In a freak accident,a simple laundryman is transplanted with his beloved donkeys brains and,as a result,rises quickly to prominence and commands a large following. As absurd as the premise sounds,it fits right in,given the current state of our country. The only way I could bring it to life was by breathing in some Indian sense of humour, says Mumbai-based filmmaker Vivek Budakoti.
His first independent feature film,’Pied Piper’,has been screened at several international film festivals,its sharp socio-political content striking a chord with critics and the crowds.
Almost seven decades after Independence,and we are still juggling our lives according to the great Indian democratic circus, says Budakoti,who has penned television serials such as ‘Kahani Saath Pheron Ki,Babul Ki Duayen,Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka’ and under his Magic Lantern Productions,made serials such as ‘Ram Milaye Jodi’.
He has also assisted directors such as Sudhir Mishra and Aziz Mirza besides artist MF Husain on ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities’.
The two-hour-long ‘Pied Piper’,which stars Rajpal Yadav,had its world premiere at Chicago South Asian Film Festival,and was screened at Fer Film Festival in Ferizaj,Kosovo,and Mumbai Film Festival this year.
Budakotis film is an extension of the German satirical folklore,The Pied Piper of Hamlin. “I am drawn to titles that signify the crux of the story. When producer Rajita Sharma,who has written the film with Farid Khan and Budakoti,came up with the name,we agreed instantly as no other word could have defined the leaders and their mindless followers, says the director.
Budakotis inspiration,and courage,come from an incident that took place at the time of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackerays death last year.
November 2012,Mumbai,was a time when political emotions in Mumbai had peaked so much that a simple Facebook comment put a girl in prison in no time. She became my source of inspiration, says Budakoti.
Instead of showing anger on screen,Budakoti chose the common man’s weapon,humour,as his cinematic expression.
The common man has mastered the art of looking at the amusing side of even grave situations, says the filmmaker.
Once Chunnilal,the laundryman,acquires his donkeys brains,he charms millions with his asinine traits and become famous. Ill at ease by Chunnilal’s non-conformist approach,the establishment starts to fear his influence on the society. He must be stopped,even eliminated but can he altogether be erased from a collective consciousness?
Seen through the prism of Bertolt Brecht and socio-political commentators such as cartoonists and Budakotis cinema hero Charlie Chaplin,Pied Piper is an experimental film made on a budget of less than Rs 3 crore. Chaplin was a far superior director than actor,he was someone who had the brilliance of generating humour and pathos in the same frame as his film,The Great Dictator,shows. Thats why I chose Rajpal. Like Chaplin,he has the ability to
shift emotions from humorous to
tragic in a single frame,which is very rare, says Budakoti.