Friday, March 24, 2006
Banaras is the oldest living city in the world. There is a certain mystic quality about this place which has a magical effect on everyone who visits it. This is the very quality that producer L.C.Singh has tried to explore, through the medium of his film, Banaras. His film is about a mystic romance set in the holy city. The first time producer promises that this is one film that will stay with the audience for a long, long time...
First and foremost, tell us, why is the film titled Banaras?
Because the film could have been made only in Banaras. It's a mystic love story. The whole setting is in Banaras and it could not be anywhere else. The name itself has a mystic quality to it.
What is the film about?
I believe that it is quite a departure from the usual genres that we see. We wanted to give a message to the young audience. We wanted to do it in a dramatic yet entertaining fashion. This film can't fit into a particular genre. The most modern technicians have come to the oldest living city on the planet for the purpose of the film.
Tell us something about the story.
It is a very contemporary story. The daughter of the richest Brahmin family, Urmila falls for a mystical musician, Ashmit. Ashmit has been brought up on the ghats by a sweeper. You can imagine the social stigmas in a place like Banaras. Because the place is Banaras, the resulting consequences are very unpredictable. You must see the rest!
How did you decide on Urmila Matondkar as your female lead?
We wanted star performers. Only performers would make it an art film. Only stars would make it a pot boiler. We wanted someone who had a star attraction as well as someone who could perform well. So Urmila fit the bill of the female lead, perfectly. She has quite a transformation in the film. The range of emotions that she was supposed to play was very challenging. When she read the script, she was very amazed.
Ashmit Patel is quite an unusual choice. Why did you decide to cast him?
We actually signed him on just a week before the film started. We were actually looking for somebody with very soft eyes and a sympathetic face. We were considering bigger stars but we found him to be the best choice. I think this film will be a turn of events for Ashmit Patel.
We will be seeing Dimple Kapadia after a long gap...
I think this is one of the most critical roles of her career. There was a particular sequence which she kept on postponing because it was quite tough. It required a lot of preparation. Finally, when she did the sequence, we could see the relief on her face. If someone like Dimple Kapadia thought that the role was so tough, you can imagine how challenging it was. Raj Babbar, too is one of the finest actors. He plays the role of a father. He is not a typical father. He has to deal with many situations. I personally think his performance is commendable. Akash Khurana is a method actor. He plays a psychiatrist in the film. I saw him on the set. He was so consumed with the character that he didn't even talk to anybody.
You managed to assemble such a big star cast together. Was it difficult?
We took a lot of time because it was essential that for a role like this, we get the perfect star cast. All of them are extremely performance driven roles. Nobody even slaps anyone in the film. Yet you will be able to see violence in the mind of the characters. I believe that actual violence takes place in the mind. You can actually learn a lot from the emotional violence in the film.
Why did you decide to sign Pankaj Parasher to direct this film?
He has been a friend of mine since really long. I needed someone who understood what I was talking about. He was the only choice. I knew he was the best person for the job. Technically too, the film has turned out to be great. Visually, the film has a very large canvas.
Did you have to make a lot of changes in the script?
When I gave Javed Siddiqui the first draft, he told me it's a treatment movie. All the characters have shades, just like people in real life. In real life, there are no perfect people. Everyone has shades. In this film the same characters become heroes as well as villains. You will see a very refined story. When we finally shot the film, it was the 14th draft of the script.
Himesh Reshammiya who has done the music of the film is on a major career high. How does his music suit this film?
I think his respect will grow many folds after this film. When we were discussing the film, Himesh told me that he was creating music for the next 25 years! He used the classic ragas in a contemporary way. Mysticism and music go hand in hand. We also have Sivamani who worked on the music and Sameer who wrote the lyrics. A lot of people have devoted their experiences to this film. The lyrics bring out the essence of Banaras. We ensured that the best of the people were a part of this film and also that they were challenged. The mysticism is not restricted to the characters of Urmila and Ashmit. Banaras itself is the love story of Lord Shiva on earth.
Tell the audience why they should watch the film.
It will be a mystical experience. I believe that after watching the movie, you will think about it for at least two days.
Lastly, what next, after Banaras?
This is the first film that I have produced. Let's see how this goes. It's been a big learning experience for me. I'll take it as it comes. I enjoy nothing more than learning new things. My biggest reward so far has been that I learnt so much.