Abhishek Chaubey gets candid about remarkable reviews of Dedh Ishqiya not translating into the expected box-office collections
Dedh Ishqiya got fabulous reviews for its gripping story and rivetting performances of the principal cast. Did you expect it to translate into box-office collections?
I am not evolved when it comes to business and figures, but the trade analyst did tell me that the film did not do the kind of business that was expected. But as a director, one should not react to the immediate response. The film is in its third week and the theatres are still getting footfalls. Also it did well overseas in countries like the US and the Middle East. Back home, box-office collections in Delhi and UP were substantial. When I went to Lucknow recently, the people there were full of praise for the film.
What kind of comments have been coming your way?
Dedh Ishqiya is unconventional without the regular song-and-dance sequences, women in bikinis etc. My inbox messages tell me that they loved the setting of beautiful havelis, especially the lighting. Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi’s portrayal of two irrepressible crooks and Madhuri Dixit Nene and Huma Qureshi’s portrayal of their conflicting emotional predicament were quite endearing. And the audience seems to have liked them.
You think the language spoken by the characters with peppering of Urdu was something that deterred the audience ?
If you go to see, the theatre-going audience today comprises mainly college-going youngsters and then there are families with children. But Dedh Ishqiya is not film that they don’t like, it’s just not their kind of cinema. People in my age group (in their 30s), who rue the fact that Bollywood does not make films like they do in the West, don’t go to watch them when a film-maker attempts something different. Dedh Ishqiya was not art house, but it was funny and entertaining. This reluctance to watch such films in the theatre discourages a lot of film-makers who want to experiment.
The idea of women turning men against men in the film was interesting. What did you want to convey with that?
Both, in Ishqiya and in Dedh Ishqiya, I wanted to move away from the regular gender roles. Generally, we tend to show how men look at women. I reversed that in Dedh Ishqiya and showed how women, Huma’s character Muniya and Madhuri’s character Begum Para, look at men!
What draws you to the kind of cinema you make — unconventional characters in intriguing rural settings?
Settings excite me! I borrow from the real world and then create an alternate world. It’s exciting to create a new world and what happens to the characters in it. I already had the street-smart Babban and Khalujaan (Naseeruddin) from Ishqiya. In Dedh Ishqiya, I took them to Mahmudabad and to a more refined world with good manners and tehzeeb to make it intriguing.
Now I have started writing for my next. I am not consciously trying to make a different film, but it’s a thriller set in the North which excited me. In fact the screenplay will be ready in a month’s time.