Shoojit Sircar and Amitabh Bachchan share a special relationship which is obvious through all the work they have done together. The director on Big B, Pink and more.
If the buzz surrounding Pink is anything to go by, it looks like the Amitabh Bachchan-Shoojit Sircar combination has come out with a winner yet again. In an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, the acclaimed director opens up about the film he has produced and his relationship with Big B.
Talk us about your long standing association with Amitabh Bachchan?
With Mr. Bachchan, our film journey began with Shoebite. It’s been more than 10 years now and our association is still very strong. It’s purely a working relationship.
Why do you call it a working relationship?
A working relationship always develops into a bonding. Through a working relationship, you become friends. Somewhere that trust develops purely because you depend on each other in moments. I didn’t mean working relationship strictly in its professional sense. Working relationship here means bonding with each other. Even for Pink, I went to him and he agreed to do this film immediately. He had a lot of trust in me even though I was coming with a new director (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury). I too have a lot of trust in him. He is always there on our radar when we want to cast somebody as an actor. So we have nothing to complain about each other.
But do you write scripts keeping Mr. Bachchan in mind?
No. I can’t write a story for an actor. I will write a story and then fit in the character. In the case of this film, the subject chose Mr. Bachchan.
What were the reference materials you gave Mr. Bachchan’s to help him prepare for his character?
Many. We gave him a lot of real life cases to study, arguments, behavioural patterns of a lawyer, etiquette that a lawyer needs to follow inside a court. We picked up real life cases, we showed him some in camera trials and other news clippings.
Take us through Mr. Bachchan’s way of preparing himself for a role?
Whenever he gets into a character, he is like a child. He is like a 17-year old boy. As soon as he gets his script, he starts reading it. He will work on it day and night and will call up if he wants to ask something. He keeps practicing so much that he often forgets to take his lunch. One day I told him, “Sir let’s break for lunch.” And he was like, ” No no. Lets’ work.” But I said,”No sir. Let’s have lunch.” Otherwise from his house, they would have started shouting at me saying that Shoojit is not giving lunch break to Mr. Bachchan. Such is his dedication towards work.
Does this immense trust overwhelm you or make you nervous?
It makes me feel both. It overwhelms me because a legend who has been here for more than 45 years and is an icon of this country trusts you on films which has strong moral values and which talks about social changes. So you become responsible for it also. And it makes me nervous because he has trusted you so much and as a trusted soldier you need to give it back to your King. I have to fight for him and do anything for him. I consider it an honour and privilege. In this film too, I have not left any scope of complaint for Mr. Bachchan. In every moment I was there standing with him giving him complete support as our director was new. So creatively I got involved in this. More than my film, I got involved in this film. In a nutshell, I am responsible for whatever he does in the film.
Don’t you regret not directing the film?
I don’t. Aniruddha (director) wanted to make it in Bengali. But I told him to make it Hindi. You can call me the coach of the film. I gave it all my expertise, Whatever suggestions I gave, our director accepted it. I have worked more in this film than my own films because of my responsibility of introducing Anirudhha in Hindi films, having signed on Big B and also because my name is involved in the film. So it is my responsibility. My creative interference was good for the film.
Did you take special care to make sure the courtroom scenes are not over dramatised?
I can give you 200 percent guarantee that you will see a real court room drama in my movie where nobody is out of their character. All my films are realistic and the environment that prevails in the courtroom in the film is also real. You will feel like you are sitting in a courtroom. The arguments don’t consist over-the-top lines. I don’t melodramatise. It’s hardcore and real.
Some of the lines that we see Mr. Bachchan speak in the trailer are hard-hitting…
(Cuts in) This film needed lines like these. Had I made it any lighter, it would have defeated the purpose of making the film. This film is hard-hitting and about what a woman goes through on a public platform or in a courtroom where a lawyer is asking her about her virginity and questions about her character. And ask any woman. They face such things in their lives every day. If not directly, it happens indirectly through a stare. The way people look at them in daily lives. So it is a strong statement that we really wanted to make. I hope after the film, people start discussing it.
Talk us about the three actresses in the film -Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang?
Taapsee is brilliant. I would call this is her launch film. Kirti has done a few films but through Pink you will see her true potential. Andrea is another brilliant actress from North East. I don’t know why others don’t cast actors from the North East but we wanted an actor from there and Andrea has performed brilliantly in the film.
As a filmmaker, how concerned are you about box-office numbers?
When someone invests in your vision, my responsibility lies in whether I can recover that cost or not. Rest whatever profit he earns is bonus. I don’t bother much about numbers or else I wouldn’t be able to make films. All my films are out-of-the box and unconventional ones. It doesn’t go with any formula.
And yet you get commercial stars like Amitabh Bachchan and John Abraham to star in them. How do you convince them?
I don’t convince anyone. I just go and start performing in front of them. I go, act and tell them this is their character. And they say yes. They also are hungry to do films which tell stories that can shake them up as human beings. That is the key to getting an actor to do a film.
Would you like to direct the Khans in future?
If they want me as a director, why not? It’s always a two-way process. You have to be a friend first and then work on a film. So I have to know a person first and then I will make a film with him. I can’t just go and say come let’s work on a film. Slowly we should know each other. There has to be a particular wavelength that should match and that is what matters.