MUMBAI: Pitobash Tripathy, who features in "Shanghai" in a pivotal role, accused Banerjee of ignoring him during the film’s promotion and marketing. Dibakar Banerjee says he understands the actor’s frustration as he himself faced the same humiliation and adds that he would like to work with him again.
"I’ve gone through what Pitobash has. It’s not that I was being demeaned. Pitobash is not wrong. He was discriminated against. He spoke not in a pre-meditated planned way but in a spontaneous burst of anguish and humiliation. I understand his sense injured pride. I’ve felt it too. And at least he has me to blame for the discrimination he had to face. I have no one to blame," said Banerjee.
The director himself went through constant humiliation. "’Shanghai’ was a small film and we were constantly counting pennies. I was shown my place constantly. And the humiliation continues even after the film is released. I faced many insults. I repeatedly had to grovel and beg for the smallest of expenses," he informed.
These are the repercussions of star system, he feels. "When it came to stars, I was treated like a second-class citizen. When we toured cities, the star’s room would be ready immediately. And believe me, I’ve less reason to complain than the crew who often had to wait even longer hours for the simplest of amenities. It’s the nature of the star system. Once I got lathi-charged in the parking lot of an awards function. ‘Gaya tha award lene maar khake aa gaya’," he said.
For a recent global awards event in Singapore, the director had to fight tooth and nail to get the ‘Shanghai’ crew into Singapore. "…I had to sacrifice the actors to get the technicians over to Singapore. I wish Pitobash had seen what I had to go through. I’m being constantly subjected to counter-preferential treatment…"
But at the same time Banerjee admits that "Shanghai had not been possible without Pitobash. "Without an actor of Pitobash’s talent ‘Shanghai’ wouldn’t have been possible. That he was left out is unfortunate. And I take the blame… May be at some points I slipped up and ignored Pitobash because it’s the stars who get visibility for a film. The pecking order is a harsh reality…I think Pitobash spoke on behalf of many neglected actors in the film industry," he said.
However, Banerjee, is quick to point out that everyone was treated equally on his sets. "…I dare Pitobash or any of the actors to accuse me of preferential treatment on the sets…," he said.
The director refutes the charges that "Bharat mata ki jai" song was Pitobash’s solo, but Emraan Hashmi had to be included to make it saleable. "It was always Pitobash and Emraan. But the lyrics of described the life of the political goonda that Pitobash played. And yes, I’ll hundred percent cast Pitobash again. I think ‘Shanghai’ has taken him to another level," he said.