New Delhi — Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa had a limited budget, a small crew and an absconding leading man when they set out to make “Katiyabaaz,” a National Award-winning documentary that explores the power crisis in Kanpur with dollops of humor.

For Mustafa, it was a homecoming of sorts as he spent his childhood in the city, but he found it hard to explain to his family and friends why he wanted to make a documentary on this subject.

"So many people including my parents said, ‘What is there to show about power crisis? We have it every day. Why do you have to go to Kanpur to shoot it?’ I think we are very used to the problem. But what most people don’t realize is that we are living through the biggest energy crisis that the country has ever faced," Mustafa said.

Told through two protagonists — Loha Singh, a “katiyabaaz,” and Ritu Maheshwari, an IAS officer in Kanpur — the documentary features their battle to outsmart each other while the city of Kanpur reels through its biggest power crisis.

It was not all smooth sailing for the director duo as Mustafa recalls they were set to shoot with a different “katiyabaaz” who never turned up.

"He decamped at the last moment. The first crew had come from Austria. They were already in town and everybody was waiting to shoot but he was never to be found. Then a family friend introduced us to Loha Singh. They both used to drink together in the ‘desi theka.’ Loha is a maverick," Mustafa said.

The film has found a presenter in “Lootera” director Vikramaditya Motwane as it hits theatres Aug. 22 through Phantom Pictures and Globalistan Films.

When asked how Phantom came onboard, Kakkar said Motwane loved their film during a special screening in Mumbai and things started moving from there.

"After watching the film, he (Motwane) wrote to us to congratulate us and said they would like to help. Mustafa later showed the film to Anurag (Kashyap) and he also liked the film. It was a godsend for us because they are a director’s company and understand that for young directors their first project comes with many challenges," Kakkar said.

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