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'I'd like to explore the Indian gamut of actors'

Director Rituparno Ghosh, whose film The Last Lear released this week, became the target of an uncalled-for controversy. Minakshi Saini catches up with him.

entertainment Updated: Sep 15, 2008 19:40 IST
Minakshi Saini

Director Rituparno Ghosh, whose film The Last Lear released this week, became the target of an uncalled-for controversy.

The film had to bear the brunt of Jaya Bachchan’s allegedly anti-Marathi remark: the team was forced to cancel its Mumbai premiere. The director of path-breaking films like Unishe April, Raincoat, Chokher Bali and Bariwali talks about The Last Lear and what went into the making of the film.

What’s the thought behind the film?
It is an emotional story that tries to create or study the connection between theatre and cinema. It deals with the conflict arising out of the basic philosophy of theatre and cinema.

What made you decide to cast Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Rampal and Preity Zinta?
I have seen Arjun in Khalid Mohammad’s film Tehzeeb and Farhan Akhtar’s Don and liked him very much.

Amitabh is quite conversant with the language of theatre as he has been a theatre person from the city of Kolkata itself. So it is not exactly personal traits in these actors that have compelled me to use them. It is more of the persona they represent. Taking Preity Zinta was a conscious decision. She was stereotyped in one kind of look or role. Her look and role was my conviction. After our interaction, I decided that she would be able to gracefully carry the role [in Lear].

How did you decide upon Big B’s look in the film?
Deciding upon Mr Bachchan’s look was difficult, as he has tried almost every possible look in his career. While toying with various kinds of looks, we came across a picture of [filmmaker] Muzaffar Ali and then thought this could be the possible look for him.

What is different about the film?
It’s three ‘firsts’ for Amitabh Bachchan. Firstly, he has not done a non-formula film ever. Secondly, he has not done an English film before. And thirdly, he has never played an actor prior to this film. For me, this is unique as well, as The Last Lear is my first English film.

What is the reason behind your fixation with Bollywood stars as leads in your films?
It would be unfair to say that. If I cast Amitabh Bachchan from Mumbai, I have Jishu Sengupta from Kolkata. I would like to call it making the best use of the national talent, as regional films at times get restricted to regional actors. I would like to explore the Indian gamut of actors, wherever they are. I would really like to work with Mammoothy or Kamal Hassan.

What are your upcoming projects?
I have to finish Sunglass and then there is another film with Bipasha Basu, and I am planning a few more.