Comments (0)
News |  25 May 2020 17:23 |  By RnMTeam

Rising new talent in independent cinema, writer and lyricist Neeraj Pandey

MUMBAI: Neeraj Pandey would often be confused with the acclaimed Bollywood director of the same name but in recent months Neeraj, as one of independent cinema’s up-and-coming writers has lined up an enviable body of work that should put to rest any confusion.

The past six months have seen the professional-game-artist-turned-lyricist-and-writer work with some of the best names in alternative cinema. His name has been a part of projects that have travelled on the festival circuit winning accolades and critical praise in equal measure.

Like Prashant Nair’s Tryst with Destiny that won the award for ‘Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film’ at Tribeca Film Festival 2020, and for which Neeraj wrote dialogue. Or like Hardik Mehta’s widely-praised Kaamyaab starring Sanjay Mishra – which was in the news recently for words of appreciation by Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho for its poignant portrayal of forgotten character actors – a film for which Neeraj was the lyricist.

Neeraj was also a part of one of the most exciting Hindi shows in recent years, Hasmukh which surprised viewers and critics with its story and setting. The dark comedy featuring comedian-actor Vir Das and multifaceted performers like Ranvir Shorey and Ravi Kishan had an unlikely premise – a small-town comic-turned-killer from Saharanpur – developed by Das himself, alongside a motley bunch of writers including Neeraj, who also wrote the dialogues.

“While growing up, the soci0-economic and political environment around me didn’t leave me with much options other than to dream,” says Neeraj. “So talking to imaginary friends or being lost in my own world was my escape from reality. I grew up hearing “the future is not here, the future is somewhere else, so I used to talk to the people I would meet in the future. Through that, I developed a style of imagining different characters and juggling those different thoughts, and as a writer that has come in handy,” he adds.

Born in Buxar, Bihar, Neeraj made his debut as a writer in Bollywood with the 2017-released and critically acclaimed Sameer, for which he wrote additional screenplay and dialogues. And over successive projects, Neeraj has made a niche for himself as a writer whose words showcase a slice of life from an India far removed from cosmopolitan India.

Like in Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi – the filmmaking debut of actress-turned-director, Seema Pahwa, best known for her role as Badki in the Doordarshan drama, Hum Log.

Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is a family drama featuring the veritable who’s who of Indian alternative cinema and where Neeraj’s lyrics unravel a family’s dynamics after the death of the patriarch.

Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is scheduled to be released later this year.

“My background – having lived in Delhi and Bihar – has helped me establish myself as a writer who is comfortable with language and a story set in that part of the world. Like in Tryst with Destiny where the story is set in Uttar Pradesh and required nuances in Bhojpuri which is my mother tongue,” the 31-year-old says.

Prashant Nair, who directed some of the episodes of the runaway hot OTT hit Made in Heaven, was also all praise for Neeraj’s skills as a writer.

“Neeraj adapts very well to the specific needs of a project. He can write very colourful dialogue if required or then, as with Tryst, very functional ultra-realistic dialogue. This was helpful in an anthology film where the characters come from such different backgrounds,” he says.

Neeraj was also roped into to write the lyrics for ‘Bhai re’, a promotional song for the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful bilingual (Hindi, Malayalam) crime drama Moothon that was sung by Vishal Dadlani.

Neeraj has also co-produced a film, Aani Maani, which was screened at MAMI 2019 under “India Story” section. The Fahim Irshad-directed film was the winner of NETPAC Award for best Asian film and best debut director from India at International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

Apart from being a lyricist and screenwriter, Neeraj is also a poet, and often shares his poems on social media. The eagle-eyed might has also spotted him in popular web series like Chacha Vidhayak Hain Hamare, Mirzapur and most recently, Hasmukh where he plays a television reporter.

Currently Neeraj is busy writing for a relationship drama for an OTT platform, alongside writing his own film.