Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar is one director who has never shied away from trying new genres and experimenting with Bollywood. From debuting with ‘Yahaan’ followed by ‘Vicky Donor’, ‘Madras Café’ and now ‘Piku’, Shoojit has always emerged a winner in terms of his movies. Not only have his films been received well, but they have always left a mart on the viewers. In a candid chat, Sircar talks about his upcoming movie ‘Piku’, working with Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan and Deepika Padukone, and more. Read on…
All your films have been different from each other. Do you consciously try to make different films?
No, it is not a deliberate attempt to make different genre films. It is when and where the idea strikes. I definitely look at one thing in all the stories, whether it is serious, comic or satire, and that is there an insight on life or not? Is there a philosophical statement which one can take back home? I am not trying to preach. I will entertain you for 2 hours but then I look forward to a message as well. There are no other criteria apart from that. Also, ‘Vicky Donor’ gave me lot of confidence because I never thought people will accept it. In fact, after watching the trailer people doubted me. But I knew what I was making. Changing that script and making it into a ‘Grand Masti’ was a 2 minute job for me. But to be sane and address a topic which is sensitive was an art. Same way in ‘Piku’, you will see similar quirk in every day family which happens with all.
How did you manage to rope in Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan and Deepika Padukone for the movie?
When Juhi Chaturvedi and I discuss the idea and start writing the script, we decided to speak to Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan Khan. It is not like they give yes but they are aware that Shoojit is writing something. They were in our heads already. They knew we are coming up with something. In case of Deepika, there were discussions. I was sure of Deepika. I wanted her to be Piku. Juhi and Ronnie Screwala had other actresses mind, but in my mind it was only Deepika. Then I went with the script to Big B and he asked me who are playing the other characters to which I told him it is Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan. He has worked with Deepika before, but for him working with Irrfan was exciting. Irrfan is the International star we have. On the other hand, Irrfan was also excited that Mr. Bachchan is on-board. Everyone wants to work with Amitabh Bachchan and Irrfan was no different. So for me it was Robert Di Nero and Al Pacino moment - two stalwart actors coming together in my film. They were not intimidating at all. I think Irrfan was in love with Mr. Bachchan in terms of his process. And with Deepika, she was excited to work with Irrfan, because till date she has only worked with mainstream actors. That is how all three came on-board.
But were you ever skeptical to cast Deepika and Irrfan in a romantic pairing?
No I was never skeptical. I was very sure about it in fact. And I think the actors understand that I am not making a project. It is a film. They are working in the industry and are sharp and clever enough to understand where this director is taking them.
Did all of them try to outdo each other?
No not at all because they are three different schools of acting. In fact Irrfan said that if one wants to learn acting, they should just observe Mr. Bachchan. And Amitabh Bachchan is one actor who gives everyone their space. Irrfan is different kind. He is very calm and listens to all. But you will not realize when he will slip into his character once the camera rolls. He is that natural and effortless. Deepika is another school. She will grasp, rehearse, take couple of takes and then shoot.
When you have good actors, does it ever happen that there is a difference of opinion over a scene?
Many times it happens. But I am so sure about my script and I have worked so much on it that rarely someone can convince me to change it. Most of the times I convince them because I am very sure about it. And they are bound to have different opinions or questions regarding something which is good and healthy. That makes the performance clear. For example, there are times when Mr. Bachchan shoots for a scene. I am happy with it. But then he will call me up later and ask me – ‘you asked me to do this, which I did. But can I do it like this also?’ If I say yes, then he will say ‘We will shoot it tomorrow’. Initially you think that reshooting will lead to waste of time. But then if you think calmly, you should realize the integrity of Amitabh Bachchan to his role. Then everything moves aside. And then when you see Amitabh Bachchan shoot it differently, you feel convinced.
Can we call ‘Piku’ a road film?
No, ‘Piku’ is not a road film. Road journey is a very small part. It is everyday family quirk.
The music of the movie is catching up and Anupam Roy, a big name in Bengali music, is debuting with ‘Piku’. How did you manage to convince him for this one?
Anupam is already established in Bengal and he has done some wonderful music there. In recent years, no one has done music like him. So I wanted someone to do a different kind of music. Since the movie is very refreshing, I wanted the music to be melodious and soulful. I didn’t want dhikchak music. I wanted a melting music. Anupam also has a very melting voice which is soothing and hummable. Anupam gave soul to the movie.