Today another dream was rekindled. Paani. A film that has lived in my consciousness for almost 5 years, when I watched 50 women and children standing in the hot sun in Mumbai. Each carrying a bucket waiting for a tap to start dripping with water.

Paani means Water in Hindi.
I had just come down from a friends place in Pali Hill, one of the more expensive residential areas in Mumbai. My friend had me waiting for half an hour while he showered. He lived on the 30th floor, and the slum where there was no water was just below his apartment building.
This inequity in the most basic resource neccessary for human survival set me thinking and a story developed.
More later…

59 thoughts on “Paani

  1. Have you heard Mos Def’s song “New World Water”? Its on an album called Black on Both Sides. Great artist. Interesting actor as well.
    I often think about the concept of tap water here in America. This particular society has built an amazing and perhaps unparalleled infrastructure of sewage and fresh water delivery systems that wisks away our waste and brings to us an abundance of safe drinking water. And what do we do? We buy it! Its a frickin’ compulsion, bottled water. Fresh water is freely flowing into our homes from every faucet and we go to the store and buy it. Or have it delivered. (Interesting system, this one based on capital, innit?) I, too, am culpable. I live in Los Angeles. I buy water. I wrinkle my nose at the slight chlorine odor that emanates from the ‘eau du tap’. And then I think of what you’ve said mr. k.
    I think of a girl my age waiting with a bucket for some water that may or may not come, water which may or may not be safe. I try to see through her eyes and I try to feel the beating of her heart. And then in my imagination I invite her over to my place for a visit. We have some tea. I make it from the water from the tap. We laugh at that. Because sometimes life is just so damn funny.

  2. I haven’t got an inkling about how your film Paani will look, in terms of production design and other visual aspects, but since it is set in India of the future, I really hope that you will portray India and Indians in a positive light and not fall prey to the typical Western way of portraying India as a filthy country full of poor, half-naked and starving brown people. It’s not like there isn’t any truth to those images, but it isn’t the whole truth either. The India of today is changing and it’s changing very rapidly. The India of future will be very different. It will powerful, prosperous and advanced. I hope you keep this in mind while making. It is very important for me as an Indian, because after much huffing and puffing the Indian train seems to have left the station and is moving towards a bright and prosperous future.
    A film depicting a bleak future of India, full of slums, poverty and ravaged by a civil war for water, would be nothing short of being catastrophic for India’s international image. And especially at this juncture when the image of India in the eyes of the international community is going through a sea change and they are now eager to come and invest in India in order to a get a piece of prosperous future. I know I sound paranoid, may be even silly, but it matters. The Indian train needs all the help it can get to reach its destination because often it doesn’t take much to sully the reputation and standing created with years of efforts. Even the seemingly most unimportant and innocuous things can create huge hurdles.
    I therefore request you to be kindly mindful of the above aspects while making the film. In the India of the future, there will be rich people and there will be poor people. But the poor will be relatively poor and won’t be half-naked, starving people living in filthy slums.
    Again, please at least give it a thought. A lot could be riding on it.

  3. Mr.k. this seems to be an amazing story. The idea is absolutely novel. And in fact, a director of your caliber only can do justice to it. I mean showing an indian city in 1940s is not an easy job.
    The incident that u discussed, that gave birth to the story, reminded me of yet another incident.
    I am a doctor, and doing my masters in public health in USA. Last week I saw a movie in which they showed a small village in Africa caught in the web of guinea worm infection. 60% of the population was affected and suffered from disabling disease caused by the mighty worm.
    The most stunning thing was that, they were then neglected by all others in the community, and faced a heart hurting social stigma.
    The matter of fact is that this disease is spread by cyclops living in water. The people used to drink that dirty water directly from the ponds. By water i mean, a brown liquid through which one can hardly see the bottom of the pond !!
    And here in USA we get drinking water in all the taps and that too we use it so lavishly !
    So a film with ‘water’ as the center of story is really worth a curiosity !
    keep it up Mr. Director,

  4. this reminds me of a bit from the flick Sahara (the only good bit) where the warlord plans on killing people and is opposed by a westerner – he says dont worry , its Africa, nobody cares about Africa.
    similarly – the country is boomning, the middle class is forming, the poor people are just pictures and the beggars just get in the way.

