Monday, March 13, 2006
He is one of those few new age filmmakers, who believe in their craft. Director Homi Adjania is ready to shock Bollywood with a black comedy, Being Cyrus. The movie has already been appreciated in international film festivals. IndiaFM spoke to the director on his craft, star cast and the works...
What is the film Being Cyrus about?
Being Cyrus is very bizarre chapter in the protagonist, Cyrus's life, played by Saif Ali Khan. He is narrating chapter to us. It spans over two years where he lands up at the Sethna family, at Naseer's doorstep. Naseer plays Dinshaw Sethna. The film is about what happens after he enters their life. He lives with them and realizes that whatever seems normal is not normal at all. Everyone in the family has their own agenda, which is very bizarre and they want to use Cyrus as a pond to fulfill that.
How did the movie happen?
I didn't really think too much about it. I was quite arrogantly writing a book that time. Kercy Kambata came up with the short story, which was rejected by a publication house because its language was quite strong. He showed it to me. I read it and thought that it would be my first film.
The backdrop of this movie seems Parsi. Is it a Parsi movie?
It's not at all a parsi movie. I mean the context is of the parsi family. But it was written like that, I didn't change the story. It was about the parsi family. It could have been any family if not parsi. And I can endorse the fact that we showed it everywhere from Israel to France, to the varied audiences and they got it immediately. They don't even know, who the parsis are. Because it's such universal story and I wanted to stay away from whole cultural and religious part of it. I intentionally made sure that the characters speak how we are speaking now. I don't want them to speak in the caricature parsi accent. Otherwise it becomes a stereotype which I didn't want. The production design and costumes are very parsi but its not representatives of parsis at all.
Saif relates to the commercial cinema. How and why did you chose Saif for such off beat movie?
I had seen Saif in Dil Chahta Hai following which I met him twice. As soon as I met him I couldn't think of anyone except Saif. I couldn't find anyone who can be better than Saif. He has an incredible sensibility. He understood the character immediately. He had a difficult character because all the other characters are boldly defined. Whereas Saif and Cyrus are almost ambiguous. He had to internalize everything because throughout the film he is trying to figure himself out and so is the audience. And as soon as I narrated the script to Saif, he realized that less, is more. I don't think I would have asked any one to do this film.
What about Naseeruddin Shah and Boman Irani?
I actually went with the script to Boman Irani. He read the first draft he loved it. I went back, hammered it out for month, then went back to him with an updated draft. His character is socially inapt. He is just someone, whom you don't want meet on the road. He is angry. He is a bully outside, but actually a coward from inside.
Naseer's character used to be a very famous sculptor at one point of time and before fame hit him, he left it all and became a recluse. He is a complete stoner, who lives in his own world. He has own opinion on his small world, where he lives. He does not want any communication with the outside world. And that leads to the Dimple, who plays his wife. She just hates the fact that she is married. She regrets it. She prefers not being married. They live far away from Bombay in the hills of Panchgani. Just the two of them live in a huge house. They have no communication between themselves and she is permanently nagging him. She is someone, who is bumbling flat footed woman. She considers herself to be very sexy. The idea of her character is to annoy the audience and she has done a damn good job.
How did you manage to accumulate such a big cast?
I went to each actor and narrated the script and they had no apprehensions. In fact, they gave inputs. I think every actor who is interested in his or her craft wants to get out of the box.
How was your experience working with them?
It was an absolute joy working with them. All of them are thorough professionals. Once they understand your sensibility, they all work 200%. They all were part of building the script. It was a 36 day schedule which we finished in 32 days. I think that reflects a certain labor of love, where everyone was so involved. We managed to work so efficiently.
Boman has his own image of a comedian. Do you think people will accept him in this role?
I think Boman is an actor foremost. As an actor I knew what his talent is. He has been slotted in a range of comic roles but since I know his range. I mean, I know his range is more than that and because he was involved from the beginning, he could deliver his best. His character is comic in this movie, though it has a dark shade. That's what the black comedy is about. Flipping over the dark side is actually seeing the humorous part of it. And because he was an inherent part from the early stages, I allowed him to improvise on certain scenes.
Saif is on a high right now. Do you think that will ensure a good opening?
I don't have much knowledge of how the business of movies works. But I am sure that the whole cast will help. I mean even though it's a different and original story, the movie has managed to generated lot of interest. I think it will help the film.
The movie has already received good reviews in international festival What do you expect from Indian audience?
I think our Indian audiences have evolved with the evolution of the multiplex culture and I think they want something different. It's time to start respecting our audiences. You cannot expect them to keep coming back and continuing with their passion for cinema if you are not going to give them anything passionate. And Being Cyrus is very different in form of its narrative style and structure. It is black comedy that we are not use to here.
Why did you choose to start with an offbeat film?
I would not have consciously decided to do this kind of cinema. The story is the most important thing and if I get an original good story, I would make it. It does not matter if it's a commercial Hindi film or any other kind. I think the language of cinema is pretty universal and as long as the story excites me I would definite go for it.
I have got two screenplays. One has been co-written by Narayan Mani, which is a Hindi period film. The other is an English film, which is based in the pre 60's Goa, in a small catholic village. These are two films, which are co-written by me. I just feel there are so many brilliant stories in India itself. I really don't know why we look for inspirations elsewhere. I don't believe that there is a dearth of writers, since this country is full of beautiful stories. But somehow they don't seem to come to your door! Lets see ...may be hopefully after this film writers will come up with original scripts.