Published: 24th June 2020
Why Kanika Batra's Project Papa will help you reconnect with you dad
Kanika Batra, Director and Actor of Project Papa, speaks about her independent film that is now streaming worldwide on an OTT platform. This is the story behind how the movie got made
When I opened my social media page, I happened to come across posts and photographs of people wishing their respective fathers a Happy Father's Day. It was serendipitous that I then stumbled across Kanika Batra's English feature film Project Papa that talks about the relationship of a father-daughter duo and how things change for them when they grow older. Currently, this Bengaluru-based independent film is streaming worldwide on one of the OTT platforms.
Kanika has written the story, directed and played a lead role along with her father Rakesh Batra in Project Papa. She says, "The journey started four years ago when I made a video called Call Dad Now in 2016 which went viral and was picked by many global media houses. This film became relevant because the theme matched the situation. It is important to tell your father or parents everything that you want to before it is too late. I felt that there was more to this film and that it can be made bigger."
Actor and director, Kanika Batra along with other artists
Then came the question of financing. She decided to just ask online. "I decided to take the crowdfunding path for Project Papa. Of course, I invested whatever money I had saved but the intention behind it was to keep this conversation going among people. At that point, we raised Rs 30 lakh from 154 people to make Project Papa."
What makes this film unique is that the elements in it are influenced by real-life stories and experiences — for which she met several father-daughter duos. She explains, "I spent three months talking to different people and it helped me weave this film. Another reason for me to make this film was some of my friends lost their fathers and things were not the same anymore. When I went with my family on a trip, I realised that my father was getting old and felt that it was the best time to share a stage with him. Besides being a businessman, my father has been into theatre for more than 20 years and he has written and directed plays. My first tryst with the theatre started when I was nine years old. I even remember how I acted in a musical theatre production directed by my father called Angelina, for which we toured across India and performed over three years to housefull shows. After this, we worked together for several musical and non-musical plays."
Kanika is a graduate in International Business Law from King's College London but after returning to Bengaluru, she felt it was important to influence people's lives directly and help them with their life skills. That's when she moved towards Learning and Development and took over as the Director of Outperform Learning, a training firm.
In the midst of all of this, she thought that Project Papa is something that would allow her to do something creative. "I thought that this project would take only six months but it took me three years," says Kanika, adding, "The reason behind it taking such a long time was to see that I learn various elements required to make a film. It included editing, directing and many other factors that were required to shoot a film. I would learn and execute them in my film at the same time. While the film was shot in 2016, the production work happened in 2017. It was a hectic three years and I learnt a lot but my hard work has paid off."
When we asked her what lessons she learnt from her father in life, she says, "He taught me to face the bullets head-on if they are in my way and not to run away. Another factor that I always carried with me was to be generous and kind to everybody."