Revered by many, misjudged by many more, a Madrasa is a place of learning for elementary or higher instructions, not necessarily religion. But, over the years, various factors have contributed to diminishing the repute of Madrasas.
In his first-ever feature film titled Salam Madrasa Hindustani, Rajdeo sets out to explore Madrasas in rural India. The film tells the story of two kids, Imran and Ali, who befriend a ragpicker, Bantu, and convince his father to let him study at their Madrasa. Soon, things go for a toss after both Bantu and the Madrasa’s Maulvi (teacher) go missing. Unsurprisingly, the blame falls on the Maulvi and his Madrasa. Next, it is up to Maulvi’s son Shahid, who arrives from Dubai, to clear the allegations made on his father and the Madrasa.
Rajdeo, 30, finished shooting for the feature film in September 2019. It entered the post-production stage, and was, however, delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic which brought the entire world to a standstill. In a conversation with City Times, Rajdeo reveals that his feature film was officially selected by Lift-Off Film Festival and First-time Filmmaker session 2020, which is organized by Pinewood Studios, a London-based film and television studio. “It gave me confidence, and made me believe that the film is on the right track,” Rajdeo said. “But the lockdown and government restrictions put a stop to the whole process.”
Salam Madrasa Hindustani’s trailer and music launch will take place in Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa on May 17. “I want to create a big impact, which is why I want the launch to take place in the world’s tallest building,” Rajdeo said, adding that it was possible with the support of the sponsors and Investors, who showed a sincere interest in the film’s principal idea.
The cast of the film not only includes professional theatre actors, but also normal citizens who have zero experience in playing a role for the film. “I like to choose and know my characters, and when I saw them, I said to myself, ‘Yeah, they can do it,” Rajdeo said.
Rajdeo, who founded Aarambh Pictures, a Mumbai-based film production company, had a hard time shooting for the film in Ranchi, Jharkhand, where rain played spoilsport. “For two days, we went to the shoot at an outdoor location and waited for the rain to end, but returned empty-handed,” said Rajdeo, adding that the limited availability of resources was also a tough challenge to overcome during the shoot.
Nishant Mahesh Jaiswal is the producer of this film.
From the United Arab Emirates, Rajdeo has worked with, Imrana Majeed who is the Co-Producer of this film, and Sonia Majeed has been introduced as the main singer & It’s her debut in Bollywood films.
“I loved the innocence in Sonia’s voice,” Rajdeo explains why he chose to work with the musician, who is also a global goodwill & peace ambassador too.
Without the support of Imrana Majeed, the film couldn’t have happened in Dubai.
Following the trailer and music launch in Burj Khalifa, Rajdeo plans to showcase Salam Madrasa Hindustani in different film festivals across the world, one of them being the Festival de Cannes and then for the theater release worldwide in different languages.
“This is a topic which people need to know about, and Cannes is the best platform there is to portray such an issue,” Rajdeo said.
Before signing off, Rajdeo reveals his two upcoming projects: Saathida, which has already completed post-production, and Happy Birthday, a big-budget commercial film, for which he is in talks to cast some popular names from Bollywood.
All three projects are in collaboration with Imrana Majeed and Sonia Majeed. She gave her beautiful voice In the Film Saathida too.