A chance viewing of a documentary about an old man who revisits his pre-Partition home in Pakistan after 70 years served as an inspiration for Kaashvie Nair to make her filmmaking debut with “Sardar Ka Grandson”. A few years ago, Nair, who previously co-directed TV series “POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke” with filmmaker Nikkhil Advani, stumbled upon Al Jazeera’s 2017 documentary “Going Back to Pakistan: 70 Years After Partition”.
The documentary by Clement Gargoullaud and Prashun Mazumdar chronicled the poignant and heartrending story of nonagenarian Krishan Kumar Khanna’s countless efforts to obtain a visa and return to Pakistan.
For Nair, the documentary gave rise to the plot for “Sardar Ka Grandson”, a story about a man (Arjun Kapoor) who goes to great lengths to fulfil his grandmother’s (Neena Gupta) last wish of revisiting her old home in Pakistan.
Nair has penned the film’s story with Anuja Chauhan, while Amitosh Nagpal has written the dialogues.
“I work very organically. What struck a chord with us is this documentary of a man, who went back to Lahore on the 70th year of independence, to see his house. That emotion in the man’s eyes captivated us the most. There is an emotion here, there is a story here,” Nair, 34, told PTI in a zoom interview.
As she kept reading stories about the Partition, the director realised it was a universal emotion, prevalent among people, to revisit their old houses, including her own grandfather, who shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra in his youth.
“My grandfather didn’t deal with the Partition per se; he left Jamnagar and then migrated to Bombay. He wanted to go back to see the house. When I took him to see that house, every memory was vivid and detailed out.
“Having that experience to some extent, we realised that this is what we want to talk about… That emotion really kind of built into this world of what if we take a character who’s longing for that house that he or she has left behind,” Nair said.
“Sardar Ka Grandson” will premiere on Netflix on May 18. It also features John Abraham, Rakul Preet Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Soni Razdan, Kanwaljit Singh.
Nair decided to anchor the film around a grandparent-grandchild relationship, as she believes it is the most “sacrosanct” in the world.
The director said the pandemic has made people realise the importance of being surrounded by their loved ones, which makes the film even more relevant.
“When we were writing the movie, this wasn’t the situation but family always deserves that importance in our lives. It’s us just trying to drill that into everybody’s head. In today’s day and age, it is relevant in a way you put family into perspective for a change.”
Nair said the millennial generation is so caught up with their work that they hardly get to spend any time with their parents and the movie aims to reignite that lost connect.
“We come home and before you sleep, you meet your parents for an hour. Now you have time to spend with them. And you realise that… family was always a priority, it just gets lost in everyday life, and this film tries to bring that back into your life.”
Nair, who is the daughter of filmmaker Shashilal K Nair, known for films such as “Falak”, “Angaar” and “Grahan”, started her journey as an assistant director on Advani’s 2011 sports drama “Patiala House” and later thriller “D-Day” (2013).
She made her first TV film in 2014 titled “Shaadi Vaadi And All That”, produced by Advani, for MTV.
Recalling her growing up years, Nair said, “I was never really allowed on sets because he thought I wouldn’t do it. During my college days, I was making short film videos which were appreciated then my father realized about my interest in it.
“I helped him a bit on his movie ‘Ek Chhotisi Love Story’ and then I started working with Nikkhil Advani,” she said.
“Sardar Ka Grandson” is produced by T-Series, Emmay Entertainment and JA Entertainment. PTI KKP RB SHD