The ability to disappear is a great trait for an actor: Shoojit Sircar
The award-winning filmmaker talks extensively about his recent release Gulabo Sitabo, directing Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, the women in his films, and more
Fresh off the release of Gulabo Sitabo, director Shoojit Sircar noted that his films are a reflection of who he is. The film, which stars Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, has come out to mixed responses. "Some people have loved the film, while the others were disappointed with the pace," acknowledged Shoojit, in a chat with senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai, as part of Indulge Time Pass, a series of webinars organised by The New Indian Express group. He further noted that he has slowed as a person, which, he said, showed in his previous film, October, as well. "I enjoy this pace. There is no need to agree with all of my films, but you can't ignore the art. If I don't come through in my films, I would be cheating my audience," he said.
Shoojit's creations have been vastly different from each other, but the director shared that they have all served to be life lessons. "You make films that somewhere steers you deep down, or shakes you. I don't make films for commercial reasons." And with Gulabo Sitabo, he wanted to satirise the greed that has seeped into us; that we know the price, but not the value. "That was the metaphor that symbolised the film's ethos. Satires are tragedies. And greed doesn't take you anywhere." The director further spoke in length about the open structure of Gulabo Sitabo, where everyone and everything is seen. "The actual place is located in Kaiserbagh, and is part of the Mahmudabad Palace. After seeing it, I asked Juhi (Chaturvedi) to make a few changes to suit the structure. When the DOP stepped in, he decided to use a single lens (30 mm prime) to ensure everything gets seen."
Gulabo Sitabo also sees Shoojit reunite with Amitabh (Piku and Shoebite) and Ayushmann (Vicky Donor). "Nobody could recognise Bachchan sir on the sets at first. They all saw Mirza. And I remember him saying he didn't know what he was doing in this film apart from getting 'scolded by everyone'," Shoojit said with a laugh. However, he noted that there's a lot of mutual respect. "Bachchan sir is an enthusiastic 20-year-old. He wants to perform; it is what keeps him ticking." With his hunch and mumbling, Amitabh disappeared into being Mirza in the film, like Ayushmann did for Baankey. "The lisp was Ayushmann's idea, and I absolutely loved it. For me, it felt like he jumped out from the sets of Vicky Donor and came to Gulabo Sitabo. If you look at Gulabo Sitabo, Ayushmann disappears into a crowd of characters. It is quite unusual for a star of this generation. This ability to disappear is a great trait for an actor."
Death is a theme that Shoojit has often studied in his film, with dignity and respect. "My fascination with death has been there for some time. I believe death shouldn't be mourned but celebrated. Everything is unplanned, but death is certain. This is why I believe in non-dramatising death and treating it with simplicity." The director mourned the unfortunate deaths of Sushant Singh Rajput, and Irrfan Khan, a close confidante. "I am still unable to get Irrfan out of my head. We have been close for the past two years, we have discussed everything except cinema. It is difficult to believe. I get a glimpse of him every time I close my eyes," he said.
Shoojit has completed shooting for his next film, Sardar Udham Singh in which he is reportedly taking on a new genre again. "It was a difficult film for me and I don't want to say much, but no one but Vicky Kaushal could have played this role," he said.