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The Rediff Interview / Sagar Ballary

'I feel like a kachcha limbo in the industry after Bheja Fry'

January 08, 2009

Sagar Ballary

After Bheja Fry, director Sagar Ballary is getting ready with his next film, Kachcha Limboo. A children's film, Sagar claims that his second film will be even better than the first.

Sagar started his career in Zee TV, working as an assistant. But he always wanted to become a director. When he could not get admission in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) in Pune, he tried his luck at Satyajit Ray [Images] Institute of filmmaking, and got lucky.

After his course, he joined Rajat Kapoor [Images] (Raghu Romeo), who, in turn, introduced him to Sunil Doshi of Handmade Films. Dosh went on to produce Bheja Fry, and the rest is history.

Sagar tells Patcy N what to expect from Kachcha Limboo.

What is Kachcha Limboo about?

Kachcha Limboo is about what children go through when they are 13-14 years old. It is about a month in this child Shambu's life.  Shambu is a fat boy, who faces problems at home and with his friends. It is also about him falling in love. One day, he runs away from home, and sees an environment that he was never exposed to in his protected life.

The film is also about Shambu's parents -- played by Atul Kulkarni and Sarika [Images] -- and their relationship.

I wanted to make such a film because I was highly inspired by movies like Ghatak's Bari Theke Paliye and Gulzar's [Images] Kitaab, which shows you the sensitive side of a child's mind.

This is the first film I wanted to make. I had said this while studying films in the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, six or seven years ago. But I never got an opportunity to make it.

I had thought of many titles for the film like First Rank, as the kid was obsessed with getting the first rank in class. Finally, we decided on Kachcha Limboo. That's a term used for the weakest player in games. Plus, I feel like a kachcha limbo in the industry after Bheja Fry.

This sounds like a heavy children's film. Do you think kids will like it?

I had watched Kitaab as a child and really liked it. Kids are mature and they understand a lot of things. But I have not made a drab issue-based film. It is funny, it has songs, it has its moments, it is entertaining... It ends on a positive note.

It sounds very different from Bheja Fry. Will the audience get disappointed?

Yes, it is totally different from Bheja Fry. People are expecting another comedy from me and this film isn't one. But people will not get disappointed. They will realise what kind of film it is from the promos, when it is out. Kids will love the film, even if their parents find it serious.

Did you face some of Shambu's problems personally?

Many of the situations in the film are based on real life incidents. There are situations from my life, situations that my friends have faced, and situations that are prevalent in the society now.

I have not faced any problems myself, but I have known of people who have faced such problems. I know that these things happen. This film has an urban story. Nobody makes stories of urban kids and the concrete jungle in which they live. By concrete jungle, I don't mean just buildings. I mean the concrete jungle values and ideas which are imposed upon them.

Tell us about Tahir Sutarwala, who plays Shambu.

This is his first film and he has performed very well. He has put experienced actors to shame. He does not try to be cute or over-dramatic. His acting is very natural.

What made you cast him?

We auditioned about 1,000 kids. We did not meet them but sent questionnaires to a few schools. We met the kids who passed the test. When we met him, Tahir was very shy. But he knew he would be selected.

Vinay Pathak and Ranvir Shorey in Bheja FryHow was it working with National award winners like Atul Kulkarni and Sarika?

I have worked with Sarika in Bheja Fry. She is a very good friend. Even though it was my first time with Atul Kulkarni, he is very cooperative.

Was it easy to get a project after Bheja Fry?

After Bheja Fry, everyone was ready to work with me. I had five producers and I went to the best.

From a budget of Rs 50 lakh for Bheja Fry to Rs 5 crore for Kachcha Limboo, it's been quite a promotion. Will Kachcha Limboo be better?

I will arrogantly say that Kachcha Limboo is my best project. It will be a landmark film, and an example in filmmaking. It has been made very well. I did not cast stars, I made a film for children, and have spent all the money on them. We shot for 20 days for Bheja Fry. For Kachcha Limboo, we shot for 70 days. I am very proud of this project.

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