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Hats off!

Prahlad Kakkar has donned yet another hat, that of a film producer with a short film, Bali. The advertising guru tells it is just a prelude to his giant leap into feature films



The juggler: Prahlad Kakkar — Photo: H. Vibhu

SHOULDER-LENGTH hair flowing free for the breeze to tease. Often a cowboy hat on with a fat cigar to make the image perfect. And, an all-knowing smile to gel well with the bearded looks.

Prahlad Kakkar without qualm fits well as someone imposing and an old hand who could make a party rock, endowed with a tried and tested sense of humour, knows the right marketing mantra, can script the success of a wannabe model, is a cook who knows already what the host has in store, can brilliantly carry through a debate as to which horse should one bet on, and is a naturalist in love with the corners of seabed.

And now more.

Already donning many hats, that of an advertising guru to cigar manufacturer to running a restaurant in Mumbai so lovingly named Sarson Da Saag to scuba diving with wife Mitali, he is now on to juggling another hat — making films. To be precise, making short television films.

Feature films

"Rather, it is a beginning, an interim before I embark on making feature films," the man puts it himself for those willing to listen.

Out of the curtains came his Bali on Star One, featuring the gorgeous Mandira Bedi and Ram Kapur. Directed by new-generation filmmaker Shujaat Saudagar, Prahlad has produced the short film for the channel's movie slot Studio One, weaving in the parallel tracks of a wife who has miscarried her first baby and then bears another and the husband, an ACP, tracking a serial killer. Murder, investigation, gun fighting, emotional turmoil, and it boils down to "a riveting original film," says Prahlad. "Actually, I am waiting for the feedback. It is important for me to know it before getting ahead."

With his next venture already on the plan chart, and another short film for Star One's Studio One. "It is a romantic story beautifully written by former model Feroze Gujral," he informs. Though the rest of the cast has not yet been decided, he chose for Bali people he had worked with earlier, and so, vibed well throughout.

"You might think I have chosen Mandira for obvious reasons but I did so because she worked as my assistant for six months in my advertising firm Genesis before moving on to do the serial Shanti. Also, Ram Kapur worked with me for a year. And then, there are other people in the team who are former Genesis employees," he stresses the point. And the story he had chosen because "we have already an audience for these kind of films." The medium — Star One — is for the "kind of viewers it caters to."

Feature film

But what opening the door for the maker of well-remembered ads for Britainnia, Pepsi, Nestle, Maggi, ITC among others here is a full-fledged big screen film. "I have registered two names for it — We are Like That Only or Mere Mehboobs," he states. He has two sets of actors in mind to do the film, one Bollywood oldies and the other the young lot. "I am thinking of Dharmendra, Prem Chopra and Jagdeep to do the older people's roles and Aftab Shivdasani and Divya Jaitley as hero and heroine." Aftab and Divya, again because he had featured the former in Farex ads as a baby and the latter in Britainnia's Maska Chaska ad.

The film is about today's politicians and their politics, the way our Parliament sessions are, "finally looking at how miraculously our country runs".

"I don't know whether to call it a comedy or a tragedy because it depends on you how you look at the state of affairs today," he adds seriously, rather unusual for a man who laces his words with a full-throated laugh always.

Making rings of cigar smokes (though he produces Shergar in the Philippines but loves Monte Cristo for himself), one would think it is easy to make such armchair comments. The only difference is, Prahlad would soon be getting down to business.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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