Shabd was Leena Yadav"s debut directorial venture. Since then, for four years, she has been away from the limelight. That, however, doesn"t mean that she has taken retirement from direction. She was preparing to come back with something bigger. Now, she is all set to unveil that surprise. Indeed, we are talking about her latest release Teen Patti that has versatile stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Ben Kingsley.
The movie exploits the human dramas through mathematics and gambling, which takes the imagination to an altogether new level. Leena Yadav, in a candid interview, reveals the nature of Teen Patti...
From where did you draw the idea of the movie Teen Patti?
I wanted to do something for the youth. Along the way, I came across music director Vishal Dadlani who gave me the idea of Teen Patti. I found it thoroughly appealing. From then onwards, I started working on the script and discovered that it had got abundant scope that could be explored. At a later stage, I also roped in Shiv Subramaniam to co-write the script with me. I totally admire his work. That is how the idea of Teen Patti came up. Moreover, Ambika Hinduja was already there with me, as we wanted to do a film together.
Does the movie glorify gambling? Aren't you worried that it might land you in a controversy? What is your take on this?
Basically, the film doesn"t romanticize or glorify gambling at all; in fact, gambling is just the backdrop to explore the human dramas with the help of elements such as deception and voracity. Moreover, gambling is used more in our lives rather than on the table as in the movie. And I am sure many of us make choices to attain success through short cuts but eventually learn harsh lessons from it. I don"t think that this movie is giving out any value that should not be given. I deem that there is no way that the film will get involved in any controversy.
The film Teen Patti has western shades to it. So, how do you think it will appeal to the Indian audience?
I don"t think that cinema has any particular language. It is universal and if the audience connects emotionally and to the story, then language doesn"t play a role. Today, the world has become a 'global and interconnected village'. World cinema has been telecast on the channels. Moreover, I also feel that by saying so, we are underestimating the intellect of the audience. I"m pretty confident that 'Teen Patti" will connect with the audience.
Was the legendary Amitabh Bachchan the original choice for Teen Patti and did you write the script keeping him in mind?
Basically, I don"t write the script keeping in mind any actor. But when I was developing the script, I narrated the story to Amitji. He liked it and instantly expressed eagerness to be a part of the film. Moreover, we also got Amitabhji"s inputs on the script, which helped us to streamline the story of Teen Patti. So, I think we are lucky that we got him on board.
How difficult is it for a female director in this male-dominated industry?
I don"t think that it is a male-dominated industry as women are there everywhere in the industry on the basis of their merit. After a few years, I am sure that this question will no longer be asked. Yes, the ratio of female directors to male directors is biased, but I strongly feel that it will equalize with time.
As you have worked with the greatest of actors, any memories that you can share with us while shooting Teen Patti?
There are lots of memories and, if I go on narrating each one of them, then it might take ages and I can still go on. I worked with such a fantastic range of actors, which was extremely challenging. I also learnt a lot from Amitji. I observed that he works with so much passion and dedication even at this age. I wish I could do at least 10 films with such zest and enthusiasm.
The film is a combination of gambling and probability. Therefore, what kind of research went into this particular film?
Yes, it is a fact that we took the help of Professor L. Subramaniam of Bombay IIT and Aditya Parmeshwar from Stanford University. But the story that emerged at the end was mainly about human drama and the factors that surrounded it.
What next after Teen Patti?
After Teen Patti, I will be taking a sabbatical. Thereafter I might begin to write another film, though I don"t know on which subject I would write.