Prembabu Sharma

Gitanjali Creations recently unveiled the first looks of their upcoming Bollywood movie, YEH KHULA AASMAAN, which portrays the extremely challenging phase of an IIT-aspirant young boy on the verge of succumbing to academic failures, and highlights the value of strong familial system to help nurse bruised young minds. Bridging generation gaps, the film is inspired from a true story about the resilience of human spirit and how it prevails over life’s challenges if family support systems are in place. While 90 per cent of the film has been shot in Bihar’s picturesque Bhagalpur, the rest has been shot in Mumbai. Gitanjali Creations also announced its tie-up with Saga Music as the music distribution partner for the movie. Saga Music has been steadily strengthening its foothold into Bollywood.

Present on the occasion were director Gitanjali Sinha and producer Hemendra Aran along with actors Raghubir Yadav, Yashpal Sharma and debutants Raj Tandon and Anya Anand. Representing today’s youth and the academic pressures they face, YEH KHULA AASMAAN has also launched India’s first ever online motivational game. The game has been conceptualized to boost the confidence and encourage today’s youth for a better future. And that’s not all — a digitized motion poster of the film was also unveiled on the occasion.

YEH KHULA AASMAAN (The Open Sky) features international award winning veteran Bollywood and theater artist Raghubir Yadav playing the quintessential grandfather (Dadu), who has earlier given versatile performances in movies like Lagaan, Peepli (Live), Salaam Bombay!, Dil Se…, Delhi 6, Water, 1942: A Love Story, Maya Memsaab, and others, besides his fondly remembered lead roles in the blockbuster TV serials Mungeri Lal Ke Haseen Sapne, Mulla Naseeruddin and Chacha Chaudhary. Raghubir Yadav is the only Indian actor to have received the Silver Peacock Best Actor Award at IFFI. Playing Raghubir’s son, and the busy NRI father of the chief protagonist of the movie, is another NSD prodigy, Yashpal Sharma, who earlier mesmerized audiences with his rave performances in Bollywood superhits such as Lagaan, Hazaroon Khwaishein Aisi, Yeh Saali Zindagi, Aarakshan, Sankat City, Arjun Pandit, Bawandar, Ganga Jal, Ab Tak Chhappan, Apharan, Singh is Kinng, Pukar and many more, besides having acted in the popular TV serials like C.I.D. and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma.

The movie is the directorial debut of the young and multi-talented Gitanjali Sinha, who trained at the New York Film Academy, USA, St. Martin’s College of Arts, London, and at Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods Film Institute in Mumbai, and always been passionate about making meaningful cinema. Says Gitanjali Sinha, “Despite having one of the biggest film industries in the world, India produces very few truly world-class mainstream movies that are meaningful, wholesome and linger in the mind long after the curtains are drawn. Ever since returning to India, I have always aspired to make meaningful movies that foster good cinema and are somewhere in the middle of pure masala entertainers or pure art movies. The tremendous response for YEH KHULA AASMAAN at various film festivals is testimony that the audiences will find the movie entertaining as well as motivational for the entire family.”

Even before its commercial release in May, the much-anticipated movie has been creating ripples in international cinephile circles bagging top honors at several international film festivals including the Best Foreign Feature Film at All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival, and the Kids First! Film and Video Festival in USA. The film has also been appreciated and selected at International Film Festival in South Africa, International Film Festival in Ireland, International Youth Film Festival, UK and Heart of England International Film Festival. Back home, the movie also received a standing ovation at the Haryana Film Festival.

Raghubir Yadav, who plays the role of a former best kite-runner in the movie, and teaches his grandson the lessons of life using metaphors and messages from a kite soaring high and spreading cheer, says, “In his book Outliers, inspirational author Malcolm Gladwell cites an example of a study by Dr. Stewart Wolf on European immigrant Rosetans, who, despite their improper dietary habits, were far healthier than the rest of the Americans simply because of the extended family clans underlying their powerful, protective social structure that insulated them from the pressures of the modern world. Similarly, in India too, we have traditionally had a strong joint family system, but unfortunately, that is fast paving way for nuclear families not only in metros but also in Tier II & III cities. This is resulting in collapse of our entire Indian value system that helps us tide through the hardships of life. YEH KHULA AASMAAN depicts the power of human relationships above all material aspects of life, in uniting three generations to overcome great emotional trauma.”

Produced by Hemendra Aran of Gitanjali Creations, who himself is an alumnus of prestigious IIT and London School of Business, the movie also features Raj Tandon, playing the role of Raghibir Yadav’s grandson, Avinash. His father, Kailash’s, role is played by Yashpal Sharma while Manjusha Godse plays the mother, Rama. The film also debuts Anya Anand as Muskaan. Kishor Nadalskar, Nitin Kerur, Aditya Sidhu and Gulshan Pandey have also acted in the movie. The exceptional background music has vocals from Kunal Ganjawala, Suresh Wadekar, Swapnil Bandodkar, Gayatri Ganjawala, Soham and Amey Daate. Raghuvir Yadav also lends his voice to the song — Ur fur kar udti jaaye, titli si masti mein — to explain how the kite, in spite of all obstacles in its path, keeps on flying.

Commenting on their partnership with the upcoming movie, Mr. Alipt Bhatia, Business Head of Saga Music said, “We have always been passionate about promoting movies that are meaningful and strong in their content value, irrespective of budget. We are excited to partner with Gitanjali Creations to promote a movie that bridges emotional distances through simple yet powerful messages woven through soul-stirring music showcasing India’s culture and its rich heritage.” Unisys Infosolutions has been roped in as the exclusive worldwide digital distribution partner for promoting the movie on popular online portals and mobile platforms.

In the YEH KHULA AASMAAN online motivational game, the player needs to fly a kite and reach as high as possible in their journey while avoiding the negative obstacles of life and collecting the important positive aspects. Every player is a winner in this game, communicating the message that participation is more important than victory. Talking about the same, actor Yashpal Sharma said, “While a few Bollywood films in the past have conceptualized online games to utilize the digital platform as a film promotional medium, YEH KHULA AASMAAN’s game is one-of-a-kind with its primary aim being to address the important societal issue of academic stress on students. One needs to move on from explaining a particular situation and come up with solutions. We are trying to make a small difference through this motivational game which I consider to be a brilliant idea.”

Raj Tandon, marking his debut with this film said, “I consider myself extremely lucky to be part of YEH KHULA AASMAAN. I was travelling by bus when Gitanjali Sinha spotted me in a chance encounter and I was finalized for the film. Also, being a technology lover myself, I think the YEH KHULA AASMAAN game and digital motion poster look really cool.” Another debutante, 17 year old Anya Anand added, “I believe that competition is great, as long as it’s healthy and done in moderation. I could easily relate to the story of the film, considering I have seen some of my peers go through the same pressure. If we are able to make a difference to even one youngster like me out there, I think we have achieved our goal through this film.”