LSD at the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF)
It's a great way for me to satisfy my curiosity. We, the makers of alternative films in India hope for one thing and one thing only - We hope to get the world audiences for our kind of films. When I visit London, I want to find out whether we do have a world audience or not, and if so, are they interested in Indian cinema. By Indian cinema, I don't mean Bollywood. Bollywood for me is a show. It's like saying that Broadway is American theatre. Broadway is Broadway. Bollywood is Bollywood.
World cinema audience
LSD was never made for an international audience. LSD was made for an Indian audience. By chance, its technique and style has certain things which can be of some interest for the international cinema going audience. I don't know anything about the world cinema audience. Looking at the response coming after the screening at LIFF in London, it'll be my second step towards understanding whether LSD fitted that audience or not.
LSD in Munich
The Munich Film Festival was amazing. It was our first step. There, the reception was mind bogglingly encouraging because we had 99% German audience. Most of them had not seen any Indian film before. They were not the kind of people who'd come to see a Bollywood film for a novelty value because they see such films on their TV channels and on DVDs. They know what Bollywood is. They came to see LSD because it was a part of the film festival which is known for its select few films. The Germans said that this was the first film of its kind that they had seen evolve from India. They couldn't have imagined that such kind of films exist in India. They were impressed with the acting too. For an alien culture to understand that someone is acting well, says a lot of things. I got my answer though - The human story and the cultural aspects of the film got them connected to LSD.
Peepli Live and Lafangey Parindey
Dibakar Banerjee will watch both these film, why not? The interesting thing about India is that there is no subculture. The audience which make LSD a hit is the same audience which makes 3 Idiots a hit too. In Europe, it's a slightly different kind of a segmentation, where the art house cinema has a separate audience and a separate business model altogether. In India, my small budget film competes with another film which has a budget ten times that of my film and plays in the same theatre with the same hoarding space and pulls me out. In a way, there is no segmentation in India. So I will see both Peepli Live and Lafangey Parindey.
Balaji Motion Pictures
I am a businessman and that's the whole solution. I know that my kind of films needs to work doubly hard financially and to sustain itself. Let me tell you, I didn't approach Balaji for LSD. They approached me on my strengths of Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye. Both were commercially viable. My reputation in Balaji was that Dibakar makes slightly different films but they make commercial sense. Whereas, the fraternity thinks that Dibakar Banerjee is absolutely miser with budgets. Balaji thought that I'd be doing my next film with big stars with budget constraints. But I told Balaji an idea which costs 200,000 US $ which was very interesting. So when I narrated the story to Ekta, I could see that she didn't have any doubts in her mind and from her eyes, you could tell that LSD was a film already made. She knew how the film was treated. LSD was a provocative film for all. LSD is the most investment friendly film I've ever made.
Ad films v/s Feature films
Ad filmmakers are slightly more creative in their technical virtuosity with visuals, post production, colours and all. Ad films have to grab your attention in thirty seconds and therefore the visual aspects and sound aspects have to be very well developed. Because of the lack of duration, they don't get time to develop the character, product, or connectivity sometimes. So it's a hit and miss types. Most of the ad filmmakers like, Sir Ridley Scott, Shyam Benegal, etc have done well for themselves in feature films.
For most of the audience in India, LSD would've been an entertaining film. For me, it was a true life story. Yes, true life stories of thousands, who want to do things their way, their style. And that's when they experience Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (betrayal). The film mirrors what many go through in their day to day lives. But the film's true test is just a day away when LSD opens at the London Indian Film Festival (July 15). Banerjee will be walking the red carpet along with one of his leading men from LSD, Anshuman Jha. An interview which could've lasted the usual ten to fifteen minutes went into forty five minutes of film discussions, debates and trivia. And that's what describes Dibakar. He is an alternate person in our film fraternity making alternative cinema and with no alternate route to go, he comes back to what he believes in - cinema, films, and movies. Wanting to know how LSD will fare at the festival, the director asks questions. He looks like a young Woody Allen, except that he is taller than him. But here's what makes him one - he believes in his type of cinema, he believes that our Indian films should find the world audience and that Bollywood, just like Hollywood, is a show; a show where entertainment thrives on the big screen and at the box office. This special correspondent brings you the exclusive Part 1 of the two part series on Dibakar Banerjee's quest for cinema and more.