Image of hero changing in audience's mind: Atul Kasbekar
The filmmaker says the definition of a hero is no more about beating up people to prove heroism as used to be the case in cinema earlier
Celebrated photographer and film producer Atul Kasbekar, who is gearing up for the release of his home production Tumhari Sulu, which features Vidya Balan as the protagonist, a middle-aged housewife, says the image of a hero has changed in modern Indian cinema.
After the success of his maiden home production Neerja, his second film as a producer also shows the story of a woman, but the age of the protagonist is different.
Asked what made him take the creative leap, Kasbekar says, "The image of a hero is changing in audience's mind. Whether it is Dangal where Aamir (Khan) portrays the journey of an over-weight, grey-haired old man, or Sonam (Kapoor) in Neerja -- the definition of a hero is not someone who beats up people to prove heroism anymore. Now, winning a larger-than-life situation in reality by someone in a realistic manner is praised as heroism." In Tumhari Sulu, Vidya's character Sulu is "an ordinary woman with the enthusiasm of seeking far more from life, and how she handles the situation with honesty, makes her a hero," he adds.
Kasbekar says Tumhari Sulu, which will be released on Friday, offers an old world charm in the love story of a husband and wife. "The idea behind backing a script like Tumhari Sulu is that its story is so relatable and fresh, and at the same time, the central character of the story is a hero sitting next to you that you do not notice often." As a production company, they also wanted to explore the genre that has not been explored much. "This film is slice-of-life has an old world charm that we used to get in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's film. For the longest time, that has not happened in Bollywood. So when Vidya came to us with Suresh Triveni, and we heard the narration, we happily took up the project," he adds.
Having started his career in 1991, Kasbekar is known for the photo shoot of the Kingfisher calendar from its inception in 2003. As part of it, he has photographed some of the top models and Bollywood heroines.
Asked if he tends to give suggestions for better visuals in his film productions since he has a strong visual sense, Kasbekar says, "Well, as a producer, I told my director to be open to everyone's suggestion. But at the end of the day, the film is his vision, so he is the best judge. Our aim is to create a platform to collaborate with creative people to make a film. The role of a producer is to facilitate creative idea, to give the director wings to fly."
"Another important thing is, after earning goodwill from the industry, with my 25 years of career as a still photographer, people have respect for me. So, instead of interfering, I simply suggest things if and when needed. That's when you get the respect, and suggestions are valued," he adds.