Subhash K Jha speaks with Shoojit Sircar, the director of ‘Vicky Donor’. Here are the excerpts:
Shoojit, you’ve made a press statement lashing out at your Vicky Donor producers Eros International for not submitting your film as an Indian entry to the Oscars?
Please understand, my quibble is not against the film that has been selected. Barfi is a nice cute film and I wish Anurag Basu all the best. My grievance is with my producers who betrayed my trust in them.
From the beginning I kept Eros informed about how to go about taking Vicky Donor to various festivals and awards. From the day of release I gave them a list of areas that could be explored for recognition. From the outset I was very clear on this. Just because Vicky Donor became a popular entertainment film it didn’t mean it would be ignored for film festivals. I also kept asking them if they’ve submitted my film to the jury for selecting Oscar contenders from India. They kept assuring me it was all being taken care of.
Why do you think Eros chose to neglect your film?
I don’t know. Maybe they were reluctant to project a small film. A film’s producer should take a film as far as it can go without the director urging them to do so.
How is Vicky Donor small?
Please ask Eros. All I know is, my film wasn’t submitted for Oscar consideration. When after Barfi was selected I asked the jury they said they hadn’t received the film for consideration. My reaction was of shock and disbelief.
How did you have access to the jury?
Ram Mirchandani who is is one the line producers of Vicky Donor found out.
Would you say your film is more original than Barfi?
Who am I to comment on the content of others’ films? I’ve absolutely no problem with Barfi being selected. The jury is at liberty to select whichever film it wants. My grouse is with my producers. Vicky Donor deserved a fair consideration to go to the Oscars. I am angry and disappointed. And then when I got to know the jury hasn’t seen it I was in a state of disbelief.
Did you see Barfi?
Yes, it was cute. But every film has its pros and cons. I am nobody to comment on the jury’s decision. All I am saying is, my film deserved a chance to be selected.
If you had to select an Oscar entry between Barfi and Vicky Donor, what would be your choice?
It’s hard to be objective about my own work. But I’d definitely rank my film high for the originality of its story. It’s a high-concept film.
Do you feel betrayed by your producers?
For a director his cinema is his child. The child could be autistic (Barfi) or virile (Vicky Donor) it is equally precious to the parent. It’s definitely disrespectful towards a film and a filmmaker to. Rather than showing a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the film they (Eros) are just using it for commercial benefit. They continue to make large profits from the film. For me it’s critical acclaim that’s important. As a director I feel insulted.
Do you think this incident will sour your friendship with Anurag Basu?
I am not comparing my film or competing with Barfi or Paan Singh Tomar or Gangs Of Wasseypur. All I am saying is, Vicky Donor deserved a chance. Anurag shouldn’t take it personally. When I saw Barfi I congratulated him. God Forbid the same that happened to my film, happens to his. I am not against the film that has been selected to go to the Oscars. I am protesting against the apathy of my producer.
Would you work with Eros again?
Who knows about the future? I hope they don’t let this happen to any of their films. I am not grieving about my loss. I just don’t want producers to do this to any film. I am right now working round the clock on my next film Jaffna. I am going into a completely different genre. Hopefully my producers would be more responsive this time.
(Eros Entertainment refrained from commenting).