Filmmaker-screenplay writer Vishal Bhardwaj is revelling in the success of “7 Khoon Maaf”, says the movies have now become a holistic experience in India, drawing more viewers and their taste reflects the country’s new sensibilities.
“This is the best of times for Bollywood,” Bhardwaj said.
“The arrival of the multiplex has changed the culture of movie viewing. The multiplex is bringing the audience back to theatre and film viewing is like a picnic. The malls, where most of the multiplex cinemas are located, have food courts and shopping enclaves providing for complete entertainment. After all, movies need audience,” Bhardwaj told IANS in an informal chat on the sidelines of the Penguin Spring Fever festival that ended March 13.
Bhardwaj was in the capital to participate in a literary discussion “Lights, Camera and Action…” with writer Ruskin Bond about his movie “7 Khoon Maaf” based on Bond’s eponymous novella “Susanna’s Seven Husbands”.
The session was anchored by writer Mahmood Farooqui of the “Besieged: Voices from Delhi 1857″ fame.
Pointing the new trends in the industry, Bhardwaj said, “New kind of movies are being made in Bollywood, unlike before. The movies are real – based on real life characters. The audience is seeking entertainment in realistic cinema. Movies like ‘No One Killed Jessica’ are getting good audience. The audience has changed and it is a reflection of the country’s new sensibilities.”
His new movie stars Priyanka Chopra is a unusual avatar – the seven incarnations of a woman who delights in killing her husbands. The creator of critically-acclaimed movies like “Maqbool”, “Makdee”, “Omkara” and “The Blue Umbrella”, said “7 Khoon Maaf” was a black comedy, a genre with which Bollywood was not very familiar.”
“People are reacting to it with gusto. The reactions vary between extremes – some love it and some hate the movie for its audacious portrait of a woman. The audience cannot accept this kind of genre because we spoon-feed our audiences. The character of the protagonist Susanna is shocking. People still can’t think of girls in Bollywood movies dumping their boyfriends,” Bhardwaj said.
But the “women are gradually coming out of the stereotypes and are talking about some issues pertaining to identity, freedom and abuse openly. Women are becoming real characters and finding a voice in Bollywood,” Bhardwaj said.
Comparing “7 Khoon…” with his 2007 movie “The Blue Umbrella”, which was also adapted from one of Bond’s short story set in Himachal Pradesh, Bhardwaj said: ” ‘The Blue Umbrella’ was about good and evil you have inside you. It was the internal journey of both the characters – Biniya (a village girl) and a village shopkeeper, who stole Biniya’s blue Japanese Umbrella. ’7 Khoon…’ is about black humour. Either you will have to like it or find it distasteful.”
The challenge was to structure ’7 Khoon…’ script.
“I did not want it to be episodic – I wanted it to flow seamlessly. I had to compromise – in the sense – everything was so good that it was difficult to leave out certain episodes,” he said.
The director is planning to adapt more of Bond’s stories into movies.
“But I can’t divulge the names. What sets Ruskin Bond’s stories apart from the rest is that they are real people. The stories portray drama and conflict in everyday lives and are visually rich,” he said.
For Ruskin Bond, who is working on a new novel, three short stories and three children stories simultaneously, ‘Susanna…’ was a ghost’s story, inspired by the wilderness that surrounds his home at Landour in the hills of Mussoorie.
“She represents the animal world – the way we humans look at it. The female is the more dominant species almost like the female black spider, who eats her mate after mating with it. The queen bee kills the drones while mating. I have been watching animal behaviour over the years,” Bond, who had a cameo in “7 Khoon Maaf”, told IANS.
“I have broken new ground at 76 with a cameo appearance in a movie,” Bond said. And he was not averse to appearing in a movie again if “Vishal invites me”.