that manifests into egos. I wanted to use music as a metaphor for faith because I felt that just telling a story about faith might become esoteric and a bit too philosophical.”
“Zubaan” is a rites of passage tale about a young man from small town Punjab who travels to the big city, Delhi, where he eventually rediscovers his faith and must now choose between honesty and success. “The film is in a unique spot — it’s a musical that speaks to the Punjabi diaspora audiences and because it is about faith we feel that it also speaks to non-diaspora, and with the selection at Busan it has increased our faith that it can speak to non-diaspora also,” says Monga. Singh adds, “I think what has transcended is the fact that the film has the ability to touch people in a way which can go way beyond just the diaspora. We hope that people feel moved by it, ultimately that’s what you make a movie for.”
Next up for Singh is what he describes as a “thriller-love story-musical film on global terror,” with Sikhya. Apart from this, Monga and her production partner at Sikhya, Shaan Vyas, are developing a science fiction film to be directed by first timer Arati Kadav.