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The Rediff Interview / Pradeep Sarkar
'Vinod Chopra was upset when I made Laaga'
Patcy N | October 12, 2007
Pradeep Sarkar wowed us with his directorial debut, Parineeta, starring Sanjay Dutt [Images], Saif Ali Khan [Images] and Vidya Balan [Images]. Now, he seems all set to repeat his act in his second film, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.
Lets hear what Pradeep has to say.
But first, tell us about Laaga Chunari Mein Daag.
Laaga is about a middle-class family in Varanasi, who live a simple and happy life. There are two sisters, played by Rani and Konkana. Rani moves to a city to earn a living for her family. There onwards, it's her journey.
This story seems similar to Aaina.
I haven't seen Aaina but I've heard that the concept starts there. The story here is different. The twists and turns are different. The story is similar only up to the point where she becomes a sex worker.
Both Parineeta and Laaga Chunari seem to be from a different era.
Parineeta is a novel. It is a classic. Aditya (Chopra, producer) was nursing the idea of Laaga Chunari for 11 years. He had heard this story somewhere and told me. Then Rekha [Images] Nigam sat down with the screenplay and dialogue.
If Aditya was nursing the idea for 11 years, why didn't he direct it himself?
I don't know. But when he told me the story, I started crying. I guess that's what made him think I could do justice to the story.
You wanted Vidya in Konkana's role but she had a date problem. Were you upset?
No. But I didn't know what to do, as I had conceived the idea with her in mind. I had not thought of anyone else. So for that moment, I was shaken.
Then we started looking out for another actress, and Konkana came into our life.
How do you select your story ideas?
I like the Indian sensibilities because that makes me very comfortable. I can relate to the people.
I come from a middle-class family and the developing years are what you remember and then, want to project.
Most of the cast and crew were Bengali. The atmosphere on the sets must have been very 'Bong.'
In terms of food, it was very Bengali. But it ended there, as I had to communicate with non-Bengalis too. But yes, directing in Bengali comes naturally to me when I am talking to Bengalis like Rani, Konkana or Jayadi. Hindi doesn't come naturally to me.
Was Rani your first choice?
Yes. We wrote the character and started looking for people who already have these characteristics. They have to have the same strengthes, weaknesses and habits. Later, we added the actors' characteristics to the roles. Like, after meeting Kunal Kapoor, I made his character like him. That's why you'll see real characters in the film.
How much liberty do you get when you do a Yash Raj Film? How is it to work with Aditya Chopra [Images]?
There is no interference from anyone. But I would often call Adi for suggestions.
Adi is a very straightforward man. He is involved in every film but does not interfere.
You shifted from the Vidhu Vinod Chopra camp to Yash Raj.
I don't belong to any camp. There is only one camp, that is filmmaking. I will go to anyone, who wants to make a good film. I will do two more films with Yash Raj.
Was Chopra upset with you for leaving him?
Yes, initially, he was. But recently I heard that he liked the promos of my film. So I messaged him for his blessings and he said my blessing are always with you. He loves me too much to hate me.