The much-acclaimed film, Brick Lane, based on Monica Ali’s novel, opens in cinemas in India today. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction (2003), Ali was also voted Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists on the basis of the unpublished manuscript. The movie was released globally three years ago.
Director Sarah Gavron is thrilled that the people of the country, where she shot for two weeks, will finally get to see it in the theatres, starting with Metro Adlabs.
Never mind the delay, Gavron enthuses, “I’m delighted that Brick Lane is, at last, releasing in India. UTV World Movies is the right platform for it and I would have been very disappointed if the India release had not happened.” Elaborating on the significance of the India release, the director says, “It was while shooting a portion of the film in West Bengal that I began to understand the culture and tradition of India and fell in love with the country. Although many Asians and Indians abroad have seen the film, I’m very keen that the film reaches the audience in India because I shot it there.”
In retrospect, Gavron asserts that she couldn’t have found better actors than Satish Kaushik and Tannishta Chatterjee to cast in her movie.
“I had done a world wide search, but the most important criteria was that the actors should be capable of capturing the nuances of the characters,” she recalls, adding, “Apart from being very experienced, Satish was also able to master the language and diction perfectly and understand the subtleties of his character, Chanu Ahmed. Tannishtha is one of the few actors who understood filmmaking and could communicate well through her character, Naznee, even though she had little to say in terms of dialogues.”
On being asked if she had seen Kaushik’s films, wherein he has done slapstick comedy, and Gavron replies, “I saw some of them and I really enjoyed his performances in them. Satish’s character caters to the gallery in some scenes of the film, and he’s really fantastic in them.”
Despite the years that have passed since the movie released, Gavron has continued to stay in touch with Kaushik and Chatterjee. “We’ve become very good friends and stay connected through e-mail and phone calls,” the director says, adding that she misses being in India at a time when her film releases here.
“I so wanted to come to India, but there’s a family situation. I’ve had a baby recently and it’s not possible for me to travel there yet. But I’d surely like to come there sometime in the future,” she asserts.
The director, who got acquainted with Indian cinema when she was casting for Brick Lane, continues to see Hindi films now and then.
“It started with Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen. Back then, I also saw some Bengali films,” she reminisces, adding, “I appreciate the huge fan following of Bollywood cinema in Britain. Hindi films are quite popular there and it’s good to see more and more Indian films getting noticed at the international film festivals.” Gavron counts Shah Rukh Khan’s Devdas as one of her favourite Hindi films. And no, she hasn’t seen Kites yet.
Balancing work and baby
The director, who’s busy with her baby these days, is working on a documentary on a small community in Greenland apart from two other films — one on a father-daughter story and another on a group of women. “Being a woman, I naturally connect with women-centric subjects. Filmmaking is a long process that consumes a lot of energy and passion. At the same time, I’m also open to making films with male leads,” she says.
While she’d love to work with Bollywood actors, Gavron feels it will take a while. “As of now, my next two ideas are set in Britain and revolve around white people. Maybe, sometime later,” she signs off.