Vikash Verma’s Decision To Defer The Release Of “No Means No” Underpins His Unwavering Commitment To Audience Safety

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Vikash Verma, the director of one of the year’s most anticipated Indo-Polish action thriller “No Means No”, has given a strong demonstration that he is a man of action and great empathy. “Will release after my audience is safely vaccinated,” Verma famously said while announcing the postponement of his much-talked-about film which was originally scheduled to release worldwide on March 22, 2021. Verma, who had planned a grand premiere in both India and Poland as part of his grandiose promotion plan for the film, has set a fine example by choosing to put the public safety first.  At a time when filmmakers all across the globe are desperately trying to get the audiences back to the theatres, Verma’s decision to defer his highly anticipated film’s release would hopefully help set a new precedence. While it’s very important to bring back the audiences to the theatres, it is perhaps even more important to ensure that when they come to enjoy cinema they are fully protected and are at a minimal risk against the disease.  

Here it is important to understand that with the rising cases of COVID-19 and the safety restrictions that are in place, the multiplex cinema halls and single screens aren’t able to function to their full capacities. The theatres are either running far below their strength or are still not operational. Under the circumstances, Vikash Verma’s bold decision to delay the film’s release actually sends a very strong message which underpins one thing above everything else. That his commitment to his audience’s safety and well being surpasses the fear of incurring any losses due to the delay in releasing the film. “COVID-19 pandemic has taught so many new things. Presently, at many places, the lockdown and night curfew is still imposed. The way I see it the safety of human life is paramount. There is a still a risk of infection spreading amongst the crowds. As a result, theatres and multiplexes are not fully operational. Yes, the pandemic has been controlled but cases are still rising not only within the country but across the globe. Hopefully with vaccines being administrated to the people the world over we should help contain the virus. Only then the theatres can fully operate like before. I totally support the government policies which are taken best in best interests of humankind,” explains Verma.

Verma already conveyed the decision the Polish ambassador in India Adam Burakowski on the phone ahead of his meeting with the Consul General of the Republic of Poland Damian Irzyk in Mumbai. “Looking at the current situation and a lot of uncertainty on the basis of COVID-19 news published in the media, it was decided to postpone the release of the film, ‘No Means No’,” reveals Verma. “I eagerly pray and wait that once the entire course of COVID-19 vaccinations is complete and things simmer down we will release the film. I am sure this film will also win the hearts of all the audiences too,” added Verma. The releases of various other major international releases including “Jurassic World: Dominion”, “Fast and Furious 9”.

The first ever Indo-Polish film, “No Means No” is majorly shot in the hitherto unexplored exotic locales of Poland such as the breathtakingly beautiful Zywiecczyzna region, Bielsko-Biala, Szczyrk and Zwardon. The film will introduce Poland to the Indian audiences and is expected to boost tourism and further reinforce the culture connection between India and Poland. Bielsko Biala, also known as Little Vienna, is a stunning town situated in southern Poland. Vikash Verma’s creative decision to base a large part of ‘No Means No’ here will go a long way in putting Bielsko Biala in the limelight for the rest of the world after mostly remaining away from the public attention for a better part of the last century.

With so many things working in his favor, Vikash Verma certainly has his eyes on something big. He is well poised to achieve for India and Poland with “No Means No” what the legendary Raj Kapoor achieved for India and Russia with his films. What makes “No Means No” really unique is that it is shot simultaneously in three languages viz. English, Hindi and Polish through which Verma endeavors to weave a socio-cultural, religious, and bilateral connect between India and Poland through a love story.

“No Means No” revolves around an Indian man (essayed by debutant actor Dhruv Verma) who visits Poland to participate in a ski championship and ends up falling in love with a Polish woman. The film’s ensemble cast includes the likes of Gulshan Grover, Sharad Kapoor, Nazia Hassan, Deep Raj Rana, and Kat Kristian from India, alongside Natalia Bak, Sylwia Czech, Anna Guzik, Pawel Czech, Anna Ador, and Jersey Handzlik from Poland. The playback singers for the big-budget action-adventure include the legendary Hariharan and Shreya Ghoshal. The film’s music team also includes the likes of Rishav Nagh and the ‘Indian Idol’ Judge Arvinder Singh.

Produced by G7 Films Poland, “No Means No” with its breathtaking cinematography brilliantly capturing snow-clad mountains and picturesque vistas provide a hitherto unseen glimpse into the life in Poland. The lead actor Dhruv Verma underwent rigorous training to prepare himself for the role. He spent months in Poland mastering the Israeli fighting style Krav Maga, developed for the army, and Jyrki Sario Defendo, the defensive fighting style developed for the European police, from his guru Bartek Dobrowolski. He also undertook a specially tailored course in gun shooting in addition to the training he received from Sanjay Dutt in disarming and shooting techniques. He also mastered the techniques of 17 different handguns, rifles and shotguns from other maestros at the Strzelnica Gun Club in Bielsko Biala, Poland. He also learnt dancing from the legendary Shiamak Davar.

The trailer as well as the first look of “No Means No” was launched on March 3. Since its release it had received a tremendous response with the critics as well as the fans praising it. The film’s trailer has already received the best trailer award. Several Bollywood actors, filmmakers, critics, trade analysts, diplomats, and politicians have also showered their praise.

Vikash Verma is also making another movie titled “The Good Maharaja”, which will be based on Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja, the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, Gujarat. In the pre-Independence era, the Maharaja provided shelter and education to around 1,000 Polish children evacuated from the USSR to escape German bombings during World War II. Verma during his extensive research came to discover that the Polish government had installed a statue of the Maharaja in their Parliament and a road had been named after him. However, this is not known to many people in India. One hopes that Verma’s upcoming film will go a long way in making the Maharaja’s contribution to the whole world. The titular role of the Maharaja will be essayed by Sanjay Dutt in the film.

Watch the trailer of “No Means No” here

A version of this article was first published in Transcontinental Times.

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