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The Rediff Interview / Sujoy Ghosh
'All my films will have Mr Bachchan'
August 28, 2008
Sujoy Ghosh has put behind the debacle of Home Delivery [Images] as he excitedly moves onto his next offering Aladdin starring Amitabh Bachchan [Images], Sanjay Dutt [Images], Riteish Deshmukh [Images] and Jaqueline Fernandes.
"Filmmaking is a learning process. You can either sit back and mope over failures or move on. Right now, I am too fired up about Aladdin to think about anything else," says the young filmmaker who gave us the musical comedy Jhankaar Beats.
Ghosh is more than effusive in his praise for Amitabh Bachchan who plays the Genie in the film. "I have been stalking him for a while now. I am still in awe of him as a fan. He is outstandingly cool to work with."
Swati R Chaudhary reports...
What prompted you to make a film on Aladdin? And is it a children's film?
Aladdin is about knowing what you want in life. It's about making the right decisions at the right time. What better than choosing a story that people are familiar with. Most of us know about it so I don't need to explain it to anyone. When you choose a simple story, you can concentrate on the story-telling aspect of it, improvising the story, editing it and presenting it your way.
That, Aladdin is a children's film is a wrong notion. I hope children enjoy it as much as any adult. There's no set age group. These are the stories that we grew up with and it's a story that stays with you throughout your life. It doesn't segregate between somebody young or somebody old.
It's a film akin to a Mr India or a Spider-Man. It's more of a
How much have you drawn from the original story?
The core idea is the same. We have the boy, the lamp, the three wishes and the genie of course. I don't know if this analogy is apt but the fun is when you tweak a Devdas and make a Muquaddar ka Sikandar out of it.
So Aladdin is a masala action adventure film. Call it the Manmohan Desai version of Aladdin.
Amitabh Bachchan plays the Genie...
I have been stalking Mr Bachchan for a while now. I'd give an arm and a leg to work with him. Second, I wanted to work with Sanjay Dutt and Riteish Deshmukh. Mr Bachchan plays the genie with the mischievousness of an 18-year-old. He is supposed to help Aladdin but he consistently pulls pranks on him making his life miserable.
Riteish Deshmukh plays the role of Aladdin to the T. He plays a simple guy who can do with a little help in life. Sanjay Dutt plays a guy who wants everything in life. He is the only person who is extremely focused in the film. He wants to rule the world.
How did he react about being cast as a genie? Did you have to convince him?
Mr Bachchan never turned me down for anything. He read the final script; he liked it and said yes. He wanted to know how I would present the film, that was his only concern. His final call depended on the presentation of the film to audiences. He liked what he heard and saw on paper and agreed to be a part of it. He is outstandingly cool to work with.
You had also planned the thriller Borivali with him...
Borivali is a complicated subject. I am not too sure if I should go back to Borivali or move on with life. Now that I've learnt about special effects, I believe, I can do better thrillers than Borivali.
Now we have learnt the process of writing scripts that can be embedded with special effects, action etc which I didn't know when I was writing Jhankaar Beats. I would now like to attempt a thriller that would incorporate all these different aspects of cinema.
What is the best part about directing Amitabh Bachchan?
I didn't have to do anything at all! This was the best part about working with Sir. It was like revisiting a film school. He is just like a friend on sets. He is very open and receptive to ideas. Bachchan represents the film industry and it cannot get bigger than this.
When you stand in front of him, it's a very nervous kind of an experience. Even when he calls you on phone, you stand up and talk to him. This is the kind of respect he rightfully deserves.
Actually, you can't really be nervous about someone you're gonna be working with. Once you overtake that fear, he is quite cool. He is insane than all of us put together, but then, there is that line of respect that you never cross with him. I am still in awe of him as a fan. To say that he is extremely good to work with would be an understatement.
My whole unit was a little in awe of him. He is good fun to have on sets. He really cheers you up.
Tell us about your favourite Mr Bachchan scene in the film?
Watch out for the climax of the film and the action scenes as well. It's like watching Amar Akbar Anthony.
Aladdin appears to be a lavish spectacle laden with high end special effects...
Aladdin is a visual treat. We have used special effects to help create reality. And hopefully it should not jar you view whilst you are watching the film. And it should be a seamless process where you should understand 'special effects' and distinguish it from that which is 'real'. Special effects should not take over the film. It should take the story forward.
We also see a special mention of special effects in Aladdin on Bachchan's blog.
Yes! The beauty of special effects comes into play when everything that you cannot create is created, may be because it is not practical to shoot or it's dangerous or expensive. These are the times when you resort to a back up plan of special effects.
As a filmmaker, you want to be challenged and I think a film should be visually challenging. It should present to you the task of translating something extremely simple into something that's visually appetising. At the end of the day, cinema is a visual medium. I wanted to make a visually challenging film and this is how the idea of Aladdin originated.
Tell us about the music of the film.
For me it was like going back to my college days. Aladdin has a very retro, 80's kind of a music. The music is reminiscent of Bachchan films and is beautifully done by Vishal-Shekhar.
In hindsight, what do you think went wrong with Home Delivery?
I have no regrets about making Home Delivery. It was a sincere attempt of trying something new. Somehow, I went wrong in narrating the story and audiences felt alienated and that's fine. You can't predict these things. Even telling a story like Jhankaar Beats was a risk. You win some, you lose some and you move on. It feels bad when you're film doesn't do well but you can't hold on to your failures. You are supposed to do new things. Filmmaking is a learning process.
There is a script called Bhangra that I am working on. I'm very excited about it and there are some other releases coming up. And all my films will have Mr Bachchan.
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