Anurag Kashyap’s psychological thriller, Michael, is India’s official entry at the Toronto Film Festival in the world contemporary cinema section. It’’ll be screened on September 15 and Anurag and his debutant writer-director Ribhu Dasgupta along with the fest organisors would like lead actor Naseeruddin Shah to walk the red carpet on Thursday.
But Naseer says he is unsure about his participation. “I’d have loved to be at Toronto but I have some shows of my play, Arms And The Man, scheduled for the weekend and I hate to cancel shows,” says the actor who plays a paranoid cop who’s been wrongly convicted and cashiered. The film revolves around his relationship with his young son, whose life he’s trying to protect even as he’s going blind. “Michael is a well-made movie,” says he.
Ribhu had earlier assisted Anurag on Gulal (2009) and was thrilled when Naseer liked his script. The film was shot entirely in Kolkata over a period of about 40 days.
“We shot extensively on roads and real location, and everywhere Naseer sir was mobbed,” reminisces the director, admitting the story is partially inspired by the City of Joy, the Cat Stevens song, ‘Father & son…’ and his own relationship with his father. Ribhu adds that contrary to speculation it is not an English movie, but a full-length Hindi feature. “It’s called Michael because that is the cop’s name. It even has songs but they will play in the background.”
Naseer has of late acted in a couple of off-beat films like Allah Ke Bandey (2010), The Blueberry Hunt (2011), The Girl In Yellow Boots (2011) and Michael (2011). Do these films compare with the parallel cinema of the 1970s and ’80s, films like Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976), and Chakra (1981) to name a few?
“I’d say they are better because the youngsters making them are more proficient technically so the movies are aesthetically more advanced. For me, it’s important for films like these to be close to their roots,” he says, adding, “We shouldn’t be making meaningful films for the heck of being different.”