Shoojit Sircar Curated

Indian Film Director

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Shoojit Sircar have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Shoojit Sircar's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming directors. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • What memories of Irrfan Khan will you always cherish?

    He was so genuine in appreciating someone. Very few artistes have that. The quality of appreciating someone was his biggest gift. The news of the illness was a shocker for me also. He went to London. I kept talking to him and visiting him regularly. We did some breathing exercises and meditation. I grew quite close to him in the last two years when he was going through this ordeal. He was fighting the illness all the time. It was difficult for me to take the news and put it out on social media. He was so alive that it’s difficult to… When I see some image of him or some film of his… he’s so vibrant, you can’t forget him. It seems he’ll step out of the screen any moment. Not just me but everyone felt a personal loss.

    View Source:

  • What do you have to say about Ayushmann as an actor? Was he nervous facing Mr Bachchan in Gulabo Sitabo?

    I’ve worked with Ayushmann in Vicky Donor. We came back together after seven to eight years. Initially it was a bit awkward for him. But the good thing about these two actors is that they both had complete trust and faith in their director, in me.Initially, Ayushmann was a bit apprehensive about shouting back at Amitabh Bachchan. Gradually, it all became comfortable. I appreciate the fact that Mr Bachchan is also comfortable with all his co-actors. He’s one of the best co-actors. The space that he gives to everyone is laudable. People normally fear, ‘Oh My God, he’s Amitabh Bachchan!’ But Irrfan (Khan) always said, he’s one of the best co-actors to watch and work with because he has no qualms about anything. Whatever’s there in the script, he will just stick to that. Also, I work with a close-knit team, which is working with me for many years now. So, for Ayushmann it was like coming back to the family.

    View Source:

  • Were you at ease asking Amitabh Bachchan for retakes?

    When he gives a good take, I normally react. If he finds no reaction from me, he himself tells the cameraman, ‘Wait, he doesn’t seem to be happy, let’s go for one more take.’ He’ll come and ask me, ‘Are you sure you’re happy?’ So, retakes are not a problem at all.

    View Source:

  • You’ve worked with Amitabh Bachchan in many films. What’s the most fascinating thing about him as an actor?

    It’s a given that he’s absolutely a director’s actor. I’ve been working with him for almost 15 years. So, we have developed a mutual respect for and bonding with each other. But for both of us, nobody is bigger than cinema. The film we are presenting becomes the most important. So, him respecting the director’s vision, is commendable. End of the day, cinema is a director’s medium. Being on that boat with the director, is his biggest achievement. He moulded himself and gave his all to the character of Mirza. I told him no one should be able to recognise you. Audience should not see Amitabh Bachchan at all. They should just see Mirza. He’s from UP so he knows the dialect spoken in Lucknow. That helped him get into this new avatar. He kept himself challenged all the time, steering his instincts, seeking challenges with his performances… these are his fascinating facets.

    View Source:

  • Amitabh Bachchan is a veteran an Ayushmann Khurrana a gen-now actor. How was it bringing them together in one frame?

    There was a novelty in them coming together. Ayushmann being the younger one and Mr Bachchan being most experienced. (Smiles) I won’t call him old, he’s also quite young. There’s a freshness in the pairing. Their characters were challenging. Both take on each other, which is fascinating to watch. Mr Bachchan has an aura. For Ayushmann to come and straightaway get into a fight him, took him some time. But it was fun to watch that.

    View Source:

  • What excited you about Gulabo Sitabo?

    This is the first time I’m embarking on a social satire. I love real life characters and characters we can relate to. All my films have had simple characters. They don’t do anything extraordinary. So, this is also another simple character-based film set in Lucknow. The film looks at this beautiful family and the people from Lucknow with a sense of humor and satire. It’s about their struggles and everyday life.

    View Source:

  • Does the OTT platform limit the number of people watching the film or is it the other way around?

    That I don’t know yet. I’ve never had this kind of a release, where the reach is across 200 countries at the same time. We have decided to subtitle the film in regional languages and also in 20 other languages like Arabic, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian… The reach can be huge.

    View Source:

  • Is digital the new way forward for cinema?

    Of course, it’s the new way forward. It has been around for some time. We have watched so much content on it already. It’s just that the lockdown has exposed the entire world to it more blatantly. But cinema will never go away. Cinema will still mean going to a theatre and watching a film together with everyone. Digital medium and cinema, both are going to co-exist.

    View Source:

  • You were the first one to consider releasing your film, 'Gulabo Sitabo' on the OTT platform. has it been profitable?

    When we conceptualised the film, it was always for a theatrical release. But the situation turned out to be something else. The producers will be the right people to say whether it was profitable or not. But I’ve taken a decision I’m happy about. I wanted to experiment with the digital platform. All are veering towards the digital platform because of the lockdown. It has a vast reach. My film will remain online forever for the audiences to watch. (Laughs) Mere shows kam nahi ho jayenge. Also, I won’t be nagged to send box-office collections!

    View Source:

  • What is the one thing you pray for?

    View Source

  • How do you handle the first screening of your movies?

    View Source

  • How do you pit h a movie to a producer?

    View Source

  • How far you push yourself and your crew to tell a good story?

    View Source

  • How do you gain an actor's trust?

    View Source

  • How do you control your temperament on set?

    View Source

  • How do you control your ego while filming a movie?

