Days before the release of his political thriller Shanghai, filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee is angry and irritated. Reports claiming that he has presented his leading lady, Kalki Koechlin, in an ugly avatar in the film have disturbed the director.
“I don’t know whose head to bash or who to sue for such false reports. Someone has put this wrong piece of information online that I wanted Kalki to look bad in Shanghai,” he rants, adding, “Someone is trying to prove that I am stupid, as only a stupid guy would want his beautiful leading lady to look ugly.”
Dibakar does admit, however, that Kalki’s look has been dramatically changed. “I like reinventing looks and making my actors look different than their normal selves,” he says.
He insists that since his leading lady looked glamorous and westernised in films like Dev D (2009) and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), he wanted to capture her vulnerability in Shanghai, to add to her beauty.
“Her character, Shalini, is a girl just out of college who is going through a traumatic period in her life. She is emotional, and it shows in her eyes,” the director explains, adding, “Kalki has very elegant hair. But I wanted to give her a wild and slightly messed-up hairstyle to show that Shalini doesn’t care how she looks. She doesn’t wear make-up and only dresses in sporty clothes.”
Having captured her in extreme close-ups in the film, Dibakar claims, “I think she is looking her best as compared to her earlier films because no one has used her vulnerability before. She is heart-achingly beautiful.”
The film, slated to release on 8 June, also stars Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol and Prosenjit Chatterjee. It is based on the novel Z by Vassilis Vassilikos.