By: Joginder Tuteja, IndiaFM
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
An Amitabh Bachchan project is always bound to make news. And when you have the director of 'Jhankaar Beats', Sujoy Ghosh, at the helm, the expectations are manifold. After all not many directors share such good reputation in the industry to bag a prestigious project when your last film [in this case Home Delivery] has been lynched by one and all.
We trace an elated storyteller all the way in UK to hear him talk about his film, its superb star-cast that comprises of not just Big B but also Sanjay Dutt and Ritesh Deshmukh.
Sujoy, there has been news about you being signed up by Rohan Sippy for a film with Big B. Is that true?
Congrats, that's indeed great news. Can you divulge a little more about the film?
It's a children's film I have been working on and tentatively titled Aladin and the Mystery of the Lamp. It's my version of the age old story.
So how did Amitabh Bachchan come into the project? Also what made you think about roping him for a character like this?
[Sounds excited] I wrote the script predominantly to work with him. There is no way I am going to be a Hindi film director and not work with Mr. Bachchan. He is the film school I always wanted to attend. And I would have kept writing till I got to work with him.
Mr. Bachchan is the genie of the lamp. A character called Genius. The coolest person this side of the universe and the other! As for the 'fit' of the character... I cannot think of anybody else.
But weren't you apprehensive whether he would agree to this or not?
Definitely! And that's why we worked very hard on the script and the production. If you want the best of the actors, you have to show him the best as well. Thankfully he liked what he heard and agreed.
There are also talks that Abhishek plays an important role too. Is that true?
He did play an important role in putting in a good word for me with his dad. I owe him one for that. But in the film? I'm not too sure... yet!
When did you actually start working on this film?
Long ago! It took a while because it's very tough to write a children's film.
Didn't the non-success of Home Delivery rattle you before embarking on a film like this?
[Says with a matter of fact] It did. But one can't afford to stay rattled for too long. At the end of the day I have a family to feed. So wallowing in self pity doesn't help!
Though the critics lashed out on Home Delivery, the Sujoy Ghosh touch of 'Jhankar Beats' was still visible in the film. What do you thing went wrong?
I think it was the style of storytelling. Somewhere I alienated the audience. But then again, as a filmmaker I will always attempt something new. That is my job description. Now whether it goes the Jhankaar way or the Home Delivery way, time shall tell.
In your new film, have you decided to change your style of direction or would it still bear your stamp?
I hope you get to see something new. Because that's what films are all about. For me a film should be visually new and exciting. It should take you to a world you have never been before and never let you forget it. Therein lies the challenge. Other than that one might as well listen to the radio.
How did Rohan Sippy come in the picture? Were there any other producers that you approached for the project before you met Rohan?
[Laughs] Rohan, for some insane reason, maintained his faith in me, even after Home Delivery. Most ran, Rohan stayed! And he speaks the same language as me which is very important. He is a buddy.
How difficult was it to cope with the changed perceptions of the industry after 'Home Delivery'?
It was difficult. But these things happen... shit happens! It's totally cool, you need to learn and move on.
With an announcement of a biggie like this, have you seen any change of outlook from the industry?
Not yet. And I am not holding my breath either!
Coming back to the film itself, how do you plan to shoot the film? Will it be a live action or a mix of animation and live?
Live action with huge dollops of special effects! Ideally it should be like eating ice-cream with your eyes.
What's the budget that you have planned for the film?
Errrr.. kind of LARGISH!
Apart from Big B, which are the other principal characters in the film and who would be playing them?
Ah finally you ask the question... there is my other icon in the movie as well... Mr. Sanjay Dutt... This movie is my wish coming true. Mr. Dutt plays this HUGE larger than life character... and he is great fun. One of the best human beings to have around you. And there is Riteish Deshmukh. RD is a buddy so it's cool to have him around. We intend to have fun. And there are two heroines yet to be cast.
When does the film's shooting begin and when can we expect it to hit the theatres?
Next year the shoot begins. And summer 2008 you should see it.
Any actors from 'Jhankaar Beats' and 'Home Delivery' that you plan to rope in for this film?
I will definitely run to Juhi Chawla once. Then it's her decision.
Are Vishal-Shekhar going to be roped in again? After all they gave some fantastic score in both your earlier films!
[Says with a certain mischief in his tone] Unfortunately yes. The music will be by Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Gungunani (Gungunani was a funny character in Home Delivery)!
When one looks at a film like this, it is bound to be compared with numerous comic books, animation series, films etc. that have been made in nothing less than Hollywood. Does the competition factor scare you?
It does but then again... that's the solemn pact with Rohan. We do not compromise on the film. The first sign of compromise and we gracefully shelve the film. We will put our best foot forward and hopefully you will see a film on par with any films in its genre. And it's good to be challenged... bring it on.
But then how different can you actually go here?
For one, you see every single such film in the genre and make sure that whatever you have in your film has never been seen before. Be it the content or the style. And that what should set you apart.
Where do you plan to shoot the film?
The hunt is on. But nothing firmed yet.
So when do you come back to India and start the proceedings?
Well, looking forward to the film Sujoy! We are sure you would be making something trendsetting!
Thank you. Trendsetting I don't know. But good film? It better be!!!