  5. A Member of Parliament from Bihar had once said that he felt guilty everytime he flushed his toilet. He knew the trouble that women in his constituency had to face to obtain the same volume of water. But how many of us really care. It is easy to address the feel-good factor by saying the right words. The same guy will leave the tap running while shaving at a leisurely pace. In this context I remember reading the Nobel laureate in Physics Richard Feynman’s book ‘Surely you are joking Mr. Feynman’. In this book he describes how he prefered to urinate in the sink. He wrote that he opened the tap and made sure the sink was clean after he had used it this way. If he saved something like five litres of water everytime he urinated he must have saved something like forty thousand litres in 5 years. Assuming he urinated four times a day. Not bad. And if one were to multiply this with, say, a hundred million concerned citizens then the total savings would be awesome. Food for thought for urinal designers?

  6. Hello, shekharji.I am from india.I saw ur interview on talk asia,BBC. I just found this website today.First of all,just a line about me,i
    am 21 & have just completed my graduation,and have taken theatre training in the past,and finally I am an aspiring film maker like you sir.
    I am VERY VERY passionate about ur concept of ‘paani’.According to me it is the most titilating concept i have ever heard.i too myself have many concepts free floating in my mind.but i wud discuss that later with you.
    Sir if i am allowed to ask, can i please have your mail id,because in this section i am only allowed to write about your films.
    In the end i just wanted a little help from you.
    Thank you so much for your precious time.I hope to hear from you soon,sir.Good night.

  7. Hello shekar,
    This concept has already been unveiled by Mr. K>Balachander in Tamil. The movie name was Thanneer Thanneer. It was a great movie starring Saritha.

  8. Bharat wants to develop rural;
    ‘Give them power’ is their goal;
    in their quest for development,
    they please urban establishment;
    but end up in just a governing role.
    Farmer is ignorant of any global issue;
    he has his own view;
    he only wants power and water;
    but rain god plays truant and makes him poorer;
    he ends up in debt and gives Bharat his due.
    Some take their lives;
    some burn themselves;
    women end up taking the burden;
    they fetch water, they enliven;
    and make their children better citizens.
    Bharat is now in a fix;
    to go urban or rural or a mix;
    they look for mediation;
    to meet growing population;
    will they succeed or are they in a jinx?
    Public, in any case, has to suffer;
    after all, they have a life to lead and deliver;
    a flyover here, a mall there;
    an e-post everywhere;
    they remain a mere spectator.
    Gopinath S
    The rural diaspora
    Rural needs power;
    but urban is gluttony;
    for government, rural is dear;
    but urban pays money.
    They suffer in silence;
    they have no water or money;
    rain is in pittance;
    way, is there any?
    Reform is the key;
    thought the intelligentsia;
    elections drowned all into the sea;
    new ways are, now, the mania.
    Devolution is the new mantra;
    say, why not try this route?
    this is no tantra;
    rural folk are not mute.
    ‘Let’s try social’,
    say, the learned;
    caravan moves rural;
    they have time to spend.
    Folk moan, beg and cry;
    they give a patient hearing;
    the learned say, “try, try and try’;
    they keep cajoling.
    Folk agree to be more social;
    but government is busy tempering;
    folk will do anything to be happy and less menial;
    Now is the best time for assuaging.
    Gopinath S

  9. Hy shekhar,
    Nice web site. Well its a more of ur personal diary than the site.Really poetic.
    Paani is a nice subject. But try 2 c it by d backdrop of rural area. V can c water scarcity in city with our eyes but v cant c d water in eyes as v can c in rural area.People count rich man as how much water they have in their hold. Even politics of community comes in d picture wen a dam or a cannal gets through the tribals.
    May be this things r not new 4 u but this is just 2 share it with u becoz i am writing a script on this route. Anyways thx again 4 such a well visulized site.
    May God & all the senses b with u !

  10. Hi Shekhar,
    just thinking about that narration of Paani under the wisdom tree that day, it was awesome. I just wanna spalsh into the creation of ‘Paani’, u know what i mean………keep flaoting.

