From the global success of “The Lunchbox” to adapting the Booker Prize-winning novel “Sense of an Ending”, it has been an interesting journey for Ritesh Batra, who hopes to direct a movie someday that brings cinema greats of India and west together.
His debut feature film, about two lonely people who meet due to a mistake by Mumbai’s highly efficient dabbawalas’s delivery system, became a great success globally.
The director hopes his second film “Sense of an Ending”, a screen adaptation of Julian Barnes’ 2011 novel and starring Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent, “45 Years” star Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey” fame, will find similar acceptance.
Batra, who calls “The Lunchbox” a “real gift”, dreams of a world where stories are not hindered by language or region and he believes it is a real possibility in near future.
“The world is becoming a smaller place and the stories have to travel and intermingle… To be able to tell a British story in English language worldwide is great for me. It would be great to make a movie where I have great actors from east and west. I would love to do that. We have such great talent in India,” Batra told PTI in an interview.
“Sense of an Ending” has already sold worldwide and Batra is hopeful that the audience that watches the English movie, will also follow him to the next Indian project that he does.
“I would like to bring that global audience to my Indian stories. I want to make this film and go and make an Indian movie and then come back and do another English film. What we have managed to do with ‘Lunchbox’, we are hoping to do it with this one on a bigger scale.”
Batra loved “Sense of an Ending” and says the author was really supportive during the making of the film.
“It was one of the books that I always loved. Julian Barnes was at the shoot many times and he recently saw the finished film and he loved it. He has been really supportive and put a lot of trust in me. You have to kind of live up to that.”
For Batra, the beauty of the novel is the fact that it touches people differently but he was careful in creating a story that was close to his vision rather than following the book verbatim.
“When you love something so much you don’t just want to take it and make it exactly because you know it would be evil to do that… The key for me was to make a movie that complements the book and is not just a substitute, because you can’t outdo a novel as its pages live in everyone imagination differently.”
Batra has introduced new characters, plot points and thought process in the movie which are not there in the book so he is confident that those who have read the book will also be surprised by the new elements.
“The movie should exist side by side the novel. I wish I was a novelist. Even though the story is on the page and does not have the resources of a film, it is an extremely powerful medium.
“Adapting a book is harder but in a way very liberating. When I was making ‘Lunchbox’, I was the writer and director but here I could just focus on directing the movie.”
The director, a film lover to the core, says he considers making movies as his life.
“This is the best job for me in the world because usually when you go to a job you leave your life behind and you invest yourself in your job. Life and your job are two different things. But I can bring my life to it. When I read the novel, read the script and made this movie, it felt like I was telling my own story. That’s important to me.”