Dibakar: If you don't like Kalki, I don't like you!
Dibakar Banerjee's latest film Shanghai has been lauded by critics but apparently saw a relatively poor turnout at the theatres in the first weekend of its release.
But what really has irked the filmmaker is the criticism his leading lady Kalki Koechlin's portrayal in the film has been recieving.
Banerjee lashes out at detractors in this interview with Subhash K Jha.
Shanghai has opened to generally positive reviews. Your reaction?
I am stunned. I did not expect this kind of feedback.
Kalki Koechlin's performance has been largely panned. Many believe that her portrayal of a traumatised woman is stereotypical. What do you have to say about that?
Okay. What do you do when your lover/spouse is brutally mowed down by a truck in front of your eyes just two hours after you've made love to him? Do you smile?
Shalini Sahay is traumatised to the extent of being unhinged. And it's from her relentless quest for revenge that the plot of Shanghai emerges. If Kalki had not had the courage to give a new dimension to the charcater, we would have been panned for having created a muddled plot.
Image: Movie poster of Shanghai. Inset: Dibakar Banerjee
'Shalini is my personal triumph'
You sound defensive?
I'm up for all kinds of criticism. I can see a hundred more faults in my film than anyone else can but this one about Kalki is something I don't approve of.
Those who want to see the female lead doing little else than simper, please watch something else. For the ones who want to see their heroine carry a film on her shoulders, keeping gender biases aside, should watch Kalki in Shanghai.
And please, let's not confuse Kalki's character with her acting. It's only because she has got her character bang on and that is slightly intimidating. It's like saying, "God! the villain was so scary i can't stand him!".
Kalki portrays a defiant character, someone who's at loggerheads with the world. At the same time, she's the only character that is doing things with true courage and no material advantage in mind. She remains my personal triumph as a true character and if you don't like her, I don't like you.
Image: Kalki Koechlin in Shanghai
'Emraan needs no encouragement from anyone else except his own instincts'
Critics say it's a new beginning for Emraan Hashmi as an actor. But how would he be encouraged to do more experimental roles when Shanghai doesn't get the same response as Jannat 2?
Emraan needs no encouragement from anyone else except his own instincts. He acted in Shanghai against many people's advice. He smiled and told me that many people would like this one to fail.
The initial box offcie figures indicate that the joke is on those detractors. Emraan will do exactly what he wants.
He is already acting with many A-list directors on some really prestigious projects. And if this one does not have the collections of Jannat 2, The Dirty Picture and many others, what does it say?
That it's Dibakar who made Shanghai different from Emraan's other films. So the brickbats are all for me and I accept them with perverse glee!
Image: Emraan Hashmi in Shanghai
'I am anti-injustice'
Your film is an expose on the corrupt aspect of industrialisation and globalisation. Decades ago, B R Chopra's Naya Daur also spoke about the uprooting of rural India by unscrupulous industrialists. Are you anti-globaliasation?
I am anti-injustice. I'm also pro-development if it's true, intelligent and all-inclusive.
Image: A scene from Shanghai