We had, by now reached the stage where it was time to start looking for the cast and crew and also put together the finance required to fuel the efforts. There are certain moments in life when we may find ourselves stuck in the middle of a heap of trouble and then all of a sudden help arrives from people least expected. They storm in like celestial beings and dig us out of our burdens. We were fortunate to find such divine interventions through many people.
Sheela and Natali were my business acquaintances from abroad whom I introduced to Anil during an event that we attended in Kerala organised by Aeries which was sponsored by them. Anil, during his interactions with them happened to discuss our project with them and they were intrigued and interested to be a part of the project. They were looking for someone to shoot a few professional clippings for their product and they proposed that their product be included in the film for which they were ready to do some part funding. We, therefore, had our seed funding now with an ‘in-film partner’ to set the ball rolling.
Help also poured in from a few of our friends who were more than willing to be a part of our endeavour and found the faith to invest in our dream. A major part of the finance also came in again from Anil who sold off some of his property. We, thus, were able to figure out and meet the financial requirement to see the project through. Things fell in place and I could see the light from where funds were going to come, just the way Dr Alex had said that it would be. Looking back, it all seems like a divine intervention which worked out like they were always meant to be.
Just around the same time the International Film Festival of India was on at Goa and Anil and I attended it. Film festivals are like the Hogwarts of the film world. You get to interact with a large gathering of people who are into the same trade craft as you and you get to learn, explore and hone your skills with the craft, as also share each other’s experiences and test your knowledge and concepts to see if you are on the right lines.
One such interaction I had was with Juhi, from New Zealand. She posed me with a very pertinent question, the one that I had, myself contemplated and tried to find reason for quite a while after I was initiated into “Project Maiya” due to the insistence of Dr Alex and of course, the natural instincts of creativity and sentimental involvement that spurted in me as I moved along the process. She asked me what was it that I perceived as my role as a ‘Producer’? A ‘Director’ is the leader of the project who steers the efforts of the entire team towards the completion of the film in the desired way. But the role of a Producer, was something that which is generally misunderstood by most people and construed to be limited to financing the film. The role of a Producer, I felt, was that of a “Mother”, or to qualify it even further, that of a “Surrogate Mother”, who has to look into all aspects involving the healthy growth of the fetus and also undergo the pain of labour only to handover the child and watch him or her grow. The role was one of ‘Unlimited Responsibility’, where one is involved in all aspects concerning the film. It ranged from conceptualisation, designing of the project, casting, coordination with multiple agencies and people so as to help materialise the concept, prepare the stage and make available the required resources so that the Director can work his magic and mould or create the conceived idea. Making the money available is just one part of the numerous other responsibilities. This reply of mine was the most fulfilling one that Juhi had heard, as per her own submission, since it was a question that she had prodded with many others in India whom she had met. Most of all it gave me a satisfaction that I was treading generally along the right lines and I was reassured of my mission and purpose with the project at hand and ‘Cinema’ as a whole.