Junglee Pictures had a dream run in 2018 as the company garnered critical acclaim as well as great numbers at the box office.
4 year old production house delivered two genre defining films- Raazi and Badhaai Ho– back to back blockbusters in less than 6 months.
Priti Shahani, President of Junglee Pictures shares, “We have every reason to celebrate; our films have received critical acclaim as well as commercial success, which makes it even better for us. We had high expectations from both the movies, but the final outcome was beyond our expectations.”
She maintains that, “The tenet for us to green-light a subject is that the plot and characters should be relatable and it should be entertaining. Also, we’ve been fortunate to work with supremely-talented writers and directors, who always brought something new to the table. They have played an imperative part in our journey.”
Right from Rajkumar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana in Bareilly Ki Barfi to Vicky Kaushal in Raazi to Gajraj Rao in Talvar and now Badhaai Ho, Junglee Pictures has been known to push talent- relevant to the story. As Neena Gupta asserted, Badhaai Ho was the first film that made her the heroine of the story.
Elaborating on the casting of Junglee Pictures’ films, Priti adds, “Our casting process has always been very organic. We’ve allowed our stories to dictate the talent that comes with the part, and not the other way round. For Raazi (2018), Meghna (Gulzar, director) was convinced that Sehmat could only be played by Alia and that worked out brilliantly. Again, Amit (Sharma) first pitched Badhaai Ho (2018) to Ayushmann, and there was no turning back.”
Looking back on her journey with the production house, Meghna Gulzar shares, “I can’t really call my association with Junglee Pictures a professional one. I was returning to filmmaking after seven years and they were just starting out with a core team of two. Five years and two films (Talvar being the other) later, Junglee Pictures and Priti Shahani are not only my producers, but also my friends-like family.”
“Two Rs. 100 crore films in six months is a rare feat. And a befitting achievement, because Junglee Pictures and Priti Shahani don’t tailor films to make Rs. 100 crores at the box office, they garner and hone strong content, that has an emotional connect with our audience and our society. Priti is a producer I immensely respect — for her eagle eye for great scripts, her sharp business acumen in making it economically viable, and her heart of gold in the journey of script to screen,” she adds.
Amit Ravindernath Sharma, director of Badhaai Ho shared his experience saying, “The whole team is thoroughbred and professional from the word go. They let you nestle in and help you plant the seed of thought and stay with you through the process. Priti has a solid understanding of content. She is precise and direct, will tell you what she thinks, and let you decide. Being able to take the final call as a director, and having your team show that trust in you is special,” says Amit.
Priti is looking at 2019 with utmost optimism. The studio has Vidyut Jammwal starring family adventure- Junglee coming onscreen on April 5th. It is directed by legendary Hollywood director- Chuck Russell- of The Mask and The Scorpion King fame. This would be one of its first collaboration for a Bollywood film studio and a Hollywood director.
On the way forward for Junglee Pictures, Priti says, “We will continue doing what we’re doing; expanding the number of stories we’re going to tell and working on collaborations with other partners and producers. We won’t be limited to feature films. We are developing a web series with Abhishek Chaubey, which is a crime thriller set in the hinterlands of UP. We have an exciting line-up and announcements will follow soon.”