To many, it is surprising that Anurag Basu is the same man who helmed Kites and Barfi!. The director, who believes touching a hundred hearts is more important than Rs.100 crore box-office takings, says versatility often turns out to be a disadvantage in the film industry.
"I personally feel it is a disadvantage to be a versatile director. Producers don't know where to place you because they don't know what next you will come up with," Basu told IANS.
"(As a director, I feel) You live with a film for one to two years, and so it should be entertaining. Each and every project should excite you (as a filmmaker). For me, 'Barfi!' was an altogether different experience," added the director, who has earlier helmed films as different as Gangster, Life... in a Metro and Kites.
Basu's latest offering Barfi! is drawing viewers to the theatres even a week after its release Sep 14. But he is not bothered whether it makes it to the Rs.100 crore club or makes it through the shortlist of India's entry for the Oscar this year. His prime reward, he says, is touching viewers with his storytelling - something he has successfully achieved with the movie.
"I don't know about making Rs.100 crore. But I feel it is more difficult to touch people's heart. From my film, I only want to touch hundreds or thousands of hearts and that's all that matters to me. Collection is not important for me," Basu told IANS in an interview.
Barfi! is a moving tale of love beyond words - between a deaf and mute boy Murphy, played by Ranbir Kapoor, and an autistic girl Jhilmil, essayed effortlessly by the National award-winning Priyanka Chopra.
Southern actress Ileana D'Cruz, who has made her Bollywood debut with the movie, has also left a strong impact with her performance.
The film has been hailed in cinematic circles for its simplistic, yet heartwarming treatment. The viewers are expected to understand the nearly mute narrative through sign language and the beauty is that they do.
Filmmakers like Karan Johar and celebrities like megastar Amitabh Bachchan have praised the "masterpiece" and Basu is thankful to them all. Johar said he felt "talentless" after watching "Barfi!"
"It is really overwhelming when people praise your film. For me, Karan Johar's comment means a lot. Karan Johar's message was very humbling. It takes courage and you need a big heart to praise any other director. I also received some great messages, one from Big B as well. It feels great when people admire you," he said.
For now, the filmmaker plans to work on an English version of Barfi!, work on a "small film", and later, towards the winter season of 2013, he plans to roll out the Kishore Kumar biopic with Ranbir, on floors.
In the meantime, grapevine has it that Barfi! is one among 17 films shortlisted by the Film Federation of India to send for the Academy Award category of Best Foreign Language Film.
Basu isn't sure his film will make it through.
"It is great, but I don't know how much of a chance do we have, because this year we have some wonderful films, not just from Bollywood but from regional cinema as well.
"This is a good time for Indian cinema and it's going to be very tough for the jury members to shortlist the films. (But) I hope this time we will be lucky," he added.