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Sudhir Mishra on the past track

Saibal Chatterjee catches up with the seasoned director. Mishra signs Shiney

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 19:26 IST
WIDE ANGLE | Saibal Chatterjee
WIDE ANGLE | Saibal Chatterjee

The pages of history have assumed renewed significance for Sudhir Mishra. For a filmmaker who has built his career so far primarily on the act of chronicling and dissecting contemporary social and political realities, that obviously represents a clean break from the past.

Having made his reputation as sensitive director making films like Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin, Main Zinda Hoon, Dharavi and Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Mishra is now rewinding the scope of his cinematic vision in order to focus on the realms of the nation’s and the film industry’s past.

The critical and commercial success of Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, an Indo-French co-production that explored, with insight and passion, the political idealism and material opportunism that characterised the volatile years leading up to the Emergency clamped on India in 1975, seems to have enthused him to travel further and further back in time.

Despite being a period drama, Hazaaron… had an anachronistic feel. The outfits and the looks that the principal characters wore weren’t 1970s at all. That, says Mishra, was a deliberate creative strategy.

“The `70s were awful in terms of fashion. If I had given the characters bell-bottoms and flowing locks, they would looked like caricatures,” he explains.

Having made his reputation as sensitive director, Sudhir Mishra is now rewinding the scope of his cinematic vision in order to focus on the realms of the nation’s and the film industry’s past.

Mishra’s next venture,

Bahut Nikle Mere Armaan

, which is set in the Bombay film industry of the post-Independence years, widely regarded as the golden era of Hindi cinema, will have a more pronounced period essence.

But true to form, the director will use the backdrop to delve into aspects of filmmaking and the star system that are rarely touched upon in contemporary Mumbai movies.

The new film, being produced by Prakash Jha, will revolve primarily around three characters – an idealistic filmmaker who finds it difficult to make the kind of movies films he wants to, an actress who is always in the gossip columns and a male movie star caught between the two.

While Shiney Ahuja and Vidya Parineeta Balan have already been pencilled in to play the roles of the filmmaker and the actress, Mishra is looking for a more seasoned actor to cast as the male movie star. “It has to be somebody tall and well-built because that is what most male stars of the 1940s and 1950s used to be,” says Mishra.

Also on Mishra’s anvil is The Nawab, the Nautch Girl and John Company, which will take the filmmaker and his audience on a trip to the 19th century. “It will be my take on the events that occurred in the run-up to the 1857 uprising,” says the director. “It will be a dark film that will deal with the not so pleasant aspects of the period.”

The Nawab, the Nautch Girl and John Company will be the biggest film of Mishra’s career, both in terms of budget and intended reach. Negotiations are currently on with global film production sector players for the funding of the ambitious film that will be positioned as an international venture.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 19:00 IST