The film is produced by ZEE Studios (“Thalaivi,” “Khaali Peeli”) and Ghai’s Mukta Arts, the company behind iconic films “Karz” (1980), “Hero” (1983), “Karma” (1986), “Ram Lakhan” (1989), “Saudagar” (1991), “Khalnayak” (1993), “Pardes” (1997) and “Taal” (1999), all directed and produced by Ghai.
In his pomp, Ghai directed a virtual who’s who of Bollywood including Dilip Kumar, Raaj Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Jackie Shroff, Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit Nene and Nutan.
In “36 Farmhouse” Ghai tackles a topical tale born out of the several COVID-19 induced lockdowns India has endured over the past 18 months. It follows a father-son pair of migrant workers who on the way back to their native village during the pandemic shutdown find jobs at a lavish farmhouse owned by a rich lady. Their thoughts turn to petty theft. However they find themselves in a murder mystery scenario and realize that the lady’s offspring have designs on the farmhouse.
“The theme is that some steal for need and some steal for greed,” Ghai told Variety.
Ghai says that the audience today is looking for comedy and entertainment and that they are not looking for issues or murders, adding that they see criminals on television every day. “With this intention we created ’36 Farmhouse’ as a family entertainment, which has everything – murder mystery, comedy and family drama.”
Ghai has written the story, composed the music and serves as creative producer. Ram Ramesh Sharma (“Kaafiron Ki Namaaz”), a graduate of Ghai’s Mumbai-based Whistling Woods International film school, is the director. “I wanted a young director and to see how he visualizes my script and the story and wanted another perspective,” said Ghai. “I did not want to direct because I direct movies for the cinema hall. Because I’m a director of visuals, big sound, actors, larger than life cinema.” Ghai says that as an industry senior there is no longer pressure on him to churn out blockbusters. “Today it is my pleasure, my happiness, not a pressure,” said Ghai.
The filmmaker is full of praise for the film’s performers, describing the seven principal actors as the “seven colors.” The cast includes Amol Parashar (“Sardar Udham”), Sanjay Mishra (“Masaan”), Flora Saini (“Inside Edge”), Barkha Singh (“Silence: Can You Hear It”), Vijay Raaz (“Gully Boy”) and Ashwini Kalsekar (“Laxmii”).
Mukta Arts also operates cinema chain Mukta A2 Cinemas across 16 Indian cities and in Bahrain. “I am always in search of expanding the business, whether it is exhibition, production or education,” said Ghai adding that his outlook is always “futurist.”
“36 Farmhouse” streams on ZEE5 Global from Jan. 21.