It all started with one short film, Another Kind Of Black, that made it to a special screening at the Cannes Film festival in 2008 and Saad Khan was hooked to the world of cinema. Soon, FirstAction Studios was born, and with 2018’s comedy, Humble Politician Nograj, Saad had arrived. Humble Politician Nograj was made into a series. Saad with his roots in improv and stand-up, favours comedy and his second series, currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Constable Girpade, is generating chuckles.
Khushaal Pawaar plays the title role. “I thought of Girpade five years ago,” says Saad speaking from home in Bengaluru. “I was shuttling between Bengaluru and Mumbai for my improv shows. When I was in Mumbai, I came across many surnames including Ghorpade. I had a silly conversation with my friend that if this person slips and falls then he will be gir pade (fell down). We were in splits like children. The effect of the name stayed with me for long.”
“I have been lucky with my titles this far,” says Saad. “A title creates a certain amount of curiosity.” After the Nograj series, Saad says he got calls from production houses in Mumbai. “I have to thank the audience and am humbled by the response for the years of work.”
One of which was from Amazon Prime. “I had prepared four pitches. Despite a four-hour meeting, nothing clicked. When the first four were rejected, they asked if I had anything else. I gave them a one-liner — Girpade is a clumsy cop who stumbles and fumbles. They were interested and I was surprised they did not want to know any more, but asked me to start working on it.”
After the Girpade pitch was cleared, Saad says everything moved with clockwork precision. “I am a huge believer in the written word, so my team of writers and I sat for long hours to put everything down on paper.” Saad wrote the series with Aditya Bharadwaj and Abhinav Vaidya from FirstAction Studios. Maaz Khan is the producer of the series.
Content, Saad says, is their strength. “One cannot slack on writing. We charted out the episode arcs, as well as the secondary and character arcs. The show took shape with every written word.”
Working with Kushaal, Saad says, was a pleasure. “He is also a casting director and has done many cameos including in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. I saw one of his reels where he plays multiple characters and felt he had an amazing craft. I like it when an actor is able to switch between multiple characters effortlessly.”
At times, Saad says when an actor is portraying a character on screen, there are chances that they look fake. “This was not so with Kushaal. I backed him for this role as he had not just the look, but also the body language and reactions.”
Saad, who calls himself a Bengaluru boy, is now working on a Telugu script. The film will be produced by G Manoharan from Lahari Films, Nikhil Kumar from NK Entertainment and Sunil Kumar from Nandi Entertainments. “It will be a romantic comedy. Titled Sangeet, the shooting will start in January. It is a big-budget film. I have still not reached a position where people will splurge millions on me, but compared to what I’ve done till date, this is a huge budget.”
Laughter, Saad says is good. “Constable Girpade is termed a wholesome show, with a balance of emotions, comedy and suspense. Nograj was just an out-and-out comedy, while Constable Girpade is a comedy drama.”
Coming from a non-filmy background with a degree with mechanical engineering, Saad was supporting his family from when he was quite young. “The struggle was real. My tough journey has grounded me. No matter how good your work is or how many awards you get, people will never praise you more than what is required. Yet, I believe I have been lucky.”
The making of Constable Girpade, Saad says was loaded with laughter. “The crew and cast had fun. Sometimes, the actors added their punchlines. The series was shot at lightning speed in and around Mumbai during the sweltering summer, says Saad. A huge fan of Christopher Nolan, Saad says he follows his idol’s philosophy to “entertain, enlighten and engage the audience with my work.”
Constable Girpade is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video