Home Bollywood Priya Samant: How an impact consultant helped The Kashmir Files, The Kerala Story | Bollywood

Priya Samant: How an impact consultant helped The Kashmir Files, The Kerala Story | Bollywood

by Joe Bourn

A technician assisted two of the most popular and highest-grossing Hindi films we’ve seen in the last two years. Priya Samant worked as an ‘impact consultant’ on Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files as well as Sudipto Sen’s The Kerala Story. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Priya talks about her work and her choice of films. (Also Read: The Kerala Story BO: The Movie Goes In 200 crore club, becomes ‘grosser of all time’)

Priya Samant says she is an “impact consultant for films like The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story.

Her journey as an impact consultant – a term and business she claims to have created – began with Brahmanand Singh’s 2019 film Jhalki. The national award winning director had approached Priya and asked her to organize an event in the US.

UK traffic delay

Talking about her recent project, The Kerala Story, Priya said, “When the film got delayed in the UK due to the censor board, I worked with communities in the UK to make sure it gets through. I helped them (sort of) and provided information where needed so that the UK censor would delete it. I made sure they had everything they needed. I wanted them to understand that this is not about religion, but about terrorism. That terrorism has no religion. You have to watch the movie before you make any judgments.”

Dealing with the authenticity of TKF, TKS

Priya has worked in two major Hindi films – The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story. Both have been accused of manipulating the death toll. Does it have a process to ensure it takes on projects that speak to authentic and real cases and are not propaganda?

“I believe in the vision of the filmmakers. What he has to bring to the table, especially for The Kerala Story. They have specifically stated that they will talk about the numbers when the time is right, so I won’t think about that part. For me it is important to believe in what they offer. I stand by everything I have said,” said Priya.

He added, “Every event we’ve done for The Kerala Story, we’ve had a guest speaker – from a lawyer working with survivors to a senior military officer. A third party talking about the subject makes it more authentic.”

He also said, “After The Kashmir Files, I got many offers but I didn’t accept them. They had to do a lot more drafts before I could join. Finally, I started The Kerala Story as it felt right.” He also revealed that he is now working with a female producer on a female-centric film and will be making films from scratch.

What does an impact consultant do?

Priya said, “The job of an impact consultant is to take the director’s vision, create global ambassadors to take his/her message across the world. To ensure that the communities affected by the issue connected with the message and the message reached beyond that.”

He also said that he “launched the concept of ‘impact consultant’ with Jhalki in 2019. It was also the time when I met Dr. Jayantilal Ghada. At that time he was working at Gul Makkai. They wanted me to help with that and since then, it’s been an upward trajectory.”

“I speak a lot in international forums – how to position entertainment as a key point of trade, and I have had upcoming film personalities like Sidharth Roy Kapur, AR Rahman, Nitesh Tiwari, Majid Majidi, Boman Irani Subhash Ghai and Rajshri. Deshpande as my panellists”.

Journalist vs. Impact Consultant

The job of a film’s publicity and marketing teams is also to ensure that a maximum number of people engage with the film, identify with the issues it raises and talk about it, and ultimately watch it. How is an impact consultant different?

Priya said, “PR and marketing are very much focused on a single area. I don’t know through what lens they view issues (related to the film). (I can talk about my work). Every film I’ve made, I’ve taken it through the lens of impact – the human aspect of the issue that’s raised in these films.”

Priya then remembered that she was working on The Kashmir Files. “I hosted a reception for Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus in the US Congress and people told their stories while the members of Congress listened to the community. Then I also spoke at a United Nations event about the importance of films like The Kashmir Files.”

Recalling that she was working on a tight schedule for The Kerala Story, Priya said, “We had limited time – the subject was global and the film focuses on cases only from Kerala. Even though Adah Sharma, Sudipto and the entire team were busy with their post-production and publicity, they would always be available. Whether it was 5 in the morning or 11 at night, they would be happy to be there.”

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