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The idea of heroism has led to disasters, says Sudhir Mishra on Daas Dev

Sudhir Mishra, the director of films like Dharavi, Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi and Chameli, is back with his new film Daas Dev. He talks about the cult of hero in Indian films.

bollywood Updated: Apr 26, 2018 16:14 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sudhir Mishra,Daasdev,Richa Chadha
Sudhir Mishra’s new film, Daas Dev, is Devdas in reverse.

National Award-winning filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, who is gearing up for the release of Daasdev on April 27, believes the ideas of heroism and being macho has led to the disasters. The filmmaker was speaking about the abiding interest in Devdas, seen as a loser who whittles away his life after refusing to ‘man up’ and marry the woman he loves.

However, that makes him a quintessential Mishra hero -- a man who is beset with human frailty but rises to the occasion in extraordinary circumstances. Be it Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi, Khoya Khoya Chand, Chameli and Inkaar, Sudhir Mishra’s films are mostly about human weaknesses. What is this fixation? Sudhir says, “The best analysis of my films is that it is the anatomy of grey. Truth is we are all frail human beings and heroism occurs now and then. I think it is human to fail and so called virtues and idea of heroism and being macho have led to major disasters in human kind. The idea of standing by your beliefs is idiotic, I may have the wrong belief and I am standing by them. It is better to say sorry -- I apologise, I was wrong and not kill 20,000 or two lakh people because of my belief. Hitler thought he was right. This idea of being strong, power is the biggest lie.”

Instead, he believes saying sorry when you are wrong is the real heroism. “Soft men are not considered heroic. What do you want -- men who strut around bashing people? From bashing to rape to power, it is one more step. Even popular culture spreads this dangerous myth and audience buys into it. That is the danger of popular culture. It is perfectly alright to say I am sorry -- that is heroism, To admit your frailty -- that is heroism. Even my women characters are sometimes wrong, because they are human, Human beings make mistakes. Then I should write a treatise or essay on how people should behave,” he adds.

He believes even dark films should have a moral core. “I don’t believe in today’s style where the word dark is used for a lack of imagination. If your film don’t have a moral core, then sorry I am not interested. If being human is weak then only dark characters -- whom you won’t call home for dinner but make films about -- then you are a fraud. I don’t mind dark character as long as the film has a moral core. Characters can be anything, there are all sorts of people. Like I think Anurag (Kashyap) and Vishal’s (Bhardwaj) films have a moral core. They are strongly moral. I think Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction has a very strong moral core. Pulp Fiction is the most moralistic film of all times, I think. Look at the end of the film, look at Samuel L Jackson’s long monologue. I don’t think many people who mimic Tarantino understand the moral core. His films are against violence, they show violence but also its futility.”

What then should be on a filmmaker’s mind -- the society or the individual? “If you make films only on some present social condition, then I don’t think those films will last. I don’t think Hazaron (Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi) is only a film about Naxalism. I think it is about the vestiges of beauty that lasts when youth fades. That why I named it Hazaron Khwahishein, that’s why Ghalib came in. Nobody asked me how come this film on the Emergency is called Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi and what has Ghalib got to do with the Emergency? That’s why Ghalib is Ghalib, way ahead of his times,” Sudhir says.

Given the volatile political scenario that we are living in, is it not difficult to survive and make films that depict the society’s reality? The filmmakker says, “I do not give artists or myself any special status. It is a difficult time. It is difficult to get money for such films and get them released. But the main challenge is how do I not fall into the trap of repeating myself. I could make say, love in the times of Babri. The main problem is can I be good enough? If I am good enough, it will be difficult but I will manage.”

Sudhir postponed the release of Daasdev from April 20 to April 27. The film stars Richa Chadha, Rahul Bhat, Aditi Rao Hydari and Saurabh Shukla in lead roles. “I admit I have used the characters -Devdas, Chandni and Paro but anybody who wants to see another version of Devdas should steer clear of Daasdev. I got an idea one day when I saw similarity between Devdas and Hamlet. My Dev becomes addicted to power. Then I thought what if Paro is Dev’s dad’s secretary’s daughter, Chandni in my film is the woman or man every politician knows but denies knowing. I kept that triangle and weaved another story around them in a political atmosphere of our times.”

Saurabh Shukla, who plays a pivotal role in the film says, “I have chosen the roles where my character speaks my voice. I mean it is the filmmaker’s voice but then you end up going to the filmmaker who sounds like you and you agree with their voice. Daasdev is written with great nuances. Sudhir’s understanding of politics is of an insider so it is very different. To have a director who has had first hand experience of living in that (political) world.”

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First Published: Apr 26, 2018 16:10 IST