    View Source

  • How do you keep your unit and crew happy?

    View Source

  • How do you handle failures?

    View Source

  • Which is the most important personality traits for a director?

    View Source

  • Did you receive any adverse reactions for Pink?

    View Source

  • Did you receive any adverse reactions for Pink?

    View Source

  • Why didn't you direct Pink?

    View Source

  • How did you casted actors for Pink?

    View Source

  • How did you take up project Pink?

    View Source

  • What made you cast Varun Dhawan as Dan? He is known for his commercial films, a choice you don’t usually make.

    This is his debut film (laughs)! Let me be very clear, I didn’t cast him because he was Varun Dhawan. We first write the script, it is the backbone and spine of my films. So, when Juhi wrote this, we didn’t have any talent in our mind. We were looking for fresh faces as we had an idea how our characters should be. Me and Varun, nowhere go together when it comes to the kind of cinema we have come across and done. I have not seen his films at all, so we didn’t cast him on that basis as well. We don’t go along at all. Casting him was unexpected. He wanted to meet me for a long time. One day, in November, he texted asking me if we could meet. I asked if he could come right away. He said he had just woken up and was dressed clumsily. I insisted that he come to my office the way he is. And he showed up in his ripped denims, a crumpled shirt and disheveled hair. He walked in and sat in front of me. I didn’t see Varun Dhawan. In my mind, I was only looking for my character. We were looking for a boy with integrity in his eyes. Suddenly there he was, in front of me, Dan. Varun eyes reflected honesty and innocence, just what I was looking for. Till now whatever I had heard about him or seen of him, he is not that at all. He is a different personality totally. What Varun actually is you’ll find in this film. You’ll see that. I have just explored what he is, that’s what I do. I have just tried to juice out what he is inside the core as a person.

    View Source:

  • Your films have a peculiar Shoojit Sircar flavour. What is that you strive to say through your films?

    The strongest point that I try is to not compromise my characters’ integrity. We have always decided that every character is portrayed wholly, whether it is Piku, Bhashkor or The Dolly ji and Dadi ji combination in Vicky Donor. There are so many human things that we do every day and we are slowly forgetting them because of the fast-paced world. We can’t just sit for five minutes. So, in this time and age, we need something to remind ourselves. I am talking about myself too here. So, I try to show the reflection of the society in my films. I get inspired by real stories. My characters are inspired by real people. What I see, what bothers me, I put it out.

    View Source:

  • What is the casting procesa that you follow are the roles written with the actors in mind?

    View Source

  • While writing a story, do you take caution on how the audience would reciprocate to a certain moment and read between the lines?

    View Source

  • How do you work with actors? What is the process like?

    View Source

  • Do you take box office collection into consideration while making a film?

    View Source

  • Vicky Donor was a completely opposite of your previous films, how did this happen?

    View Source

  • How did political members react to Madras Cafe?

    View Source

  • Were your nervous about the audience reaction to your film Madras Cafe?

    View Source

  • As a filmmaker do you consider others opinion or you focus on what message you actually want to put across?

    View Source

  • Your first direction film Yaaha dealt with a political subject, were you apprehensive about it?

    View Source

  • What kind of art or cinema were you surrounded by when you were growing up?

    View Source

  • What will be your advice to the budding filmmakers of today?

    View Source

  • Do you believe in destiny?

    View Source

  • How did you create the war effects for Madras Cafe?

    View Source

  • How did you come up with a outstanding movie Madras Cafe?

    View Source

  • How did things start moving for Vicky Donor after getting rejected from many producers as well as actors?

    View Source

  • Did you struggle to find producers while doing Vicky Donor?

    View Source

  • How did you approach Mr Bachchan with Piku?

    View Source

  • How was your first interaction with Mr Bachchan?

    View Source

  • What do you think of the films that you make?

    View Source

  • What were the learning from theatre that you cherish?

    View Source

  • Tell us about your first ad film. What was it about?

    View Source

  • What does an art means to you?

    View Source

  • How did you filmmaking journey begin?

    View Source

  • Who is your inspiration for film making?

    View Source

  • What changed in you after joining theatre?

    View Source

  • What kind of movie did you watch while growing up?

    View Source

  • Tell us about Act One Thetre Group to whom your are a founder member.

    View Source

  • Tell us about the funny story about getting your first job

    View Source

  • How were you exposed to this film industry?

    View Source

  • Was filmmaking always a dream you wanted to pursue?

    View Source

  • How did you decide to make movie 'Sardar Uddham Singh' ?

    I heard the inspiring story when I was just out of college, doing theatre in Delhi. I came to Mumbai with the idea of making a film on it. I didn’t have the money or the courage or even a script. Now, with my writers Ritesh Shah and Shubhendu Bhattacharya, my friends Ronnie Lahiri and Sheel Kumar, and Vicky Kaushal, one of the most dynamic young actors today, and my years of experience, I want to bring this largely unknown revolutionary alive on screen. I’m both nervous and emotional.

    View Source:

  • Are you a patriot?

    I am, I love my India and tell my children that during vacations we should travel through the country and not abroad. Our history and traditions are among the oldest in the world. And despite so much diversity — different regions and languages, caste and creed, food and customs — we remain one. Any other country would have broken into parts by now.

    View Source:

  • How tough is it to recreate a bygone era?

