Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar has always believed in coming up with films with unconventional subjects. His out-of-the-box ideas have always struck a chord with the audience and have won him accolades.
The Vicky Donor director, who is gearing up for the release of his next, Piku, which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan, sounds confident about winning the hearts of the audience once again. Sircar spoke to HT. Excerpts:
Is Piku a dream come true for you given that your film, Shoebite, starting Amitabh Bachchan, is still stuck?
(Smiles) I have worked with Bachchan saab on quite a few advertisements so I share a good rapport with him. I am still hopeful about Shoebite though this is my first film with him, which is releasing. Of course, it’s a dream come true for me. Who doesn’t want to work with him! Everyone wants to work with legends and whoever has worked with him should feel proud and lucky.
So, it wasn’t difficult convincing Amitabh Bachchan?
No, it’s not that he would have done the film even if he hadn’t liked the script. I share a good rapport, so I could request him. He always reads his scripts thoroughly, and as we all know he does a film only when he is convinced with the script. Both Juhi (Chaturvedi), who writes all the scripts with me, and I wrote the script keeping him in mind because we were sure no one could have played this role better.
The film’s trailer has been a hit with the audience. Is it a comedy?
It’s not a comedy. Though there are certainly comic elements in the film, the genre can’t be defined. The story is about a Bengali family and it focuses on a father-daughter relationship. The aging father seeks attention all the time and has his set of weird problems and the daughter makes every effort to keep her father happy.
The trailer shows Amitabh Bachchan complaining about his irregular bowels and indigestion problems.
In fact, that is what everyone has seen in the trailer so far but there is more to the story. Bengalis love their food and irregular bowels and indigestion are some of the very common things that are discussed at Bengali households. It’s a very interesting story and I am sure everyone will like it.
Was it easier for you as a scriptwriter to focus on this angle because you are a Bengali?
(Laughs) The idea came to Juhi first and then we started working on it. Of course being a Bengali I know how these sentiments and emotions work in a Bengali household. There are a lot of personal experiences too that came into play when I wrote the script. Mr Bachchan too was brilliant when it came to playing this role. This story will take everyone to the middle of a family’s drawing room and it’s a story, which can be enjoyed by people of all age groups. However, this could have been any family… Marathi, Punjabi, Bihari.
Whenever you think of Bengalis you relate them to literature, music and art, but you decided to choose a completely different subject.
It wasn’t a pre-planned idea to do something unconventional. When I did Vicky Donor that too had a very unconventional subject. People liked it and the film became a hit. I feel it gave me the confidence. Madras Café too had a very different subject. So, I have started believing that people like to watch something, which is new and fresh. Whoever watches this film will find a little bit of his or her father in Amitabh Bachchan. It will be very easy for them to connect with the characters.
Amitabh Bachchan was seen riding a bicycle on the streets of Kolkata while he was shooting for the film. Was it very difficult shooting with Amitabh Bachchan on the Kolkata streets?
It’s always very difficult when you are shooting outdoors. Mr Bachchan is very professional and I had briefed him earlier that he was required to ride a bicycle. I always brief everyone and show him or her what I require for a particular shot. There is a lot of me in what you will see in Mr Bachchan’s character. In fact, he was excited about the idea of riding a bicycle. He was full of energy more so because he was shooting in the city where he got his first job and spent a considerable part of his life in Kolkata. He often used to get nostalgic because and even visited his friends who are still in that city.
Deekipa Padukone and Irrfan’s pairing too is very unconventional.
I always write a script keeping a few actors in mind. This script too had a few requirements. Both Juhi and I wanted Mr Bachchan for this role because we knew no one could have played the role better than him. We had a couple of actresses in mind but Deepika was our first choice and Irrfan is one of the best actors in the industry. We wrote this script keeping all these three people and mind and everyone agreed to be part of the film. So, we have worked with one of the most talented set of actors in this film.
The film also sees singer-composer Anupam Roy making his Bollywood debut.
I have known Anupam for a while now and everyone will agree that he is one of the best singer-composers in the Bengali film industry. I had heard his songs and liked them. We were looking for a fresh soundtrack and Anupam was the best choice. The film’s music has already been liked by everyone and I am more than happy.
Besides directing some good films you are also producing quite a few films and promoting new talent.
It’s not a conscious decision to promote talents by producing new films. The idea is to make good films. There are a lot of people who are doing good work in both the Hindi and Bengali film industry. There are a few films, which I feel I won’t be able to direct but someone else will do a better job, so I decide to produce those films. I decided to produce the Bengali film, Open Tee Bioscope because I feel it had a good story and Anindya Chattopadhyay made a remarkable debut. The set of child actors too have been brilliant. It has just completed 100 days and though I was hopeful about the film, it has surpassed my expectations.
Read: Amitabh has a special pet name for Deepika