Leena Yadav: “Doing A Moulin Rouge In Chandni Chowk”

 In her fourth  film  which interestingly has  a food-based title Rajma Chawal, director Leena Yadav has cast Rishi Kapoor and  newcomer Anirudh Tiwari in a  father-son conflict drama set  in old Delhi
Leena can’t stop raving about Rishi Kapoor. “He is a source  of inspiration for all of us. It has been such a  joy working with him. He has  understood and  interpreted  his character with rare and immediate  understanding.Rishiji has been so  patient shooting in the  crowded gullies of Chandni Chowk. At first we  needed to put up signs to warn  the crowds of our shooting. Now they’ve taken to us as though they’re shooting a film with us rather than the other way around.”

Food has been a constant on the location of Rajma Chawal, “We are constantly eating . There is food everywhere, and all the time.We can’t get away from it. Rishiji  grumblesgoodnaturedly about his weight. But we know he’s having a good time,” says  the  director of the  highly-acclaimed Parched  which was photographed by the renowned Russel Carpenter.

Says Leena, “You will be happy to know Rajma Chawal is being  shot by another  world-renowned cinematographer  Donald McAlpine who has shot Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Julietand Moulin Rouge. We’re doing a  Moulin Rouge in Chandni Chowk.”

Leena’s husband  Aseem Bajaj  is  a brilliant cinematographer . And yes he’s associated withRajma Chawal.

“He is  the producer  of Rajma Chawal. If he wasn’t(the producer) he’d be doing thecinemtography of my film.”

Leena who began her  directorial career with the unorthodox Aishwarya Bachchan-SanjayDutt-Zayed Khan love triangle Shabd went  on to do Teen Pattti with Amitabh Bachchan and , ahem, Ben Kingsley.

“I guess I’ve been fortunate  with  my casting from the beginning. That good fortune continues .In Rajma Chawal I’ve Rishi Kapoor who is  an incredible actor. And  yes, I’ve introduced a new actor Annirudh Tanwar as  his son,” says Leena who introduced ShraddhaKapoor in Teen Patti. The film is essentially a father-son drama about the generation gap and communication has diminished  in the era  of   instant linkups like twitter and whatsapp.

 Leena’s last film Parched a stunning study of misogyny and female empowerment in ruralRajasthan , fetched her a rare encomium. No fear  of  competing with herself?

“You mean,  do I fear not being able to equal the power  of Parched? No , not at all. It’s important to move on. I’ve deliberately chosen a completely different location ,theme and conflict in Rajma Chawal. And  yes,  I’ve moved away  from a conflict  involving women protagonists to  a film that has men at its  centre.”

Coincidentally Leena’s entire team  for Rajma Chawal comprises men.

“Yes, it was not intentional. But while shooting Parched about female protagonists  I had a predominantly female crew.Now when I am shooting Rajma Chawal with male protagonists my crew is masculine,” laughs Leena.

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