    Very difficult even during research as there’re few records available and those there are were speculative. This is my first period film and it’s hard to create that environment and these characters that are a part of our history.

    View Source:

  • Is 'October' more close to your heart that your other movies?

    I guess it’s more difficult when you are only writing it. But yes, when I read it, the script did affect me. While writing, Juhi would complain that it was difficult for her to relive hospital and she doesn’t want to. So I used to tell her, ‘don’t worry, after this film, hospital will be very good and not looked at as a bad place.’ The idea was to put a kind of poetic touch to being in hospital and not make it morose. I also told my cinematographer, ‘I don’t know how you will shoot but I don’t want to feel the grief.’ So, he showed me couple of paintings of Edward Hopper, an American realist painter, and told me that he was going to light the film that way, and he has painted it brilliantly.

    View Source:

  • Do films empty you as a person and a film-maker?

    In fact, it has filled me up. It’s not a pessimistic but a really optimistic film. Ultimately, Shiuli wasn’t supposed to live after the kind of fall she had. After watching the film, a lot of people told me, ‘we just wanted to jump into the screen and hug Dan and tell him not to worry.’ I remember watching an Iranian film, A Separation. When the film ended, I felt like going to Iran, getting that family together, hug them and just being with them. I am filled with more positive feelings than negative.

    View Source:

  • According to you, the film-maker, was there love between the two characters of yours?

    If you see Dan’s behaviour in the film and what he does, it’s quite unexplained. Was it love or not or possibly just friendship? I didn’t underline that. That’s why I call it a story about love. I myself – as a director – don’t know whether they loved each other or not. But I still did not clearly give any such hints till the end when Dan takes the night jasmine plant and goes back home. Possibly, he will take care of her but does that mean it’s a love story or is he just like that? I purposely adopted a style in my storytelling wherein I don’t have to explain everything or why the story is moving in a particular way.

    View Source:

  • You do not believe in spoon feeding the audiences.

    I strongly believe that not all important things have to happen on the camera, as they can take place off the camera as well. So, there are many things that I leave just like that. My only brief to Juhi was to try and not explain everything and she did that beautifully. All those nuanced things are so easily understandable. Cinematically, we always try and underline everything, as we feel nothing is happening on screen but a lot of things take place internally; everything doesn’t have to happen on physical level. I also wanted to make people understand that if something like this happens, life mein speed-breaker lag jaata hai.

    View Source:

  • You clearly have a nuanced understanding of emotions. Does that help a lot?

    It actually comes quite naturally to me. In fact, all my actors will tell you that I perform each and every scene myself. Also, I never restrict them to the camera, so I don’t let them feel where the camera is. I have been told, ‘we have never seen such a medical film and that kind of an ICU.’ But an ICU works exactly like this. Again, it comes naturally because I have seen all of that. With October, I also wanted to bring [forth] medical science of comatose as after a point, medical experts are also not too sure what will happen [when a person is in coma] and they also leave it to fate.

    View Source:

  • You have always tried newer things in your films. Still, what makes you say that you have experimented with your craft with October?

    Firstly, it’s all about restraining yourself especially from melodramatic moments including when Shiuli dies or even when she looks at him for the first time and even Dan’s nonsensical talks about the number of pipes in ICU and all, as you see an innocent boy talking and discussing what he saw. I tried to control myself that I will not play it to the gallery but I will tell the story the way it may be happening with somebody at a hospital right now. I think not compromising with even me in certain places was like challenging my craft and myself.

    View Source:

  • You are very sensitive about issues with violence with girls and women.

    My first reaction is, ‘how can somebody do this and how can it happen repeatedly to such young girls?’ I mean what human behaviour makes you do this to young girls who are as small as six, seven and eight; and they don’t know what it is. What kind of human beings are they. That’s why I tweeted that I am not going to pray. I feel, ‘we call you Maa Durga and Maa Kali, so please give them [girls] hands [to fight such things]. A lot of people have gotten against me saying, ‘why do you have to ask for God’s hands,’ but I am doing my bit. I made Pink for whatever I had to say about rapes and molestation etc. Aur main kya kar sakta hoon? I can only knock on the door.

    View Source:

  • Did emotional experience in personal life impact you very much?

    They did. These first-hand experiences made me realise that there is a lot of randomness in what you do. I thought let that randomness be there in October, not underline anything and let it flow with the character. I thought, ‘if I am able to understand it, the audience can as well.’ I didn’t underestimate the audience. This film is actually not what you see as I feel there is an undercurrent that goes beyond it. Some people have interpreted it in their own way and taken it beyond.

    View Source:

  • Film like 'October' must have come straight from the heart.

    Absolutely! I had a personal experience of my mum being in comatose state in 2004. I would go to the hospital every day but would not do anything. I would just meet the doctor for five minutes who would update me about her. But I didn’t have anything to do for the rest of over 23 hours. So, I would just hang around. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing there as I would just wait. And those waits were really long ones.

    View Source:

  • You make the most heartfelt movies. What's your say?

    Actually, all my films – be it Piku, Pink, Vicky Donor or October – have been very personal. Also, Juhi (Chaturvedi; writer) took care of her mum for many years before she finally was put on ventilator but she couldn’t be revived. So, she actually has a first-hand experience of what it means to be caring. Plus, I think something similar happened with a dear friend of hers as well. As for me, my father and mother died in the same year. My dad was suffering with cancer for six years and my mum was in coma for three-and-a-half months. So, I have seen the hospital life. In fact, I would talk to my mother not knowing whether she is listening or not.

