On the eve of the release of his ambitious film Lafangey Parindey, starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone, director Pradeep Sarkar tells Sampurn Wire’s Jyothi Venkatesh that he can handle even 26 heroines in one film but it is the script which dictates how many actresses he should have in his film.
Is Lafangey Parindey an action packed violent film?
This is not an action film. You may feel it is a maar dhad film because of the title but it is a film about hope and it is a love story. It is a gritty love story.
Does it mean that Lafangey Parindey is also a love story, like Parineeta?
I love making love stories. Ghoom phirke I make love stories, obviously because I am a complete romantic. Though I have become a buddha, mera dil to bachcha hai ji.
In what way is Deepika Padukone going to be seen in a different avatar in your film?
You have seen a glamorous Deepika until now. You will see a different avatar of Deepika in my film, with very little make up… almost no make up. When she started getting into the character of Pinky Palkar, I, in turn, started adapting my thinking from her. Pinky Palkar does not let anything come in her way, once she decides what she wants. There was no reference point for Deepika Padukone. She did rehearsals by closing her eyes. She shut herself. Deepika learnt to internalize blindness.
In what way is Neil Nitin Mukesh different in your film?
Neil Nitin Mukesh plays the interesting character of One Shot Nandu in my film. One Shot Nandu has a different style of fighting and prefers to fight with patti on his eyes. I did not know what kind of a fighter he is, when I offered him the role but I should tell you that the way he has handled his solo role in Lafangey Parindey is great.
Did you know both Neil and Deepika before you started shooting with them for Lafangey Parindey?
Frankly speaking, I did not know Neil and Deepika at all before I started shooting for the film with them. It was actually Aditya Chopra, who suggested that I cast Deepika. I was doing an ad with her in Chennai then for a saree. I went through rehearsals. They adopted the style and I started coping with that. Since the language is restricted, I knew that I can’t play around. I was conscious about it.
What was your approach as a director when you set out to direct Lafangey Parindey?
I wanted to surprise myself. I wanted to explore things which I did not know. I had explored Mumbai through ads. But this time I have discovered Mumbai through my film. I am showing a gritty world in Lafange Parindey. If you are not convinced how can you convince others? It is as simple as that. It was a chance for me to come up with a subject which I had not tackled before.
Have you patched up with your protégé Vidya Balan after the spat you had when she did not act in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag?
When I decided to cast Vidya Balan in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, she did not want to do that film because, besides the fact that she did not have time for my film, a lot of people were queuing after her at the time. It is not that we had a spat. It was an amicable decision.
Why do you think Laaga Chunari Mein Daag flopped whereas Parineeta clicked in a big way?
When you start working, you work hard but after a point you leave it when it does not happen and God up there comes to your rescue. I suppose when I was making Parineeta I left it at one point and God came to my rescue whereas when I was making Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, I did not leave it to God. May be that was the problem. As far as Lafangey Parindey is concerned, I have left it entirely to God.
How do you succeed in enforcing discipline on the sets?
My discipline has come out of my stint on ad films. I make an audio board. The discipline really helps me in narrating my story.
Is it true that when compared to your earlier films, Lafangey Parindey has been a physically straining film for you as a director?
Yes. Action was very new to me. I learnt it from Shyam. It has been a very physical film. I have recently put on weight and there was constant running around and I became younger in the company of Deepika and Neil. I have grown very fat.
In what way is making a feature film different from making an ad film?
I am of the opinion that story telling is the same whether I make ad or a film.
Whom do you like among the new directors today?
There are quite a few new directors who are experimenting like Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Basu etc. It is just incidental that they also happen to be a Bengali like I am.
Satyajit Ray had once said that he did not want to make a film in Hindi after Shatranj Ke Khiladi because he felt that he was better off making a film in his mother tongue Bengali. Though a Bengali, you have never made a film in Bengali. Why?
Satyajit Ray, whom we used to call Manikda, affectionately is God. You cannot compare him with me. The reason that I have not made a film in Bengali but prefer to do films in Hindi is that I have been brought up in Delhi, though I was born in Kolkata. My music director R. Anand does not know Hindi at all, but he composed all the songs in Lafangey Parindey in Hindi. Music does not have language. Parineeta ran as much in Mumbai as in Kolkata.
You seem to be lazy as a film maker since you have made just three films in a span of eight years!
Till date I have made three films- Parineeta, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and now Lafangey Parindey. The reason I have made just three films in a span of eight years is that I earn my daily bread from ad films. I feel I should make a film with shorter gaps.
How do you extract performances from your actors?
I had actually made a story board but forgot when I started making the film because I wanted my actors to feel while acting , especially since it is a mood oriented rugged film. Generally, I leave an actor to interpret his or her character in her or his own style. I put them in sur only if they stray at times. I do not act or show the actor how to enact. I’d rather copy them than let them copy me My plus point is framing it comes as singing comes to a singer. I brook no interference on the sets. Thoda bahut interference tha magar zyada nahi tha. I tell my actors that I want them to understand the scene and act. Film making is not arithmetic
Do you prefer to make films with just one heroine because you are worried that you will not be able to tackle cat fights if you have more than one heroine in your film?
I can handle even 26 heroines in one film but it is the script which dictates how many actresses I should have in my film.
Though I have several scripts, I tell my wife by the time I learn by experimenting, it is time to go. Time has become very precious.
– Jyothi Venkatesh / Sampurn Wire