Australian-American director Bruce Beresford, who is currently heading the International Competition jury at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival, is most thrilled about being able to return to India. “I went to a film festival in Kerala three years ago. But usually, it is (attending film festivals) not possible because I’m working on something or the other,” he says.
Many international film-makers tend to bring up Satyajit Ray’s name when asked if they’re familiar with Indian cinema. But few have had the opportunity to meet the late Bengali film-maker in person. Beresford happens to be one of them. “I met him a number of times when I worked at the National Film Theatre in London,” he recalls, adding, “He was a very interesting and cultured man. And very tall (laughs).”
While speaking of his love for Ray’s Apu Trilogy — Pather Panchali (1955), Apur Sansar and Aparajito (both 1956) — he even brings up his Academy Award-winning film, Driving Miss Daisy. The 1989 movie starred Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. “Character conflict — that’s what I liked about the trilogy. Even though I had never been to India then, the story had universal appeal. That’s why while I did Driving Miss Daisy (I maintained that)... it is in the tradition of Pather Panchali,” says the director.
While on the subject, he also made sure he told us about Aamir Khan’s Lagaan (2001), which he considers one of the best cricketing films ever made. He adds, “It was fantastic. I saw it in the theatre and then I got the DVD. The songs are great. Though there haven’t been many, this is the only film about cricket that is any good.” At the ongoing movie event, Beresford’s task- apart from selecting the winning international entry- will also be to host an interactive session with film enthusiasts on October 24 (at Metro Screen 3).
“I thought I would talk about the necessity of story boarding. These days, with tight budgets and short schedules, if you don’t plan them, you’ll make all sorts of horrible mistakes,” says Beresford.
His upcoming project that the world seems to be awaiting has a title that evokes one obvious response. Since it’s called Bonnie And Clyde, one tends to assume it’s a remake of the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway 1967 film. But Beresford denies that. “It’s not a remake. The Warren Beatty one is a nice film, but it’s like a romantic version. This one (TV film) is much more historically accurate, with more details, and it’s three hours long. The only similarity between the two is the title,” he says.