Ad man turned director Pradeep Sarkar may be just one film old, but his next is being awaited with bated breath. While Sarkar directed Parineeta starred names like Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan, his upcoming film Laaga Chunari Mein Daag for the Yash Raj Films banner boasts of stars like Jaya and Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherji, Anupam Kher and Konkona Sen Sharma amongst others.
In conversation with Businessofcinema.com, Sarkar, who also has to his name the Indira Gandhi award for the best debut director, holds forth on his upcoming movie.
The first promo of Laaga Chunari Main Daag gave away a lot about the story of the movie. But the trend these days is to show promos, build curiosity etc. So why did you choose the other way around?
My movie is not a thriller. It is a family drama and moreover it is a journey of a woman. There is nothing to hide in it. It is a simple story and the beauty lies in what happens in the film and how it unfolds.
When people came to see Parineeta they knew the story, they also knew the story of Devdas and Romeo and Juliet. So Laaga Chunari Main Daag too is an age old story in that sense, but what happens in the story and how it happens is more important.
So the trailer was made to say about the film. The idea was to make people understand.
Is the movie on the lines of Aaina, as reported a few days ago?
Not at all. People will know that when they see the movie.
Laaga Chunari Main Daag comes across as a female oriented subject and Indian culture has been given a lot of prominence, like your previous film Parineeta.
Laaga Chunari Main Daag is a people oriented subject and the girl is the protagonist. It is a story of a family, their bonding and survival for dignity.
In my films, the place where people stay also becomes a character, the place is like a moving factor which helps to carry forward the story. I shot Parineeta in Kolkota because I knew the place inside out. I shot Laaga Chunari Main Daag in Benaras because I had shot 7-8 music videos there. The local people, the food, the small-small lanes, animals add a lot to the movie.
Moreover if you don’t take your actors to a real location, it looks like they are acting in limbo. In an air conditioned studio they may not emote well. For instance I had to shoot a scene on a hilltop in Switzerland, which I could have opted to shoot in croma also, but going to the real location adds a lot psychologically.< Page Break >
Is Rani the hero of your movie?
You know, I had told Abhishek that it doesn’t matter how big a role is. Now after seeing the movie Abhishek agrees with me.
Does that mean that Abhishek has a smaller role compared to Rani?
Well, the time period of his characters in the movie is not much, but I must tell you that character is of great importance.
These days the audiences are so accustomed to seeing comic, light hearted movies; do you think an emotional drama will rope in audiences to theatres?
People like the story, be it a comedy, family drama or Chak De! India. A person likes a story, which is told from the heart and that is what I have tried to do. I have made this film from the heart and I hope the intention has translated well on screen and gets communicated to the audience.
The casting of the films is very fresh, except for Rani- Abhishek. Did you pair them together for their chemistry in the previous works?
While a movie is in the writing stage and I am still creating characters I begin think of an equivalent actor to play them. Then I start developing it in that particular way and approach that particular actor to enact the role. So since it’s carved especially for them, they automatically find it familiar. So I am not casting them, I am predetermining.
I did not cast Rani and Abhishek together for their chemistry, but, I must admit that they do share an amazing chemistry.< Page Break >
In some cases after the success of a movie, the director tends to repeat his actors in his next movie as well. But you did not.
While writing what felt best, we approached them. What we got is superb. People will not see Jaya, Anupam, Rani, Konkona, Abhishek and Kunal as actors; they will see them as characters.
Why didn’t you direct your second movie with Vidhu Vinod Chopra?
Actually this story is Adi’s. He has been developing it since 11 years. When Adi narrated the story to me, I fell for it, I really liked it. I had tears in my eyes. Vidhu has seen the film and liked it. I hope to make Vidhu proud with Laaga Chunari Main Daag.
Do you have a contract with Yash Raj Films?
Yes it is a three film contract. So I cannot direct any outside feature film, but can continue to direct ad films and music videos.
They outsource movies for direction and production. They will finance, market and distribute movies. It is like a Hollywood style of working.
Which ad films and music videos have you worked on lately?
I worked on Britannia, TVS and Dabur ads. There are no music videos at the moment. I generally direct music videos for Palash Sen, so it depends on him. He is my doctor; he gives me life, so I have to do this for him (laughs).