    View Source:

  • How did you decide to work with young actor Varun Dhawan?

    It just happened that we met and I thought he would be perfect for the role. For him to come to our kind of cinema, that was a big decision for him. But the good thing was that he surrendered. And I only work with actors who can surrender completely. Then I have fun and I can tell them how I envision the film and mould them to where I am looking at, from the point of view of the film.I know he has a huge fan base and I hope they like the film. But this will be my kind of film and not a regular potboiler.

    View Source:

  • Do you have to be rigid and controlling to make a film?

    The first thing I control is the cost by not shooting for many days. It is not control, but somebody has to drive the whole thing. If I shoot unnecessary things, it will raise cost. That doesn’t mean the film won’t have scale. “October” will still look like a big-budget film. “Madras Café” was a small-budget film, but you can compare it with any big-budget action film.

    View Source:

  • Are the actors okay with your controlling nature?

    Oh yes, absolutely. It is not a battlefield. My set is an open forum. Anybody can comment on anything and I take all suggestions from everyone. I am not rigid. If someone convinces me, I take the suggestion.

    View Source:

  • When it is a film that you direct, write and produce, how much control do you have and are actors okay with it?

    Me and the writer have lived the script for two-and-a-half to three years. We have lived with the characters and their emotions. I know the script more than anybody else. The rest of the crew comes in quite late. I have finished my film while writing it – the rest is just execution. That is why I know what I am looking at, what the characters are, what the pitch is, what the visual poetry of the film is going to be. I absolutely keep complete control over it. Not just because I am the director, but because I have lived the script more than anyone else.

    View Source:

  • How do you manage to be an economical filmmaker?

    I try not to shoot unnecessarily or spend on extra expenses that normally happen on a film set - like actors’ fees. The films that have worked for us, we thought there would be few takers for them. I didn’t think that “Piku” would work so much, or even “Pink” and “Vicky Donor”. Those were bonuses for my producers. But my job is that whatever money the producer gives me to make the film, I make sure that my film recovers that.

    View Source:

  • You generally believe working in clan?

    I only work with a few close friends. Whether it is Juhi or my friend Ronnie (Lahiri) who is the producer, or my cinematographer Aveek, my music director Shantanu Moitra – they are all close friends and we work like a closed circuit and bounce ideas off each other.

    View Source:

  • How can you not keep commercial considerations in mind in this industry? Isn’t it practical to think about money and where it is coming from?

    You are right. I only think about the money that I have been trusted with to make the film. And I am a very economical filmmaker.

    View Source:

  • Do you think you can gel as well with another writer as you have with Juhi Chaturvedi?

    It is difficult to explain. I think we have a certain integrity towards the film or the story we want to tell. We have always tried not to deviate from the first point that we started from, which is the motive of making the film. We keep questioning ourselves – the reason for making it has to be very very clear. We are not making films for commercial reasons. That integrity is there between us, and that integrity drives us to make films and stories. The way I want to treat my films, she is able to put it into beautiful language in her script.

    View Source:

  • Your films don’t usually depict conventional love. Why is that?

    These are stories. They are not different ways of depicting something. There is no one way of loving somebody. There is no formula to it. It is a sensitive place which only those two people understand. And it is not just boy and girl - it could be a mother and daughter or a father-son relationship. Love is not just defined by making love or kisses or gifts. It is beyond that.

    View Source:

  • What do you think the industry is doing wrong?

    There’s so much talk about a slowdown.A: A film is a director’s medium. You have to trust the director. There is no formula here. The success of all my films lies in the fact that I didn’t burden my films. “Pink” had a cost of production of 15 crore rupees ($2.2 million) and we spent around 7 crore rupees ($1.04 million) on P&A (marketing). I don’t spend unnecessarily. The problem with the industry is we don’t budget our films. Plus, we spend bizarre amounts on marketing. If you have a good film and a good trailer, you don’t need to spend so much.

    View Source:

  • Why didn’t you go to a studio with Piku?

    I did go to a couple of studios with this film. They didn’t understand it. And I have decided not to go to them again. There are 20 people sitting in a room and judging your film. I came out of one of these studios and said I am going to make this film myself. That’s what we did.

    View Source:

  • In terms of business, and especially in an environment where films are not doing well, what did you do right?

    Our trailer was fantastic. A lot of expectations come from a Shoojit Sircar film, especially after “Piku”. Plus, it was Mr. Bachchan and me coming together. Also, we kept our cost of production in check. It is unfair to burden your film with too much.

    View Source:

  • How producers should work?

    It is collaborative art. Yes, I can be rigid and adamant about a point of view. Today, someone asked me whose idea it was to put the main incident at the end of the credit roll. I said… and everybody said that it was my idea. I didn’t want the incident (where a woman is sexually assaulted) to be shown first, because I want the audience to judge my girls. And a lot of people did judge them because that is how you perceive the woman on the road; that she was asking for it. A lot of people thought that about the women in the film too, until they saw the incident right at the end. Someone told me it was a genius idea, but I said, “No, it was a clever idea”.

    View Source:

  • How do you work as a producer?

