SayWhatNews is honored to speak candid with India film director and writer of the up coming film Osama, Faisal Saif. This in depth interview revealed detailed events that have taken place on the set of the new movie Osama at which Faisal Saif has never really spoken about to the media. With so much media buzz and public interest SayWhatNews was able to get the facts and keep it real.
SayWhatNews: Thanks so much for taking the time and speaking with SayWhatNews. I want to dive right in and discuss the hot topic about your new up coming film “Osama”. I heard that the plot was top secret and the cast had to sign a contract agreeing to not discuss the script with anyone especially the media. Is this true and why?
Faisal: I really thank you for interviewing me and it’s an honor to speak to SayWhatNews. Yes, it was a decision from my producer Ekta Das of Das Music and Entertainments to sign a Contract with Artists and Technicians to Not-to-reveal anything in the Press or Media regarding our film “Osama”. This was because the film deals with some sensitive and un-spoken truth. We didn’t want anybody to know what the film is until it gets released worldwide.
SayWhatNews: According to the buzz, the film is a love story that begins in Afghanistan all the way to the World Trade Center. Can you disclose more of the plot to SayWhatNews?
Faisal: The film is of course a Love Story with Terrorism as the backdrop. Apart from being a Love Story, This film also tackles a few issues such as WTC massacre, Human Bombings, Global Terrorism and etc. The film also speaks about the Up’s and Down’s of relationships and the misunderstanding as well.
SayWhatNews: What was your inspiration for the film “Osama”?
Faisal: After 9/11 attacks, Muslims all over the world automatically became a Suspect I feel. These attacks were executed by one person; but the whole Muslim religion and community suffered due to this. Today a man or a woman who is a Muslim is suspected. I am sorry to say this, but this is the Truth. This was the biggest inspiration for me to make “Osama”.
SayWhatNews: Why did you name the film “Osama”?
Faisal: Because this film deals with Osama and the life of Osama.
SayWhatNews: With so many unresolved issues and the continuation of terrorist attacks; why take the risk and film some of the movie in some of the most sensitive areas in Kashmir?
Faisal: This film had to be filmed in Kashmir. I could not have thought of any other place rather than Kashmir; because it is said that Major Terrorism happens over there. Before 10 days of Filming “Osama” in Kashmir, we heard this news about a Bomb Blast in a School Bus which showed 25 Dead Bodies of small innocent children. It was very sad to hear all this. The script of “Osama” demanded the locations of Kashmir anyways. Plus it’s also said that if you want to see Paradise, Come to Kashmir. And today this same Paradise is burning. I had to film this Truth.
SayWhatNews: Faisal, you filmed some of the romantic scenes in Kashmir; is it true that a group of Afghani men came down to watch the filming and see actually what was going on?
Faisal: We were filming this scene where Osama is performing his Salaats (Namaaz) in an open mosque. I realized that we were being watched by some suspicious men. I mean a group of 6 to 7 Afghani looking men. I smelled something was wrong there. But I continued to film that scene, because if I had stopped mid-way then it wouldn’t have been appropriate. After we finished the scene one man out of that group came to me and said that he wanted to talk to me personally.
The Afghani looking man introduced me as Haneef. He wanted to know about the story and the idea of the film. He also asked me that who the actor was playing Osama and all sorts of questions. When I told him that I was under strict contract with my producers to not-to reveal anything about the film to anybody, he got upset and he went away to talk to his other people who were standing at a distance. Later on Haneef came again and said that his group wanted to meet me in person as I am a Muslim. In my unit there was a Still Photographer who started clicking the pictures of those men. When those men realized this, they went away.
SayWhatNews: I know you and the crew had to be scared. Tell what actually was going through your mind?
Faisal: No, I don’t get scared or upset easily but at that moment I had to tackle this situation very calmly. It was a 40 people unit including the cast and crew members of the film. And being a Film Maker, I think they were my responsibility and I had to take care of them. So I thought to handle this situation in a very easy and cool manner.
SayWhatNews: Now I hear that the cast and crew had to pack up early because you received threats. Is this true and can you disclose exactly what kind of threats?
Faisal: Yes we had to leave Kashmir immediately as we were receiving these threats by some unknown people. These people wanted to know the story of Osama and they were also upset by a Hindu (Non Muslim) actor playing the part of Osama. They wanted to meet me in person regarding this because I am also the Writer of this film.
