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Bond, Black Comedy and Bharadwaj!

Friday, February 18, 2011
By Sandeep Hattangadi

Vishal Bharadwaj is one of the rare filmmakers in tinsel-town who adapts Shakespeare on celluloid for dark brooding films like ‘Maqbool’ and ‘Omkara’ and grabs box-office with film noir like ‘Kaminey’ and ‘Ishqiya’ with a literary Ruskin Bond classic, ‘The Blue Umbrella’ for a change. The composer-producer-writer-director is now ready to release his latest ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’. We spoke to this man of many talents, on cinema, literature and censorship.

How would you describe Saat Khoon Maaf?

We have played with the relatively underused genre of black comedy. Ruskin sahib’s presentation of characters will make you leave the theatre with a smile. You will also gain knowledge of new ways of killing people (smiles).

This is the second time you have worked with Priyanka?
She is way ahead of her contemporaries. I did not need to explain what I wanted from Sussana, she understood and delivered it on her own. This gave me time to work on the other nuances of the film. I sincerely felt that she has graduated to the league of fine actors such as Pankaj Kapoor and Naseeruddin Shah.

Priyanka has been in the news for wrong reasons?
I will soon make a film on income tax, so we can talk more on that then. On a more serious note, it pains me to see that when top ranking politicians and bureaucrats get involved in multi-crore scams, nothing happens. But a big hue and cry is made when a Bollywood personality’s name crops up. I would request the media to stand up for the artist’s cause

The original genesis for the film was the short story ‘Susannah’s Seven Husbands’?

Yes. After reading the original short story I found that there was enough matter for a full fledged film. His one line would transcend an entire generation. So, I approached Ruskin sahib who I know since ‘Blue Umbrella’ days to elaborate on the characters in a novel format. He graciously agreed and would send me hand written chapters by post.

He still does not use electronic methods of writing. This happened during the making of ‘Kaminey’.

Later, I sat with my screen play and edit team to prepare the cinematic version of the novel. We will soon have the book released which will contain all three i.e. the short story, the novella and the film script.

The film will have an Adult certificate?
I don’t really care about certification for I am more bothered about giving justice to the story and the characters. I firmly believe that every film finds it own audience. The positive grace here is that the censors have cleared the film without a single cut.

Why are most of your films based on the dark side of human nature?
I guess I like to try uncharted waters. I want to explore other layers of emotions. But this is not a deliberate design to provoke, it happens naturally.

Do you think that time has finally come that films with female centric roles rock?
I feel that today the concept of lead’s gender is passé. The recent success of ‘No One Killed Jessica’ and others is pointer to that. The audience love a good film be it an SRK or Priyanka led film.

Why do you only stick to English literature?

Ruskin sahib only writes in English but all his characters, narratives and backdrops are rooted in real India. You will also agree that English is now as Indian a language as any other. I am looking at making a film on more of Ruskin sahib’s novels.

We have heard that you are also considering adapting Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Two States’ to the big screen?
Yes. A lot of ideas are seething in my brain. I am also considering a film on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Then a story by Sharad Joshi is also on the cards. But until the release of ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ I can’t concentrate on anything else.

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