In the summer of heated debates around The Kerala Story, here comes a film that should warm the cockles of many a heart, and make film viewing a family experience all over again. That is what the young director Ankit Hans assures about his low-key Auhaam, a “romantic thriller”.
“In recent weeks, we have heard or seen a high-strung film dealing with a sensitive subject. Auhaam, on the other hand, is the kind of film a family can watch together without anybody feeling embarrassed. A romantic thriller, it has emotion, love, suspense and action,” he says. All the elements come wrapped around the story of a man looking out for his missing wife, with the help of a cop.
Hans is clearly thrilled with what he has put together for cine-goers. “I had goosebumps during the press show in Delhi earlier this week. Initially, I was nervous about the reaction of the press and the audiences; but in the end, many people could not make out that it was my directorial debut,” says Hans.
For the uninitiated, Hans has been a noted actor who ended up with the director’s baton almost by default. It all started during the Covid-induced lockdown. “Like so many upcoming actors, I too was at home, waiting for things to open up, shooting to resume. There was not much to do and confidence was at a low ebb. I was not very sure about the path ahead,” he recalls. That is when a couple of friends narrated the story of Auhaam to him. It gave his life a new meaning.
“My friends, Hriday Singh and Mukul Verma narrated the story and I got hooked to it. I drew visual imagery of the film there itself. However, production houses and known directors did not agree to come on board. The subject, however, was too good to be left pending for another day. So my friends and crew members suggested that I direct the movie. Initially surprised at the proposal, I took it up.”
Wasn’t he nervous donning the hat for the first time, more so as he had not been an assistant director either? “I was a little nervous as I had no experience. But then I recalled that as an actor, I had kept a close eye on the directors I worked with. Often, after doing my scene, I would stand behind the director and watch how he would film the next shot. That experience proved useful while directing Auhaam. I imagined how a person standing behind me would react,” he shares.
It wasn’t easy though. The budget was limited and the shooting schedules were tight. “We shot the film across eight months last year at live locations. We have used the actual railway station at Dibai (in western Uttar Pradesh), a police station, and even dangal/akhara. (ring/arena) Only for a few shots inside a train, did we have to book a studio I believe live locations lend authenticity and help maintain a certain tempo in the film,” says Hans who has spent long years in Delhi.
The film, catering largely to multiplex, urban audiences, is releasing at 125 halls across India and also in Nepal simultaneously today.