  11. hello sir!
    Well paani is the one thing which generates ‘thirst’…..
    “Moti bhi apna paani chupane ke liye paani me rehta hai”.
    From ancient times people have been struggling for paani…..paani gives them different shades but paaani never gets those shades…ram rajya ke samye, ram ki tarha, raven ko paani chahiye tha,aaj har ek neta ko apne sapne(to be a leader,to be at top) ka paani chahiye……magar in sab ke bich pise jate hai vo log jeenhe sach me peene ke liye paani chahiye……
    paani ki pyaas har ek manav ko hai……jo pyasa hai uske andar ek aag hai aur us aag ko shany karne ke liye fir se paani chahiye…..

  12. Hi,
    I like yr subject “Paani”. Its very true world’s 1/3 part has but till today we pay for it.
    Paani ke liye paisa,
    Kudarat ne itna diya uska na koi dam,
    aur agar aam adami chahe paani to uska le dam,
    Hy yeh paani kaisa.

  13. Please do watch Rahul Bose’s ‘Split Wide Open’. Surprisingly it deals about current issue of mob controlling water in slums through ‘water mafias’ in Mumbai. It’s really an eye opener in to the issue, extending it in your ‘paani’ would be great.

  14. Shekhar,
    This has been 4 years since you conceived this idea. I am very sure you must be working on nitties and gritties and this is one of the reasin its taking longer time. Could you please let me know wheh you are planning for release?

  15. Namastey
    As far as i know We as an Indian, firstly need to be disciplined and honest. That’s the Juice. Rest would be fine automatically. I live not very far form that Church Shekhar.

  16. The world of ‘paani’ supposedly assumes that the poor will get poorer and more and more marginalised in the scheme of resource distribution…in my opinion a conflict looms over the horizon…the ‘poor’ will not quietly fade into oblivion and despair, they will fight, and given their vast numbers and the power hungry manipulators present amongst the human masses, they will unleash a horrific vengeance on all of us ‘priviliged’ peoples…

  17. Hi, I would like to know if it’s true that you are interested in Kristen Stewart to play the wealthy lady in this film? Some reports online even said she (Kristen Stewart) agreed to play the role. Is this true?

  18. Hello Sir,
    Its a great concept. It can show 2 sides of the world, at one where things are in planty (Hence they doesnt know the importance) and at the other side there scarcity in such a way that people are dieing .

    Just like at some part of the world people are dieing in “FLOODS” and in some due to scarcity of water.

    I sudied about this behavior of people, its very difficult to change there “MANTALITY”, to show the “PAIN” and it cant be shown until and unless we feel it because (PYAAS KYA HOTI HAI? YE WAHI BATA SAKTA HAI JO SAARA DIN REGISTAAN MAI “PAANI” KI TALAASH MAI BHATKA HO).

    I shall send yuo a file named as “TWO SIDES OF THE WORLD”, go through those pictures, it shows the luxurious life and how small kid are being snached by the “Egle” in the same nation. (IT WILL FORCE YOU TO THINK MORE AND MORE ABOUT IT).

    All the best,

    I really wish to be the part of “PAANI”

    With Regards,

    Karan Raj Singh

  19. Dear Shekhar:

    We share a similar experience. The same thing happened to me, twenty years ago, but in the U.S. An energy corporation wanted to ship water from the majestic Great Lakes, twenty percent of the surface water on the planet, to the West. Not long after I had a dream, where I awoke no longer smelling the scent of water and ran to the edge of a high bluff overlooking a bay on Lake Michigan, and the shore line was rapidly receding. I ran down the bluff, trying to reach the shoreline, but it kept receding until there was nothing but wet bottomlands covered with artificacts of civilization, a distant city on the horizon, and the eyes of flopping fish. I realized then that water would become the central challenge for the world, and that it would bring peace or suffering, the choice was ours. Like yourself, I saw a story, wrote it down, but one set in the present, about the unfolding story before our eyes of control by large corporate interests of the essence of life and power — which will it be? I wish you and your team the best in bringing your film to audiences everywhere. This has been needed for sometime. As Maude Barlow says, water has been and always must be a commons held in public trust with human rights and ethical and legal duties to maintain and protect the water from generation to generation.

  20. Sir,

    I’m Vishanth,a very big follower of your films.I am greatly looking forward for your upcoming project ‘PAANI’,which I personally believe will be a masterpiece from you.And also have a great passion to work with you, especially in this project.If you are looking for any technical assistant or any that you want to role in to this project for work,I would like to be a part.

