‘Tumhari Sulu’ is the Vidya Balan film we have all been waiting for, promises producer Atul Kasbekar

The ‘Neerja’ producer says his upcoming film gets into the space of the movies of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Dibakar Banerjee.

Fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar, the man behind the glamourous Kingfisher calendar, turned producer with the award-winning Neerja in 2016. The biographical account of Pan Am air hostess Neerja Bhanot, who died while helping save the lives of passengers during a terror attack on board a flight to Karachi in 1986, was produced along with Fox Star Studios and released to wide acclaim. Kasbekar and his company Ellipses Entertainment are back with Tumhari Sulu, directed by Suresh Triveni and starring Vidya Balan as a housewife who becomes the host of a late-night radio show. The film stars stage actor Manav Kaul as her husband, who tries to keep up with his unstoppable wife.

In a conversation with, Kasbekar talks about how he is still incredulous about the success of his maiden production even as he is incredibly confident about his next.

After the success of ‘Neerja’, you had a problem of plenty, with at least eight scripts to choose from. Why did you settle for ‘Tumhari Sulu’?
There was a whole bunch of scripts in the pipeline. Some had been commissioned to writers by us [Ellipsis, his production outfit co-founded by former Balaji CEO Tanuj Garg], some we were in the process of acquiring. We had to put a stop to all of that.

If one had to write about how Neerja happened, it would tick all the boxes of the energies of the cosmos. I could not have written a better script. But the industry is in a flux. No one knows what works. When a film fails, the numbers are cataclysmic. It is not funny how badly it affects everyone when a film dies.

The two words that keep coming up are: honest and fresh. The two things that work for the audience. When we look at a script, we ask ourselves, does it get into a new space altogether?

With Neerja, when we were only on to the seventh page, we were on board. Because no one had done a film on hijacking yet.

With Tumhari Sulu, we are looking into the world of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee, Dibakar Banerjee. It’s a gentle, urban, well-written slice of life film, as opposed to spoofs or a loud modern-day homage to this genre of filmmaking. The director, Suresh Triveni, pitched the film to Vidya Balan, who called us and told us that there is a script we might want to take up. We were completely sold on the script.

Tumhari Sulu (2017).

Vidya Balan’s fans have been starved of a film and a script that does justice to her talent. Do you think this film could be the one that will put her back to where she belongs?
I am going out on a limb even before the movie releases and saying that this is one of her most nuanced performances yet. She is unbelievably good. If you are a Vidya Balan fan or love cinema in general, you cannot be happier.

Hrishikesh Mukherje’s films resonate because of his casting and the honest recreation of a middle-class milieu. Does ‘Tumhari Sulu’ have similar touches?
Even in Neerja, people appreciated the honest portrayal of a middle class home. It was a place where people would have grown up. In most films, we get to see a more glamourised version of this universe. I have had an exceptional production designer, Dhara Jain, whom Suresh trusts implicitly and other HoDs [heads of department] who were given the script and allowed to follow their instincts. We treat everyone from DoPs [directors of photography] to set designers as artists in their own rights, hoping that they are as inspired by the idea as we are. We wanted people to work with us because they are passionate about the film and believe that it will look good on their CV. And that passion shows.

For casting, we got Nandini Shrikent, one of the most prolific casting directors, who got on board immediately and sourced most of the actors, expect Mallishka and Neha Dhupia, who were my suggestions.

Casting Manav Kaul opposite Vidya was the master stroke. After the trailer released, a friend from Versova called up to say, listen it was a gamble to get Manav to do this role. I said, we never thought of it this way. When Manav came for the auditions, he was really good. We never for moment thought it was a risk. The chemistry that the two of them share is unreal. And also quite real.

Guru Randhawa, Tumhari Sulu (2017).

You speak often of how at Ellipsis, the focus is on writers and scripts rather than stars. How does that work out?
Who are we that a Fox Star would pick up Neerja? We went in the capacity of first-time producers and they liked what we presented. But despite being greenhorns, the time and effort and money spent at the writing level was so good that it made for a compelling pitch. So much so, the script was all they needed to back a new outfit.

We do not discuss stars or directors but focus on getting the script in place first. When we reach version three of the script, that is when we discuss the director and the actor. Working backwards this way makes complete sense for us.

At a time when the mightiest product houses and biggest of films are floundering, do you think your approach will work?
We would like put up an altar to Rajkumar Hirani and light a lamp every day or showing us the way. He is our hero. None of his films are preachy but have a subliminal message in somewhere. Big studios have been wiped out because there are directors who just want to make a fantastic film that no one goes to watch. But Raju’s films have also done commercially well.

After Neerja was released, I met a secretary to a top star who had until then been a little cold. He shook my hand and said, “I wanted to meet you because some of us were wondering who is this c**** – pardon my French – who makes a film on a budget of Rs 16 cores about a girl who dies in the end, with no song and dance.” So yes, that gives me the confidence that what we are doing, and with a lot of passion, is likely to work.

Atul Kasbekar.
Atul Kasbekar.
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.


So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.