Director Sujoy Ghosh couldn’t be in a better place. And I mean that literally. He is in Kolkata when I speak to him.
“The city speaks to me and I speak to it. The kind of acceptance I get from Kolkata is gratifying, and not only because I’m a Bengali. It has more to do with the way I capture the city. Now my Badla has opened to great reviews in Kolkata, and I feel so at home here,” sigh the laidback director whose last few films have been boxoffice disappointments.
“Look, everyone expects me to make Kahaani every time. It’s like one child in family getting all the attention .Arrey,I’ve to give the same attention to all my children. I am equally proud f all my films,” says Sujoy.
Badla which has opened to heartening boxoffice collections is a remake of a Spanish film.Or, so we were told.
Sujoy has another story to tell. “Badla is not a remake of the Spanish film Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest). But I read the script which was given to me by my producer Sunir Khetrapal and the one and only Tapsee Pannu.”
The writer of the original film Oriol Paulo wanted Sujoy to read the script. “Yes Oriol Paulo sent the script.When I read it I was jealous of another man’s creativity for the first time. Shit, why didn’t I write this?”
From that point of envy Sujoy built his own case . “The same script would be made into completely different films by Manmohan Desai and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. It’s like the city of Kolkata. My Kolkata is very different from Shoojit Sircar or Srijit Mukerjee’s Kolkata. I took the idea of the original and turned it around. I changed the gender of the two protagonists. Mr Bachchan was always on board.I can’t think of making any film without him.”
(Sujoy is the third director after Manmohan Desai and R Balki to tell me that).
“Tapsee came in later…maddening, fascinating Tapsee…what can I say about her? Her silences say so much.She is not afraid of being quiet on camera.She can say so much without speaking.And she is so not overawed by Mr Bachchan. I don’t think Badla would have happened without Tapsee,” raves the smitten director.
So is Tapsee Pannu the new Vidya Balan in Sujoy Ghosh’s life? “Woh toh mushqil hai.Balan Balan.She is irreplaecable in my life.Not that I’m comparing myself with him….. But Satyajit Ray made great films with Sharmila Tagore. But no one could take Madhabi Mukherjee’s place in his cinema.”
(For those who came in late Vidya Balan was Ghosh’s heroine in the pathbreaking Kahaani and its sequel and yes, he calls her ‘Balan’).
Badla with its sophisticated sheen and polished interiors seems designed for elitist viewing.
This is where Sujoy turns violently protestant. “No no not at all! I’d never want my cinema to be restricted by its theme and treatment. My mother is a full-on Total Dhamaal kind of audience. I’d howl in rage and grief if my mother didn’t like Badla. I’d want the same audience that loved Total Dhamaal to come for my cinema.”