A father-daughter relationship is a precious one. But there are so many things that are left unsaid between the two. Daughters tend to be closer to their mothers and share almost every aspect of their lives but the same cannot be said about their fathers. There are so many things they would like to tell each other but something keeps them back. One film delves into this delicate unexplored subject. We spoke to Kanika Batra the brainchild and producer of Project Papa.
1. How did you get the idea of making a film on father-daughter relationship?
A year ago, when I made up my mind to do something creative, I also realised that my dad was getting older, and I really wanted to do something with him, and spend more time with him. Around the same time, I had friends who were coping with the regret of not having said or done the things they wanted to do with their fathers, under the assumption that tomorrow would come.
I felt strongly that there was a message that was worth a movie- if there’s something you want to say to him, #TellHimNow, and also the concept of being ‘happy in the now’, being the most important takeaways.
For me, it was 3 birds with 1 stone:
1. Make my dad’s dream of acting in a movie a reality at 60 plus years.
2. Pursue something creative.
3. Share this important message with the world.
2. What was your father’s reaction when he first heard that you’re making a film with him as a lead actor?
Dad has always been an actor. He’s been actively involved in theatre all his life. He also wrote, directed, and acted in a play called Angelina that was a children’s play, during which we toured around the country and did 27 houseful shows. That was also my first acting debut at the age of 9. I told him Project Papa, would be my ‘Angelina’, for him. He thought I was joking ©. He then said he would need his own vanity van and special treatment on set. Jokes apart, I think he was very touched and very excited.
3. Your research video Call Dad Now #TellHimNow went viral within two days. What was the motivation behind such a concept of #TellHimNow?
As part of my research, I interviewed 35 different fathers and daughters, and asked them about their relationship.
What unfolded during the process was absolutely magical, and I felt it was important to share it with the world. That led to us putting together an edit with all the footage, which is how Call Dad Now-#TellHImNow happened. I was further convinced that this is a story that needs to be told, after the impact that it had. People from all over the world wrote in to us about how the video impacted them to actually pick up the phone and call their dads. That was my biggest motivation and my biggest driving factor- apart from the encouragement we received from being covered overnight by Huffington Post, Daily Mail Uk, Buzzfeed, Scoopwhoop, NDTV, Glamour, and several other media houses.
4. Do you believe in today’s fast paced world we are not able to give time to our families and especially our parents? Is the Indian family values diminishing?
I do believe that nobody has time for anything or anyone anymore. I also think technology has made life so easy, but yet so lonely, not only in India, but also across the globe. An outcome of these times is definitely a lack of quality time spent with parents and families.
5. A daughter for whom happiness is a question of future and for a father whom happiness is a question of the past? Don’t you think that we as a society have failed to live in the present and enjoy each moment as it comes?
Absolutely! And that’s what the movie explores- the importance of living in the NOW.
6. Do you believe that father-daughter relationship is the most precious relationship in the world?
I think every individual has that one person in their lives that they’re really connected to. It could be a father, a mother, a best friend- anybody. At this juncture of my life, the father-daughter relationship signifies the message of the movie most deeply for me, and I think it is one that is very often ignored, especially in India, where most father-daughter relationships begin to lose continuity after she is married/ after she is educated/ after she moves out. But there is an undying and strong bond between daughter and father even as she turns in to an adult that I want to talk about, and I want people to recognize. I am certain, this story must be told.
7. Tell us something about the ‘Project Papa’ team?
The team is fluid, and grows and changes every day, as we want to leverage all the young talent that Bangalore has. The team consists of young, dynamic individuals that believe in the concept, in the project and that this is a story that needs to be told. From diverse backgrounds with varying professional qualifications, the group gets larger every day, as someone brings along someone else to join the ride.
8. What kind of research did you all put in for the movie? Will the movie follow a particular script and storyline?
Yes, there is a script. I began working on this script early last year, and every person I shared the script with contributed further to my research. The Call Dad Now experience was further research into the father-daughter relationship. This whole year has been invested in research, writing, making music, living and breathing the movie, and getting friends and creative collaborators on board who believe in the project and the message it seeks to tell.
9. Being an English-Hindi feature film, do you wish to dub it in vernacular languages?
I want to make a film that anyone, in any corner of the globe has access to, can watch, and get involved with. We haven’t thought about dubbing in multiple languages just yet, however that’s a call we’ll take in a bit. One step at a time.
10. There is so much talk about rape with reports of fathers violating their daughters . Do you believe that ‘Project Papa’ will break all the barriers and stand true to the father-daughter relationship?
If relationships can be mended, and time well spent with the people you love, if unsaid things become said, and fathers and daughters can save themselves from regret of not truly making up for lost time, regardless of the circumstances and situations, then that will be our small way of contributing to the beauty that this relationship can stand for.
11. You recently released ‘Ek Pal’ which features Kenny Sebastian, Kenishaa Francis, Jeet Singh and yourself. What is Ek Pal all about?
This was definitely divine intervention! On one of the days when I had the intense desire to give up, I was frustrated and in the gym. The hindi words of the song just came to me, and I started recording both the lyrics, and the melody on my phone, as I was driving back from the gym. When I got home, I had to playback the recording, and even google some of the words. I’m not extremely fluent in Hindi, so I had to make sure the meaning of the lyrics made sense. And they did.
That’s how Ek Pal was then handed over to Jeet Singh, who did his magic, and the song came to life. It turned out to be such a fun and great song that we decided to involve our backers in it and make it their song too! And the lyrics echo the message of the movie so well. So my very dear friends Kenny, Kenishaa and Jeet all came together, to become a part of Ek Pal.What message are you trying to send from your movie ‘Project Papa’?
The crux of the message is – If there’s something you want to say to someone, #TellThemNow.