From Hamara Bajaj to 'The Fakir Of Venice': Meet director Anand Surapur

The Farhan Akhtar starrer will soon hit screens and is about a con job in Venice.
From Hamara Bajaj to 'The Fakir Of Venice': Meet director Anand Surapur
From Hamara Bajaj to 'The Fakir Of Venice': Meet director Anand Surapur
Written by:

Aditya Savnal

After having spent close to two decades in the world of ad and feature films, Anand Surapur makes his directorial debut with The Fakir Of Venice. The soon to be released film stars Farhan Akhtar, Annu Kapoor and Kamal Siddhu, and tells the story of a conman entrusted with the task of finding a poor guy to do a con job in Venice.

Most people might know Surapur through his advertisements. 

As India moved towards the late 90s, the modest scooter which represented the aspirations of the Indian middle class in the earlier decades gave way for more stylised motorcycles and non-geared bikes. This transition also extended to the brand of Bajaj Auto, whose iconic range of scooters occupies a prominent place in the history of modern day India.

But what stayed was the equally iconic jingle of Hamara Bajaj which was revamped for an ad that showcased Pulsar, Eliminator and the other newer range of Bajaj two wheelers. It also put the spotlight on Anand Surapur who directed the popular campaign.

Surapur later established Phat Phish Productions and directed several ad films and music videos that further established his credentials and made him a name to reckon with.

His repertoire of ad films boasts of brands such as Dominos (featuring Paresh Rawal), Surf and Thumbs Up (featuring Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi). He also directed music videos for songs such as Bombay Vikings’ Kya Soorat Hai and Bally Sago’s Noorie and subsequently shifted his attention towards filmmaking.

Surapur has also produced films such as Shashanka Ghosh’s Quick Gun Murugun (a takeoff on the popular Channel V character) and Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s National Award winning Frozen. He credits his mother and a stint with a documentary film crew during his college days for sparking his interest in filmmaking. This led Surapur to quit engineering and follow his passion. 

By Surapur’s own admission, The Fakir of Venice is inspired by filmmaker Homi Adjania’s experience of taking a fakir to the charming Italian city.

A working still from the film. Image courtesy: Anand Surapur

“Sanjay Sami narrated this story about how Homi (Adjania) took a fakir to Venice. And it got me really interested in this story” says the filmmaker.

He added that Rajesh Devraj’s script and dialogues that were rooted in reality made his job as a director much easier. But securing finances for the film was a herculean task and it took a while before the film could go on floors. 

Farhan Akhtar knew Surapur much before he came on board as the lead actor of the film. “Farhan was actually suggested by Anju Devraj. As Farhan was a friend, I sent him the script and he really liked it. We did a reading after which he came onboard. Since Farhan was already an established filmmaker, it made my task (of direction) much smoother and easier to execute,” says Surapur when asked about his association and experience of working with Akhtar.

The conversation then veers towards Annu Kapoor, who in the filmmaker’s opinion, fit the role to the T. “Annu ji is a mind blowing actor and played the part with immense grace and dignity. He and Farhan also complemented each other in a very unconventional way."

A working still from the film. Image courtesy: Anand Surapur

From helming ad films to music videos and now feature films, Surapur has chartered quite an interesting and diverse journey. But he feels that his creative process hasn’t altered much with the shift and progression in the medium.

With The Fakir Of Venice nearing release, Surapur says his projects in the offing include a film titled Love Is Blind and possibly a sequel to Quick Gun Murugun. He is quick to add, though, that the latter may just be a spontaneous afterthought for now and feels that planning for the future is a daunting task.

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