Sujoy Ghosh: Concept that stars can't be good actors is bulls***!

Posted In : Gossips
(added 18 Feb 2012)

Director Sujoy Ghosh is humiliated, pissed off and generally tired of countering dogged and often wild speculations that his upcoming film Kahaani is based on writer Advaita Kala's best-selling novel Almost Single. In fact, he says he has been asked if it's based on the epic The Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Sujoy Ghosh: Concept that stars can't be good actors is bulls***!

So understandably, I rubbed him the wrong way at the beginning of the conversation by asking if it is in fact true that Kahaani is influenced by any of the above. "I am lost for words. I am humiliated that you ask me this. Where have you seen a thriller where a pregnant woman travels across the world searching for her missing husband? Why does it have to be a copy of anything? It's an original story," says Sujoy from Mumbai. "I'd rather be accused of copying myself."

He says he may have to cut off the conversation midway as he is expecting guests, and then for the next 40 minutes defends Kahaani's surprisingly low profile cast that includes a mix of some of Bengali cinema's brightest actors. Vidya Balan, a known face in a string of women-centric films, has shot to super stardom only after her award-winning performance in Milan Luthria's The Dirty Picture as Silk Smitha, a popular soft porn actress of the 80s.

"Someone who reminds you of yourself..." In a sense, Kahaani owes its allegiance to veteran actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, or as Sujoy quips - the Bengali Film Industry. "When I met Bumbada (Prosenjit's nickname) he asked me to shoot in Kolkata. I needed that encouragement. Kolkata has the best technical crew across India. Sometimes, somebody who reminds you of yourself can be the best inspiration," Sujoy says of Prosenjit. Son of actor Biswajeet, Prosenjit is credited with being a patron of the Bengali film industry and has contributed to its economy, appearing in as many as 15 films a year. He is looked upon as the industry's brand ambassador outside the city and its most visible face.

Naive, charming Kolkata He needed a different setting for Kahaani. "Kolkata still has the naive, old world charm. You have more of a chance to stick out as an outsider in Kolkata than you have in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. I wanted the audience to take that journey with Vidya. I have grown up in Kolkata, I know this city well."

I ask him if it has been difficult dealing with Vidya after her recent success in The Dirty Picture, hoping to coax out of him some gory stories of classic star tantrums. Incidentally, Vidya was approached for this role before she has signed on for Dirty Picture and Sujoy's association with her goes back a long time.

"I'll tell you the truth. While life has become a little easier as now at least I am guaranteed an opening with her in the lead, the pressure has ranked up. I still have to deliver. I shouldn't be f****** around with that. You have to be dedicated to your cast. But as a filmmaker you have to minimize the risk, you know this is the amount of money you have to tell a story without compromising the film."

As far as Vidya is concerned, Sujoy says she has been involved with the process of making Kahaani from the very beginning, not just as an actress. "She has been here from day zero. She knew the budget constraints and made do with whatever facilities were available in Kolkata, for example, no demands that her van be transported from Mumbai."

Was it a risk including relatively unknown regional faces in the cast of a film that would be released nationally on March 9, 2012? Actor Parambrata Chatterjee of the recent Baishe Srabon fame is the male lead in the film that lovingly shows Kolkata at its embellished best - during the Durga Puja.

"If the film demands Param, then Param it will be. You are asking why I did not put a national face in place of Param's. I have had to make that choice. I have to minimize the risk but in the end I will have to have a story which is gripping." "You are only as good as your last Friday"

If you thought directors enjoy a relative security born out of their creative freedom irrespective of how their films do at the collection office, Sujoy cheerfully shatters that myth. "I have to start all over again if this fails." The matter-of-fact acceptance perhaps stems out of Aladin (2009), his last, disastrous outing at the Box Office.

"There are only two types of cinema: Good and Bad" Every director, no matter how visionary, wants to work with bankable names. They bring their own issues and egos to work. And when big stars are on board, directing them is a nightmare....or is it? "No matter who the director is, there are only two types of cinema; good cinema and bad cinema. The concept that a star is not an actor is bulls***!"

Sujoy says he wants to tell a perfectly plausible story in Kahaani. The synopsis says a seven-month pregnant Vidya Bagchi arrives from London to Kolkata in search of her missing husband Arnab Bagchi. Fighting her rising fear and desperation she searches for clues in the festive city that could lead her to Arnab. She battles her body's own needs in the process.

"We are normal people. What's happening to Vidya is happening to us. We don't have the skills of Jason Bourne or the charm of James Bond. I kept the story as normal as possible. Everyday husbands run away, or are unfaithful. I did not expect my dad to die, but when he did, it was like a slap on my face, an eye opener." We are as mundanely normal, that way.

Every director wants that one story that will be their ticket to the hallowed hall of the cinematic greats. "I have a long way to go. I have to first assure my place as a good director... It's like being in love... You don't reason with it. I want it to be like a season of 'Lost' (laughs) or Prison Break. I may be the best, but I never can break out of that prison and I keep trying to. I pray to god that I never find that story.

(added 18 Feb 2012) / 1081 views

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