Be it Masoom (1983), Mr India (1987), Bandit Queen (1994), or Elizabeth (1998), Shekhar Kapur has done a lot of path-breaking work in Bollywood as well as Hollywood. Although, of late, Kapur hasn’t been as prolific, but now, his hands are full with several international projects. Here, we chat with the film-maker about his new projects.
Is it true that you are teaming up with The Motorcycle Diaries writer, José Rivera, for the omnibus feature Berlin I Love You?
Yes, we have already written the script. I worked on the story and characters, and then Jose Rivera (Oscar-nominated screenwriter) penned the script. We will shoot in about three months [for my segment]. Right now, I am finishing Will (Kapur’s TV show on William Shakespeare). I am in the middle of the production for that show, but I have to take a week off from it to shoot for my segment. Also, we are still putting the actors together.
What’s the update on your TV drama chronicling the life of William Shakespeare in his 20s?
We are doing an interpretation of Shakespeare, which is completely different from everyone else’s interpretation of him. When I was growing up, I used to hate the Bard because his plays were supposedly only for intellectuals. It was like, “Oh, you won’t understand Shakespeare; we are intellectuals, so we will understand him.”
So, how did your perception of Shakespeare change?
Later, I realised that he was actually a poet of the masses, and not just for intellectuals. It’s just that the language [that he used] was from that period. When I understood that, I studied him, and I realised that he was writing for Bollywood (smiles); he was like a Hindi film poet. That’s how I got interested in him. So, now, I am presenting an alternate side of him, rather than the intellectual one. My show is about the melodramatic Shakespeare and the melodrama that surrounded his life in the 16th century [in the UK].
Talks are rife that you are going to work with Kangana…
Yes, I had met Kangana one day and we spoke about a film. I am still writing it, and once I am done with it, I’m definitely going to make it. It’s on the lines of film Masoom.
But weren’t you also making Masoom 2?
This is the same film. It’s got nothing to do with Masoom, and it isn’t going to take that story [of Masoom] forward. But yes, it’s that kind of a movie. And by that I mean that it’s a very intimate film, like Masoom was.
Is it true that Kangana’s playing an 85-year-old lady in it?
Yes, that’s true. But it’s not the continuation of the Masoom story.
But are we going to see you two working together?
Yes, absolutely! Let me just finish work on the script.
Also, what’s happening with Paani?
I have been trying to make that film for many years. The last time I was going to make it with Aditya Chopra’s company. Then, we had discussions and realised that we weren’t on the same page. There were certain creative differences. So, we decided that instead of trying to sort them during the production and indulge in fights, why not separate ourselves now only? Either I need to regroup and find somebody else [with whom to do the movie], or we need to sort out [those differences]. I need to set it (the film) up again, and if Sushant is available then, of course, he will be part of it.
You recently came out with a documentary on Mata Amritanandamayi…
Actually, it happened by accident. So, a few years back, I already knew about Maa (Mata Amritanandamayi), when I was looking for Haptic technology for an art installation; I was working on Mumbai’s airport terminal two. So, during that time, I was told that Haptic technology was being developed at Amma University. Later, a person, who I had made an ad for 15-20 years back, asked me if I would shoot for her 60th birthday celebrations. When I got there, the whole world’s press was there, and I didn’t have any space to place my camera. So, I decided to shoot people talking about her, and that became the documentary. There was no intention behind it; it just happened.