SayWhatNews: So, the men who were believed to be Mujahid because they were dressed in Mujahid clothing; asked to see the lead actor playing the role as Osama and when Pushkar Jog a (Non- Muslim) introduced himself the men became very upset. What actually happened during this encounter?
Faisal: “As I told you earlier that those men were upset that a Hindu (Non- Muslim) actor is performing Salaat (Namaaz) and also playing the part of Osama. They wanted to meet me in person to discuss this. But by that time we had already left Kashmir.
SayWhatNews: Ok, while you were making plans to film in Kashmir you had to have some sense of fear for your life and the crew before evening going, so why go?
Faisal: There was this actor called Akkshay Sethi who works in Television Series here in India (Mumbai). He was last seen in the TV Series called “Saat Phere”. He was introduced to me by my last film Sofia’s actress Siboney Lo. I met him and gave the idea of “Osama”. I was somewhat not satisfied by the looks of Akkshay Sethi. Anyways I never got in touch with him after that.
When I finished the final casting of the film, I started receiving phone calls from his side that he wanted to play Osama and etc. I clearly told him that I have already cast for this role and I couldn’t do anything on this. It was only then I started receiving Threatening Calls to change my actor playing Osama and cast Akkshay Sethi instead. It was very strange to me that I got these calls from countries like Chile, Mexico and USA.
The matter is with the cops right now and they are investigating on this. I thought that he will keep quiet after that and plus it was a Normal Issue after all. So I didn’t care about this much and went on to Film Osama.
SayWhatNews: I hear that you yourself received threats to change the actor. Can you tell us what was actually said?
Faisal: Yes I did receive those Threats from those men and I still keep getting Text Messages from them. This matter is registered in the Police Department of Mumbai and they are proceeding on this case.
SayWhatNews: So, tell me why did you decide to not listen to the threats and stick with your first choice to have Pushkar Jog to play the lead role as Osama?
Faisal: Who should I cast and who should I not; I think my producer must tell me; and not some strange people. And why not; if the actor deserves the job and he is good; why do I have to listen to people who are not even related to my film?
SayWhatNews: Faisal there is a lot of media buzz and public interest about the film “Osama”; when can we expect for it to be released and where?
Faisal: We have so far completed 35% of the film and we are about to start the next schedule in the month of February, I think if all goes well the film will be released in the month of June 2008 worldwide.
SayWhatNews: I also want to talk about your film “Come December” which won for the Best Story Award at the 2007 Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival. Tell us about that.
Faisal: Come December is a film that will always make me proud as a Film Maker. There are lots of Sweet and Bitter memories attached to this film. Winning the award was an honor.
SayWhatNews: Will “Come December” ever see the light of day?
Faisal: I really have no idea about this. But all I know is that my producer is very much enjoying its Film Festival runs.
SayWhatNews: Is it true that one of your films, “Sofia” was placed on hold because the lead actress Siboney Lo became jealous of the co-actress Jaya Bhattacharya and became violent on the set? Please tell us actually what happened and what caused this drama on the set?
Faisal: There was some misunderstanding that took place on the Film’s Set which I really don’t want to go into it. Jaya Bhattacharya I feel is one of the finest talent of Indian Cinema. She is very Hard Working and a dedicated actress. Jaya is also a very close friend of mine. Some of my friend-journalist who was present that day told me that Siboney Lo was drunk and went out of control. But I really don’t know that. As I said, I would really don’t want to go deep into it.
SayWhatNews: Well, have you spoken to Jaya since the incident?
Faisal: Frankly speaking, I didn’t have guts to face her after that. But since she is also a very close friend of mine, I did speak to her and cleared things out from my side. We are fine now, she is also a part of Osama and I am very happy for this.
SayWhatNews: Do you think she will be willing to return if production continues?
Faisal: Nope! She is very Stubborn and Dominating at the same time. I really love the way she dominates me. Ha! Ha! Ha! No I don’t think she will ever want to do Sofia with me.
SayWhatNews: What do you want your fans to walk away with from your films?
Faisal: I am interested in telling stories that people have never heard before. I want them to be entertained by my films. I want them to learn something good and useful out of the films I make.
SayWhatNews: What’s in the future for Faisal Saif?
Faisal: I don’t know, May be Lots of Good Work Insha Allah! We cannot predict the future can we?”
Faisal Saif website