    If my name is involved… Also Mr. (Amitabh) Bachchan was a huge responsibility. He trusts me blindly. If it was another director, he might have left (the project), but Aniruddha understood. I told him this film is more important, it is not about you or me. And where my name is going, and as it is the first film I am producing, I will get involved. I get hugely involved. I don’t call it ghost direction. It is involvement.

    View Source:

  • Many people charge at you is that you ghost-directed the film.

    You’ve seen my name (in the credits). I am the creative producer. You’ve seen my credit as the writer of the film. How can you take the director in me and throw him away? I have directed films before. Tony (Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury) is a friend. I will not deny that for me and for Tony, the credit was not important… Yes, I have interfered hugely, rigidly, adamantly, but for the good of the film.

    View Source:

  • One of the criticisms of “Pink” is that the message was too obvious – it was being hammered down the audience’s throat.

    Would we have been talking about this subject if it wasn’t for this film? Human beings have become so insensitive to daily life, they don’t remember what happened five minutes back. Everything was logical. The way it happened in court, how else can you convince a judge? Try and convince your mother – she’s been asking you not to come home late for 20 years. And you think two hours is hammering?

    View Source:

  • How important is having a star on board for such unconventional films?

    My film Yahaan, which was on Kashmir, didn’t work. Then there was a seven-year gap before I did Shoebite with Mr Amitabh Bachchan but that got entangled in legal issues and has not been released. I was disheartened and depressed, but then Vicky Donor did very well at the box office. So the studios were confident about my next movie, Madras Café. Yes, with John, you draw some fans. People look up to what John is doing and I think he did one of his best performances in the film. So yes, it gives a little bit of a push to the film but beyond the Friday first show, nothing works apart from the content, unless it’s a Salman Khan movie.

    View Source:

  • Was it difficult working with Amitabh Bachchan?

    Despite the legend that he is, it is very easy to work with him. As soon as he gets a script in his hand, he is absolutely childlike. You can mould him the way you want. Obviously, he has got his own views because of his 45 years of experience in the industry, but it is really easy to convince him. If he sees the director’s vision, he will work the way you want. He just wants a good script. It is a lollypop that you have to give him.

    View Source:

  • How do you work with different genres?

    I am myself not too sure where I will settle and which genre I am comfortable with. I won’t be able to do song-and-dance obviously. My theatre background in Delhi helps me to relate with what is happening around me. Yahaan, for example, was based on a 1996 Indian Express article. Theatre has groomed me to pick up insightful, profound subjects. I won’t go for a box office-driven subject just to entertain. Piku had constipation and we all laughed, but its other side, the layers — the roots of Piku’s and Bhaskar’s thoughts — are very important for me.

    View Source:

  • Were you intimidated by Amitabh Bachchan’s superstar status, in not correcting him at times?

    Never. We shot a few scenes twice or thrice and he would call me sometimes at around 1.30 am — I go to bed quite early — and say, ‘Can we do this scene again tomorrow… I should be standing up in it’. So, I would call my production guy to reshoot, and they would say, ‘Why are we losing time’?’ And I would tell them not to worry.

    View Source:

  • Did you ever refuse his request to shoot again?

    This film is actor-driven. I had to win their trust completely. They had to be themselves, even Deepika and Irrfan. If they wanted to re-shoot a scene, I’d let them. On my editing table, I’d see what I could do. You have to give Mr Bachchan space for his 45-year experience.

    View Source:

  • Women are getting better roles in our movies now, for example Kangana Ranaut in Tanu Weds Manu. What does this say about our cinema?

    Kangana has been commendable of late. The leading ladies are exploring themselves beyond just song-and-dance. In the last 8-10 years, cinema has gone through a roller coaster ride. I never thought Vicky Donor would work this way. The film had a very small release — just 500 prints. But when it worked in the first few days, more prints were released. If a family can watch a sperm donor film together, it is an eye-opener for me, the writer, producer, etc.

    View Source:

  • Director and producer fight is all was the talk of the town. What is your take on this?

    What film the director is going to ultimately make, nobody has a clue. Studios put in huge amounts of money and the big Oxford-educated management people sitting there come up with jargon — plot point, climax, characterisation. They understand nothing and confuse the director because of which he sometimes takes a bad decision. But it all depends on the director, his basic honest thought, and the story he wants to tell in two hours.

    View Source:

  • Cinema has evolved over the years. Do you feel the same?

    I have a different take on this. I feel this kind of cinema always existed. I have grown up watching films of Tapan Sinha, Sai Paranjpye, Satyajit Ray. Paranjpye made films exactly like Vicky Donor. But at that time, jo gareeb film thi woh art film thi and it would release in one small Shakuntalam theatre and the big film would release in 200 theatres. So they were never promoted. Now because of multiplexes and people wanting to watch more content-driven films, we have got a place. But Bombay is also driven by box office. For my films too, people said gaana nahi hai, lip-sync hona chahiye, and all that — there is pressure. I still believe that if it works, it works. If they like it, they will ask someone else to watch it.

    View Source:

  • Many struggling writers say they have these brilliant stories, but filmmakers complain of lack of good writers. How come no bridges are being built between writers and filmmakers?

