Reality as I see it is my motto for films: Dibakar


New Delhi, 1 August

Filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee says he cannot deny that using a well-known actor or star can help improve the chances of his films being seen as ‘the star has an unexplained relationship with the audience’.

At an interaction with film historian Amrit Gangar, Dibakar said however that his films always have a mix of popular stars and new faces.

Asked about his film ‘Shanghai’ being screened at the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema, he said adapting a novel into a screenplay is always very difficult as the film has its time constraints. One can therefore only pick a few parts of the drama and then construct a screenplay based on them.

Loosely adapted from the novel ‘Z’ by Vassilis Vasilikov (the 1969 film of the same name by Costa Gavras became an instant classic), ‘Shanghai’ is set in a fictional Indian town, where it attempts to expose the hypocrisies, corruption and super-structures that protect the rich and the powerful. Dibakar said he had a lot of difficulty in finding Vassilis Vasilikov and then convincing him to let Dibakar use the novel for his film.

He said he had always liked to make films on the reality as he saw it. Though one did not make films to document history, one generally ended up doing this. He admitted that most of his films were on urban India but this was because he understood this milieu since he had always lived in urban India.

But he said he does not make mainstream style films because Bollywood filmmakers tend to ‘depict a reality which is not their own reality’.  ‘My films are a way of trying to make sense of the people around me’, he said, adding that he is also keen to know how people will understand him.

He said the whole grammar of cinema had begun to change in the age of the Internet and digital technology.

Asked why he shot commercials, he said this helped him to earn money for more serious feature films.

Replying to another question, he said he felt that there were several aspects to the country that were still unexplored. ‘India is a split personality, living in different social periods at the same time. It has many faces, but it is changing and we have to go with the flow.’

Answering a question, he said he was also stimulated by Satyajit Ray’s restraint and lack of sentimentality but a lot of emotion in his films. He also liked films by Shyam Benegal, Ketan Mehta, Govind Nihalani, Anurag Kashyap, and was greatly impressed by Shekhar Kapur’s ‘Bandit Queen’.

He said in reply to a question that none of his films – ‘Love Sex aur Dhoka’, ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’, and ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye’ – had lost money. But he would be uncomfortable making a film that was a blockbuster.

He disagreed that some filmmakers did not look at the commercial side when making their films. He said even making an art house film knowing that it may not make money was a commercial decision. He is now planning a romantic thriller, he said.