If you have a filmmaker like Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi onboard, you can expect something unconventional to unfold in the cinemas. This is what cinephiles are expecting to happen when October, starring Varun Dhawan and debutante Banita Sandhu, releases on April 13.
But aren’t the makers of the film concerned about audience’s reaction to the unusual story of October? The producer of the film Ronnie Lahiri said, “The audience has always been receptive to changes and new stuff. It is within the industry that we think that the audience will not accept the new concepts. In 2012, nobody would have thought that a film can be made on a subject as risky as a sperm donor but when Vicky Donor was released it was received well, same happened with Piku. All our films have always been off the centre and audience has always lapped it up. It is us who restrain ourselves and make a decision on audience’s behalf that what they might not like what we like. So, I think this is a misconception that the audience will not like new stuff.”
October is making headlines for all the right reasons. From it being a ‘story of love’ and not a ‘love story’ to its star cast Varun and Banita featuring in their never seen before avatars, everything about the film is intriguing. The credit for much of it goes to ace-filmmaker Shoojit Sircar who has earlier delivered films like Vicky Donor, Piku, Pink, Yahaan and Madras Cafe among others. Talking about Shoojit, Ronnie quipped, “I have been working with Shoojit for last twenty years. I know what kind of stories he wants to tell. He is one of his kind and a true storyteller. He doesn’t care about the budget or the box office collections, his first concern is, ‘will people love my story, will they watch it, will they connect to it’.”
Watch the trailer of October starring Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu
“Shoojit knows the script better than anyone else because he lives with it for good 2-3 years. He not only knows the words of it but also why is that word there. It is not just blurting out the lines but the emotion behind that line. That’s what helps when he has to extract performance from anybody. He is not the one who will tell the actor what needs to be done. He sits with the actor for 10-15 minutes, I don’t know what he talks to him in the corner, but then when I see the acting of the actor, I am like ‘oh this actor looked so different in that commercial or film and in Shoojit’s film he is such a brilliant actor’, so it has definitely got to do something with what he does, because Shoojit knows exactly what he wants and he can explain it to his actors,” added Ronnie.
It has been said enough times that Varun was not on the casting list of Shoojit for October but then it was the Judwaa 2 actor who was finalised to play the role of Dan. Revealing more about Varun’s casting for the film, the producer said, “I never saw Varun’s films. But one day when he came and met Shoojit in his office, Shoojit sent me his picture. In it, he looked like a regular, boy next door. The best part was Varun was ready to completely surrender himself to the film. He never asked for the entire script and trusted Shoojit. For someone who has back to back commercial hits, Varun trusting a director who doesn’t do his kind of cinema showed his hunger for good roles. I think Varun wants to be an actor more than a star. That is what I have discovered about him in whatever time I have worked with him.”
In times when a film entering the Rs 100 crore club is one of the parameters to judge the success of a film, Ronnie doesn’t believe in it. He said, “I don’t believe in this Rs 100 crore club being a parameter of judging if a film is a hit or not. Technically speaking, 50 percent on the first week goes to the theatres and not the producers. So, if a film earns Rs 50 crores on a weekend, a producer will get only Rs 25 crores. This whole business is being overused. It is fine if we talk about these numbers within the industry but the audience being affected by it, is not good. Today, I have seen cinema goers discuss that if a film has made 70 crores, it’s not a good movie. I don’t understand how does it matter to them. They are not getting any of this money. Instead, it should be like, if you spent Rs 300 on a movie and you thought of it as worth your money, then it is more satisfying. No matter even if that film earned Rs 2 crores.”
So, being a film producer, does he have a worrisome Friday? “My pressure is until I see the first copy of the film. I am not a Friday number man. I want people to love the film and want them to watch it. If people will go and watch the film, numbers will come automatically. I will not work on how many numbers should come on a Friday,” replied Ronnie.
Ask him about the decision of bringing the name of the writer of October Juhi Chaturvedi early in the credits and he remarked, “It is not even a conscious thought. It comes naturally that her name should come. We feel a writer is a very rare commodity these days and they should be celebrated. Juhi doesn’t write many films but when she does, all her films connect well with the audience. I think writers should be given their due credit and respect. A writer is one of the most important people in a film because the idea, the thought and writing come from him/her. It is after that only that a director can come up with a vision and me as a producer can contribute.”