    I read a script a day. See, you can write very good words, very good sentences, very good concepts. But the art of screenplay is different from writing just a story. Very few get the hang of the screenplay. What they write is pure television, an extended version of a telefilm. It is not cinematic. I tell everybody to watch (Satyajit) Ray films, and you will know where cinema comes from. There is no depth in our writing. Otherwise, our cinema would have been on the global platform. We see Iranian cinema in our homes, but not Bengali or Tamil or Malayalam cinema, where there are so many subjects and so many writers. But we will all still watch a small Marathi film, like Court.

    View Source:

  • Have any of your movies got into trouble with the Censor Board?

    I have never faced a problem with the Censors. I think some really intelligent people are sitting in the board and watching the films. When I went to them with Vicky Donor, I thought I would get an ‘A’ certificate because it talks about a taboo subject. Believe me, when they watched the film, they got the essence of the film and gave me a ‘U/A’. When I went to them with Madras Café, I was mentally prepared that it will go to the Censor Board in Delhi because all political parties will want to watch it. Again, without a single cut, they gave me a ‘U/A’. With Piku too, I thought they will take out the line, ‘my daughter is not a virgin’, but they had no problem. Some films have created problems (with the Censor Board). They had genuine problems, they were done for that purpose. They were highlighted to play to the gallery. There are sensible people sitting in the Censor Board…

    View Source:

  • Are you okay with the Censor Board in its present form? Can we portray a political leader the way a Hollywood film shows an American president?

    Making political films is a big issue in India. We are not as democratic as we say we are. In Hollywood, they can make JFK, my all-time favourite. They can make films about the CIA. But yes, there is trouble here. We are a diverse country and that is a risk. So in terms of Censor Board, I do not know how it will go on. But things are opening up. Because of social media, things are getting closer to people and they can react.

    View Source:

  • how would you compare acting in Bollywood with that in the West?

