Director Vishal Bhardwaj admits Indian cinema is male-oriented and that he has taken a risk by making “7 Khoon Maaf”, which revolves around a woman. But he says he couldn’t resist the temptation to bring Ruskin Bond’s story on the big screen as it is.
“Women are a depressed part of Indian society. Men may look stronger but women are far stronger and most of the time men look for strength in women,” said Bhardwaj to a comment that it was courageous of him to make a heroine oriented movie.
“It is true that Indian cinema is male oriented and that I have taken a chance by making this film. But I was fascinated by Ruskin Bond’s story. When I decided to film it there was talk of changing the protagonist to a male. But I decided to take a risk and let a woman take the lead,” he said at a press conference at the 61st Berlinale.
The big screen adaptation of Bond’s “Seven Husbands of Susanna”, the film revolves around Priyanka Chopra’s character who marries seven times and all her husbands die under mysterious circumstances.
“7 Khoon Maaf” will have its world premier here Thursday in the Panorama section which chooses films for innovative narrative styles and unusually critical images of society.
When asked which of the seven husbands killed by Susanne he would advice Priyanka to keep, Bhardwaj promptly said none of them.
“I would say to her enjoy yourself but do not get married,” said the director amidst laughter.
Why he chose Priyanka for the lead?
“I was impressed with Priyanka when I met her. I found her very intelligent. That is how she came to do the small role in ‘Kaminey’. On the sets I realised how talented and hard working she is.
“I trust her as an actress. I like the fact that she is prepared to take risks. While working on this film she left Bollywood behind her and willingly concentrated on ’7 Khoon Maaf’ alone,” said Bhardwaj.
Priyanka couldn’t attend the fest because she is busy with last minute promotion details of “7 Khoon Maaf”, which opens in India on Friday.
Music is his love but the kind of films that were offered to him as a music director were not to his taste so Bhardwaj decided to make his own films and to compose music too.
Bhardwaj, who was first came to Berlinale seven years ago with “Maqbool”, attended the event this year with Hollywood screenplay writer Matthew Robbins, Anu Kapoor and Vivaan Shah.
While Robbins co-wrote the script of “7 Khoon Maaf” with Bhardwaj the latter play two of Priyanka’s seven husbands along with John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah.
Vivaan, the 21-year-old son of Naseer and Ratna Pathak, was first intimidated and nervous about working with Bhardwaj and superstar Priyanka.
“But both of them helped me to overcome my emotions,” said Vivaan who had no problem performing once he realised that concentration on his role is more important than concentrating on his emotions. Vivaan plays the youngest husband in the film while papa Naseer is the eldest husband of the same character portrayed by Priyanka.
To adapt it as a two hour performance on the screen, Bond’s story was stretched into a novella and later the screenplay was written to evoke both horror and empathy for the ‘sacred monster’ who is in the habit of eliminating the source of her disappointment every time she feels disappointed in her desperate quest for love.