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.