    The Indian Express COVID19 No more pumping iron: Burdened by lockdown, fitness industry seeks a way out ADVERTISEMENT HomeEntertainmentBollywood Shoojit Sircar: There is no depth in our writing…otherwise we would have been on the global platform Shoojit Sircar is among the contemporary crop of filmmakers who are redefining Indian cinema, known to push the envelope. By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: December 22, 2015 3:13:34 pm NEXT Shoojit Sircar, Piku, Madras Cafe, Vicky Donor, John Abraham, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Tanu Weds Manu, Censor Board, filmmaker, director, Indian cinema, bollywood, idea exchange, indian express, indian express idea exchange X Shoojit Sircar said, "I have never faced a problem with the Censors. Some really intelligent people are sitting in the board... Some films have created problems (with the Censors). They had genuine problems, they were done for that purpose." RELATED NEWS Income-tax rate with different slabs not complicated. It’s very scientific, done in most modern economies: Ajay Bhushan Pandey Not sure if state resolutions on CAA, NPR can stand scrutiny: Jairam Ramesh ‘There’s nothing we are doing that Lutyens wouldn’t have. It’s radical, but doesn’t rupture with past’: Dr Bimal Patel In this Idea Exchange moderated by Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta, filmmaker Shoojit Sircar says he had expected people to find his film on a constipated father ‘unhygienic’, talks about Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘child-like’ reaction to scripts, and confesses that he has never watched a Salman Khan film. Shoojit Sircar is among the contemporary crop of filmmakers who are redefining Indian cinema. Known to push the envelope, his recent movie Piku, which showed an unconventional relationship between a father and a daughter while dealing with a subject such as constipation, has done well commercially and won critical acclaim too. ADVERTISEMENT His last two movies — Madras Cafe, based on the civil war in Sri Lanka and Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, and Vicky Donor, which talked about the taboo subject of sperm donation — were equally off-beat, bold and commercially successful. Shubhra Gupta: Piku and Vicky Donor both revolved around bodily fluids. What makes you so fascinated with something people would not talk about in their drawing rooms? I don’t know how an idea strikes. I’ve done a lot of ad films where an idea can be translated in 30 or 40 seconds. But in a movie, an idea needs to be stretched for two hours, and requires you to draw a bit from your experiences in life. ADVERTISEMENT I’m not fascinated by bodily fluids, no. The idea of a relationship between a daughter and her constipated father just came to me. I thought it will give insight into something we face every day in our families. I felt that if I don’t play to the gallery and be realistic, I will be able to sell it. But, I didn’t expect the love, the response the film has got. I thought a lot of people may not like it or even find it unhygienic. Because the word constipation is taboo, like sperm donation. Shubhra Gupta: Our certification process makes it difficult to make movies on recent history. In your movie Madras Café, which is about recent history, you could not name Rajiv Gandhi or the town in Sri Lanka. How did you manage to make it? If I had used real names, I don’t think Madras Cafe would have ever seen the light of day because it was a political film, an adaptation of a true incident. I was also sceptical about whether the film will be taken well by people. During our research in South Mumbai, nobody, especially the youngsters, could recognise Rajiv Gandhi. Somebody said he was Rahul Gandhi’s father. Delhi and Indore were more politically aware. So my studio was puzzled as to where to push this film. ADVERTISEMENT It’s a relief I could make Madras Cafe and get away with everything — whatever I wanted to say, whatever sides I wanted to take. I was sitting on the script for 8-9 years and never thought I could pull it off. Shubhra Gupta: Was it because John Abraham came on board that you could make Madras Cafe? He also produced Vicky Donor. How important is having a star on board for such unconventional films? My film Yahaan, which was on Kashmir, didn’t work. Then there was a seven-year gap before I did Shoebite with Mr Amitabh Bachchan but that got entangled in legal issues and has not been released. I was disheartened and depressed, but then Vicky Donor did very well at the box office. So the studios were confident about my next movie, Madras Café. Yes, with John, you draw some fans. People look up to what John is doing and I think he did one of his best performances in the film. So yes, it gives a little bit of a push to the film but beyond the Friday first show, nothing works apart from the content, unless it’s a Salman Khan movie. Shoojit Sircar, Piku, Madras Cafe, Vicky Donor, John Abraham, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Tanu Weds Manu, Censor Board, filmmaker, director, Indian cinema, bollywood, idea exchange, indian express, indian express idea exchange Shubhra Gupta: Do you like watching Salman’s movies? I’ve never watched his movies. Coomi Kapoor: Was it difficult working with Amitabh Bachchan? Despite the legend that he is, it is very easy to work with him. As soon as he gets a script in his hand, he is absolutely childlike. You can mould him the way you want. Obviously, he has got his own views because of his 45 years of experience in the industry, but it is really easy to convince him. If he sees the director’s vision, he will work the way you want. He just wants a good script. It is a lollypop that you have to give him. Shailaja Bajpai: Madras Café and Yahaan were related to insurgency; Vicky Donor and Piku are about bodily functions. How do you work with different genres? I am myself not too sure where I will settle and which genre I am comfortable with. I won’t be able to do song-and-dance obviously. My theatre background in Delhi helps me to relate with what is happening around me. Yahaan, for example, was based on a 1996 Indian Express article. Theatre has groomed me to pick up insightful, profound subjects. I won’t go for a box office-driven subject just to entertain. Piku had constipation and we all laughed, but its other side, the layers — the roots of Piku’s and Bhaskar’s thoughts — are very important for me. Vandita Mishra: When you cast Amitabh Bachchan, isn’t it your biggest challenge to make him less of Amitabh Bachchan — to de-stylise him, de-mannerise him? I was really apprehensive that a legend, a superstar may not agree to say lines such as mango pulp, mucus, constipated. But he agreed. He worked on his look and we worked as much as we could on his diction. And we felt that at some point, he became more Bhaskar Banerjee than Amitabh Bachchan. Monojit Majumdar: But Amitabh Bachchan did not get his Bengali accent as right as Deepika Padukone. Also, you had Irrfan Khan and Amitabh together in the film. Do you think you missed some sort of interaction or moments which could have lifted the film up a bit more? I’m satisfied with the film. I never thought here is Irrfan and here is Mr Amitabh Bachchan and I have to play with both of them. It was definitely an Al Pacino-Robert De Niro situation for me, but I did not play to the gallery and said, let’s mash it up with both. I just wanted to tell the story of Piku. Mr Bachchan mostly got the Bengali accent, though at a few places, it sounds a bit Bhojpuri. But I let it go because of a Hindi audience. I didn’t want to become rigid about the accent. I shot the movie like a theatre performance. I gave them the script, the lines, the space and said now you guys perform and let me just sit in the corner, see and correct you here and there and hold the camera. So what was happening was when we were concentrating on the Bengali words, the performances were becoming more mechanical. So I let it go. Shubhra Gupta: Were you intimidated by Amitabh Bachchan’s superstar status, in not correcting him at times? Never. We shot a few scenes twice or thrice and he would call me sometimes at around 1.30 am — I go to bed quite early — and say, ‘Can we do this scene again tomorrow… I should be standing up in it’. So, I would call my production guy to reshoot, and they would say, ‘Why are we losing time’?’ And I would tell them not to worry. Shubhra Gupta: Did you ever refuse his request to shoot again? This film is actor-driven. I had to win their trust completely. They had to be themselves, even Deepika and Irrfan. If they wanted to re-shoot a scene, I’d let them. On my editing table, I’d see what I could do. You have to give Mr Bachchan space for his 45-year experience. Ambreen Khan: Women are getting better roles in our movies now, for example Kangana Ranaut in Tanu Weds Manu. What does this say about our cinema? Kangana has been commendable of late. The leading ladies are exploring themselves beyond just song-and-dance. In the last 8-10 years, cinema has gone through a roller coaster ride. I never thought Vicky Donor would work this way. The film had a very small release — just 500 prints. But when it worked in the first few days, more prints were released. If a family can watch a sperm donor film together, it is an eye-opener for me, the writer, producer, etc. Shubhra Gupta: Many struggling writers say they have these brilliant stories, but filmmakers complain of lack of good writers. How come no bridges are being built between writers and filmmakers? I read a script a day. See, you can write very good words, very good sentences, very good concepts. But the art of screenplay is different from writing just a story. Very few get the hang of the screenplay. What they write is pure television, an extended version of a telefilm. It is not cinematic. I tell everybody to watch (Satyajit) Ray films, and you will know where cinema comes from. There is no depth in our writing. Otherwise, our cinema would have been on the global platform. We see Iranian cinema in our homes, but not Bengali or Tamil or Malayalam cinema, where there are so many subjects and so many writers. But we will all still watch a small Marathi film, like Court. Seema Chishti: Hindi cinema was meant to appeal to the maximum number of people and maybe the thin spread of the market needed it to be the lightest cinema. But what has made it change, as you said, in the last 8-10 years? What has allowed Hindi cinema to make movies like Vicky Donor and Tanu Weds Manu? I have a different take on this. I feel this kind of cinema always existed. I have grown up watching films of Tapan Sinha, Sai Paranjpye, Satyajit Ray. Paranjpye made films exactly like Vicky Donor. But at that time, jo gareeb film thi woh art film thi and it would release in one small Shakuntalam theatre and the big film would release in 200 theatres. So they were never promoted. Now because of multiplexes and people wanting to watch more content-driven films, we have got a place. But Bombay is also driven by box office. For my films too, people said gaana nahi hai, lip-sync hona chahiye, and all that — there is pressure. I still believe that if it works, it works. If they like it, they will ask someone else to watch it. What film the director is going to ultimately make, nobody has a clue. Studios put in huge amounts of money and the big Oxford-educated management people sitting there come up with jargon — plot point, climax, characterisation. They understand nothing and confuse the director because of which he sometimes takes a bad decision. But it all depends on the director, his basic honest thought, and the story he wants to tell in two hours. Shalini langer: The best moment in Piku was when Irrfan asks Amitabh why he was using emotional blackmail against Deepika. That was a rare acknowledgement of emotional blackmail in our films. This is the layering Juhi Chaturvedi, the writer, and I wanted to cut across, about when our parents grow old. Like Bhaskar says, ‘When you were a child, I did not leave you, now I am your child, you take care of me’. In every family, there is a moment when parents try to get the family together. That detachment does not happen, that is why the dialogue of one being a selfish kid. When Irrfan asks Deepika why her father follows her everywhere, she says, ‘parents ek time ke baad zinda nahin reh paate, unko zinda rakhna padta hai (Parents can’t stay alive on their own after a point. You’ve to keep them alive)’. Sushant Singh: Have any of your movies got into trouble with the Censor Board? I have never faced a problem with the Censors. I think some really intelligent people are sitting in the board and watching the films. When I went to them with Vicky Donor, I thought I would get an ‘A’ certificate because it talks about a taboo subject. Believe me, when they watched the film, they got the essence of the film and gave me a ‘U/A’. When I went to them with Madras Café, I was mentally prepared that it will go to the Censor Board in Delhi because all political parties will want to watch it. Again, without a single cut, they gave me a ‘U/A’. With Piku too, I thought they will take out the line, ‘my daughter is not a virgin’, but they had no problem. Some films have created problems (with the Censor Board). They had genuine problems, they were done for that purpose. They were highlighted to play to the gallery. There are sensible people sitting in the Censor Board… Muzamil Jaleel: Are you okay with the Censor Board in its present form? While social commentaries are acceptable, a political commentary may run into problems. Can we portray a political leader the way a Hollywood film shows an American president? Also, how would you compare acting in Bollywood with that in the West? Making political films is a big issue in India. We are not as democratic as we say we are. In Hollywood, they can make JFK, my all-time favourite. They can make films about the CIA. But yes, there is trouble here. We are a diverse country and that is a risk. So in terms of Censor Board, I do not know how it will go on. But things are opening up. Because of social media, things are getting closer to people and they can react. In terms of acting, we have Nawazuddin Siddiqui and in my film there is Irrfan, Deepika and Mr Bachchan. So I think natural performance is getting more space. But we have monetary problems. In Hollywood, a person spends two years on one film, and just rehearses and rehearses his scenes. It takes me a year and a half to write a script, but because of our small budgets, we hurry to make a film and don’t have time to nurture an actor. However, I think people have started slowly accepting the need to do one film at a time. Earlier they would be running from one set to another set, from one character to another.