    Vishanth P Vinod

    P.S. I have worked in the TV industry before,also took 2 short films with my friends.

  21. Sir,

    I am a big fan of your movies and hrithik roshan. Sir I know u were thinking of casting a hollywood star against hrithik and she was kristen stewart. I don’t think she will look good in a movie like this I think u should cast more establihed actress in hollywood. Kristen is fine but with hrithik I don’t think so.

  22. Sir,

    I am a big fan of your movies. Your new project Paani sounds very interesting and with hrithik in it I think it will be outstanding. Sir I know u were planning to cast kristen stewart in paani with hrithik but I don’t think it’s a good decision. You should cast someone who is more established actress and who have more experience. Kristen is fine but with hrithik I don’t think so. What do u think of Kate Hudson or Kate Beckinsale. Just a suggestion.

    Thank you & Good Luck.

  23. Hello Shekhar

    It goes without saying that your work is always off the beaten track and therefore much awaited with baited breath. I am a member of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Charitable Trust in New Zealand. We have been working endlessly to raise awareness about the paani issue amongst lay people. But I suppose we are only a drop in the ocean (pardon the pun). Unfortunately NZ water is about to be privatised. Jim Olsen has so got his finger on the pulse, we need more people of such calibre. Good luck with your Paani venture.


  24. Hello Mr. Kapur,
    I watched and analyzed a lot of film ( out of interest and love for films& stories).
    I know you don´ t talk much about projects till you have finished, like an artist who does not shows a half painted picture.
    So I make an suggestion you can read it, think about it, you may like it or you will ignore it, feel free to decide yourself.
    You will make an phantastic film with Hrithik Roshan, the film will go around the world.

    I came about to think. Your actors will speak English or Hindi.
    If you have the possibility to choose the german voice for Mr. Roshan I like the voice of Norman Matt who synchronized him in some films like “Koi mil gaya” or “Dhoom 2 ” very well indeed .

    Some are talking about you have choose your actress already if there is a possibility or a need to change your mind…
    If Julia Roberts is not “to old” for the task or the roll , could imagine that she would be perfect.
    ( I like her very much, for her acting and her personality)

    Maybe my fantasy /imagination ran riot but the topic fires my imagination. .. I have to ask the question, is there a possibility to visit and watch a day ( depending on your permission)how you shoot the film paani?
    Can make me invisible or can help if required (german, english, italien). is my email.

    Good luck

  25. Reading this I believed it was pretty enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to place this article together. Once again I find myself wasting way too enough time both browsing and also posting comments. Although so what, it was nonetheless significant!

  26. really good concept…shelling the idea of indian subjugation..of the poor for the most important necessity to a human being…nd please sir…tell us about the rumors spreading that..u r taking twilight star kristen stewart….to star up wid hrithik,,,,best of luck for the movie sir…

  27. Hi Sir..
    I am very enthusiastic to see this movie, I am a fan of Hritik. and would like to see him again after “Guzaarish” and ” Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” which is Filming..
    I would also like to work in this Film, see if you have any role for me..

    Thnkz $ Regards.

  28. Thank you for making the effort to discuss this particular, Personally i think highly about it and love learning more on this particular subject. If at all possible, as you gain expertise, can you thoughts updating your blog with more info? It is very ideal for me personally.

  29. Hi I conscionable dropped by and desirable to say you to love a Merry Christmastime. Let all your wishes achieve come real for you and your family and lets wish the next period be prosperous for all us. Merry Christmas

  30. hi sir,
    I would like to work under you sir,if possible.

    sorry to ask this here but i don’t know any other way to contact you.

    my mail id

    thanks and regards

  31. hi shekhar sir,

    i’m a big fan of yours. Also, recently heard your concept for film “paani”. It sounds amazing…best of luck to you.

  32. ‘us pey turrah yeh ke saaf nal ke paani ko bhi filter chayey’: another marketing scandal well supported by ruling class.

  33. Thank you for that smart critique. Me & my neighbour were preparing to do some research about that. We received a very good book on that matter from our local library and most books exactly where not as influensive as your information. Im quite glad to see this kind of information which I was searching for a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.