Saeed Mirza's 1981 film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai is a cult film now. Mirza used a "maamooli" motor mechanic to convey and lambast the ills of India's downtrodden. It turned out to be a cult film with Naseeruddin Shah brilliantly portraying the angst of Pinto's ilk. As a Christian mechanic, he befriends some of Mumbai's upper-class car owners following their advice that only lumpens go on strike and if one were to work hard and sincerely, one would get rich some day. But Albert realises the futility of his own dream and the sheer hollowness of the rich men's advice when his mill-worker father gets beaten up by the anti-socials hired by the affluent owners. That day, Albert begins to direct his anger towards the rich and the powerful.
Now, Soumitra Ranade (who made the delightful children's movie, Jajantaram Mamantaram) is all set to recreate his own angry young man in a new film, also titled like the original, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai. In a chat with this writer on Sunday morning over the telephone from Mumbai, Ranade says that his movie is not really a remake of the Mirza classic. "Rather it is a conceptual remake...where I have used anger as a central point of focus like in Mirza's work. This time, it is the anger of the middle class, their anger against corruption, a non-functioning administration, exemplified by Albert Pinto".
The film centres on Albert, who leaves home one fine morning without telling anyone where he is going. His girlfriend Stella, his mother and his brother, Dominic, are worried about him. The movie captures Pinto's journey in a series of flashbacks and conversations with the worldly-wise driver, Nayar.
Ranade avers that "Albert’s anger stems from the experiences that life has presented him with – the personal injustice meted out to his father and the unfairness inflicted on humanity at large. It is this anger that takes him to Goa, to settle a score that he believes will help him lead a life of dignity".
Ranade adds that Albert stands for change. "The dream of an equal India is long dead. Despite the tremendous progress made on the industrial and technological front, most people in the country are unhappy. There are stupendous price hikes, farmer suicides, the Naxalite movement, the growing regionalism and factionalism; the onslaught of terrorism, questionable women's safety, the rural poverty and the urban stress, communalism, unrestrained corruption... the list is never ending."My film epitomizes all the anger these maladies trigger in the common man in contemporary India. For me, Albert Pinto is the catalyst for transformation – from a despondent middle class, driven only by the ideology of the Rupee - to an angry class, which begins to ask questions and demand answers. Personally, the movie is a culmination of a prolonged, despairing struggle. As Pinto says in the movie, 'it was as if a bulb had broken inside my stomach'. The making of the film meant removing each and every little piece of glass carefully"
And Kaul's screen lover will be Nandita Das, who will essay a part (Stella) made unforgettable by Shabana Azmi in the original version. Das, often referred to as a thinking actress, has done some remarkable work in films like Fire, Earth (both by Toronto-based Deepa Mehta), Jag Mundhra's Bawandar and Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal. Her directorial debut, the 2008 Firaaq, was a political thriller with a celebrity cast (Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Paresh Rawal).
Ranade has incidentally created a rank new character in his work. Saurab Shukla (what excellent performances in Jolly LLB as the belching judge and as the godman in PK) will be Nayar, a friend of Albert.
Ranade's work is nearly finished, but the last leg of his journey still needs Rs 30 lakhs, which the director hopes to collect through crowd funding. One knows that last year's Mumbai Film Festival took place only because crowds funded it after Reliance withdrew. One also knows that Bikas Mishra's Chauranga was able to can the last of the shots through crowd funding.
One hopes the crowds will help cool Albert Pinto's "gussa".