    View Source:

  • For a filmmaker in India, there are way too many taboos. How do you get around these?

    I used to be apprehensive about which of my films will work where. But now things are changing. If my film releases alongside a Salman Khan film, then I will have to struggle for sure at the box office, but in terms of the content of my films, you will see I have done them my way. Now there are takers for films such as Queen, Badlapur or Piku. Even Paan Singh Tomar had no takers initially. The studios kept that film for three years and then released it. And it created magic.

    View Source:

  • How did you come into Films?

    One day, I was loitering around and I walked over towards the National School of Drama in Mandi House, where I saw some people shouting. They were part of a theatre group. I later saw a play at Kamani theatre that had Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Amrish Puri. I was transported into that world. Since then, something happened and I started watching more films. I had seen all the Ray films before that but when I started watching Ray films after that play, everything changed. Then I started a theatre group called Act One. In the middle of practice, I would say, ‘Come, let’s play football’. I have not studied films, so whatever I know it’s from reading about films and from watching Ray’s films.

    View Source:

  • You are a footballer. Will you ever make a film on the sport?

    Yes, I will make a film on football. If I hadn’t been a filmmaker, I would have definitely been a footballer. I am more faithful towards football than filmmaking. I am absolutely an incidental filmmaker. I was working in Le Meridien hotel in Delhi, a job I got because of my football.

    View Source:

  • Do you think Piku would have done as well if it had newcomers, and not Deepika or Amitabh Bachchan?

    It would not have had that box office pull because obviously a lot of people went to see Deepika. It was an unusual casting of three people. So definitely, we want stars because a lot of money is spent on that film and we want that to be recovered. As a director, my job is not to worry about the box office; my job is to see that the money spent on me is recovered.

    View Source: