I should be going all out and promoting my next release Shanghai. At the moment I’m shooting, so I guess I should use the HT column as a platform to spread the word. The film releases on June 8 people. Watch it in the theatres. Don’t buy pirated DVD/VCDs, etc.
So what is it I can say to sell the film? Quite honestly, for the past few films (the last five to be exact), I’m at a loss for words. Should I begin with my character? Is he a villain or a hero? Or does he show “shades of grey”? Is he an “anti-hero”? Or maybe with the plot of the movie?Should I begin with defining it as a “political thriller” (I find it to be a dark comedy, personally), an edgy tale set in small town India? Or maybe I should tell you about the relevance of this film for our cinema and our country, about it’s importance as a piece of contemporary art?
This is why I’m at a loss for words. Besides the hours and hours spent answering the same questions while promoting a film, I feel that all of these things, the character, the plot, the movie as a whole, should be discovered by the audience once they see it. They should be the ones to say if the character was positive or negative; they should be the ones to call it a thriller, a drama, a comedy, etc. As a filmmaker, of course I would tell you that this film is part of the new wave. But that would be like blowing my own trumpet; I’d like the audience to come back with the same conclusion. I don’t want to give them any pre-conceived notions about the movie.
So what is it that I can say to you then? The most frequently asked question (completely unrelated to the process of making the film) is, “did you play any pranks on set?” Or, “tell us something fun you did on set”. So, maybe I should just answer that. I didn’t play any “pranks” on the sets of this one. In fact, I never play any pranks at all. At least, not on set. What did I do to have “fun”? Well, I love my job so getting the shot right is the fun for me. It’s always on the days off that you get to do something fun. So whether it was being in Spain for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where going out and discovering the country was fun; in Shanghai, the party we had on the terrace of our hotel in Latur was fun. I have a vivid memory of seeing my D.P happily buzzed on alcohol swaying to the swing music I was playing. Which reminds me, I have to make him a playlist!
Shanghai was a tough film to make. I was in and out of the sets, coming back only when they were to shoot my scenes. Every time I came back to set the crew looked more tired than the last time I’d seen them. They told me that they were most happy when I came to the set. Not because they liked me more than the other actors, but because most of my sequences were shot indoors, which is easier than shooting outdoors where there are so many more factors to deal with (people, weather, cows, the usual).
Which basically meant that most of the crew like my producer, production designer, the line producer, etc, were passed out in my van while I gave my shot. Ah! now I remember one prank I played. I splashed a bit of chloroform on my pillow. My producer didn’t come back out for hours. Dibakar still thinks she was fatigued, and let her be. If only he knew.
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