Washington DC – With two awards under his belt, Manan Singh Katohora discusses the release of his new film, 9 Eleven. Katohora received the 2012 Rising Star Award for his feature film 9 Eleven at the Canada International Film Festival and the film was the winner of the Best Feature Film at the Peoples Film Festival in Manhattan, NYC, where it was the closing film of the festival.
With all the buzz around your film 9 Eleven, how do you feel today about your effort?
It feels good. This project took two and a half years of my life and today, when the film is playing at festivals, getting mainly positive reviews, it feels good to be acknowledged. It was the work of 40 different people, production team, cast and crew. I am very grateful to my family and friends, my cast and crew, who believed in my vision. They say it takes a village to raise a kid and this movie is my baby and wouldn’t have been possible without the support of everyone around me.
Where is your vision headed now?
My next project is a little more ambitious. Its called “2013: Pralay,” with a Hindi language script and a genre that as per my research has never been tried before in Indian film industry in Hindi or any language. It’s a post-apocalyptic fiction and we plan to film it in Hindi and dub in Tamil Telugu and Bengali to begin with. I am still trying to get investors for this project, so lets see when that happens.
One of my all time favorite quotes is by famous filmmaker David Lynch. He said, “All my movies are about strange worlds that you can’t go into unless you build them and film them. That’s what’s so important about film to me. I just like going into strange worlds.”
Did you have arguments against naming the film 9 Eleven? Why this name?
9 eleven is very important to the final major twist in the film and I confirm the film or any twist has nothing to do with the September 11, 2001, Twin Tower attacks. There is an undertone of terrorism in the film, but no connection with the September 11 attacks.
What are the challenges you faced in making this dream come true?
The first challenge was finding investors, so I met these three amazing producers: Sadhna Mathur, Krishen Mathur and Narain Mathur, with the help of Dr. Suresh Khetan. Next, to find 12 fluent Hindi speaking actors in the Washington DC area. So we found some, and then we did more auditions in New York. Finally, keeping the movie fast paced, no songs and dances. We do have one item number in the beginning featuring Kashmera Shah, to the tune of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge fame, Jatin Pandit.
Coming to your personal journey, when and where did you decide to step into the film world?
I have loved films and writing since I was a kid. I started writing some poems, short stories. Interestingly enough, my first story was titled Pralay when I was 9 year old. It was a revenge story of a wronged lover and now my most ambitious project, post-apocalyptic fiction, is titled Pralay. There is no connection in stories, but in true sense, I think Pralay will be the film that will define my career.
Who has been your greatest source of inspiration and who has thrown cold water on your dreams?
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She is a published writer and her poetry book, Yaadon Ki Saheli, is loved by all. She has been my biggest supporter and I dream of walking up to the stage with her for some prestigious award and dedicate everything to her.
Cold water on my dreams, many, but lets save that for an off the record chat.
What is your message to the next generation of artists and film makers?
Go ahead and do it. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Storytelling is the best high in life, no drug can replace that. Filmmaking, it’s the best example of teamwork. Nothing comes closer. We fall, we rise, we try again till we succeed and be honest to the art, and do it for the right reasons ~ Jai Mata Di.
About the film
The film 9 Eleven, which generated controversy with its title, has nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It is actually a psychological thriller about 11 people being inexplicably abducted and put into a room, then killed one by one. The subtitle is “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.”
The film was produced by ADF in association with JMD Creations.