Tag Archives: script

Jagga Jasoos: Anurag Basu opens up about Ranbir, Katrina and shooting without a physical script

Anurag Basu is one of those people who has the habit of finishing his sentences very fast while communicating. This only means you have to be extra cautious while listening to him, lest you miss out on words.

When I meet him at the Disney office, he seems relaxed in a blue floral half-sleeved shirt and loose trousers. Along with Ranbir, he has just delivered a succession of TV interviews and is still raring to go. The relaxed vibe could also be attributed to a different technique that he has been employing for his films.

Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in Jagga Jasoos. Image from Firstpost

“For both Barfi and Jagga Jasoos, I went ahead and shot the climax first. It gives you a sort of confidence and the entire film is clear in your head. I do this only because the climax of a film is the most difficult portion to shoot and if you are able to finish the most difficult portion first, then it’s like catching the bull by its horn,” explains Basu.

The germ of his latest venture Jagga Jasoos lies in his own daughter. After he showed Barfi to her and met with a disapproval, he was on the lookout for a subject that could appeal to his daughter and replace the Hollywood flicks synonymous with Disney and Pixar. Jagga Jasoos was thus born, a musical with a tinge of thriller.

The film also marks the second collaboration of Anurag with his ‘muse’ Ranbir Kapoor. “Ranbir is a great person and that’s why he makes a great actor” says Basu.

For the filmmaker, it was a task explaining the genre of the film to his investors. “It was very tough to explain, as there was no reference for this musical thriller. It was more like walking a completely dark path but then slowly as you move ahead, the vision became clear,” he says. Basu is a sucker for musicals and counts Mary Poppins, Sound of Music and the more recent La La Land as his favorites. He also cites a film that was made in his mother tongue Satyajit Ray’s Heerak Rajar Deshe, as one of his favourites.

To borrow words from Ranbir Kapoor, chaos is what best describes Basu’s sets. He reportedly never carries a ‘physical’ screenplay, as it’s all there in his head. Ranbir has admitted that when he was given the first narration of Jagga Jasoos, the entire movie was in his head but nothing on paper. “It’s just not possible to shoot a film without a screenplay. You have to have a graph with a beginning, middle and the end. You just cannot land on the sets and start shooting scenes. It’s just not possible. The script is definitely there somewhere, it’s either in the head, or in some drawer or in the back pocket of the director,” says the director, without revealing where he kept his script.

While the initial days of the film were marred with casting issues, there were also reports of some early scenes of the film being scrapped. As per Basu, only two small scenes were scrapped and nothing was reshot. The build-up to all this also resulted in negative publicity for the film.

“It’s difficult for both Ranbir and I to keep explaining and justifying. Ranbir is not on social media and I am hardly active. The film should speak for itself and there is no point giving justifications,” he clarifies.

Rumours related to Katrina Kaif’s commitment towards the film after her alleged split with Ranbir also did the rounds. Quiz Basu about it and he talks more about her professional commitments: “She has been amazing actually, and Ranbir and her compliment each other. They gave each other lots of space when on the sets. Both of them have behaved in a professional manner throughout the film.  It’s also very difficult for actors to give consistency when a film is in making for long. It was tough for them and they could have easily lost their interest.”

Basu also clarifies about the image of Govinda that’s been floating on social media these days. He clarifies that he did shoot with Govinda for a special appearance in the film, but because of some changes it could not find a place in the final cut.

Right at the helm of the film, I wonder what occupies the director’s mind. He jokingly reveals a grudge he has towards Ranbir. “I really want to work with most actors from the industry, but he is just not allowing me to. Kamina, karne hi nahi deta hai. There was a film planned with Shah Rukh Khan but something happened at the end moment, I am hopeful that after Jagga Jasoos it might just happen,” reveals Basu.

Manisha Koirala on Dear Maya: ‘I loved the script instantly; it’s a feel good film

After a five year break from arc lights, Manisha Koirala, who makes a comeback with coming of age drama, Dear Maya, was nervous about facing the camera.

The 46-year-old actress will be seen in the role of a middle-aged woman looking for love, and she says, “I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I was on the edge when I was facing the camera.”

Manisha has worked with some of the biggest directors back in the 90s like Mani Ratnam (Bombay, Dil Se), Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Khamoshi), Vidhu Vinod Chopra (1942, A Love Story), and now she chose to make her comeback with young director, Sunaina Bhatnagar, who has assisted Imtiaz Ali for six years.

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“I first read the script, I loved it instantly and so I decided to meet the director. When I met her, I knew that she will make a good film. Sunaina had made a good character sketch. She was very clear about the character’s psychology. It is a feel good film, and that is another reason it attracted me,” says Manisha, who’s working with a woman director for the first time in her career.

Says Sunaina, “Manisha told me that she was used to melodramatic, loud acting, so she wanted me to tell her if she was doing that. Somebody as talented as her was so honest about it and hence I knew it will be an easy process of shooting with her. Her sensibility is subtle and realistic. Even in those days she tried to keep it subtle.”

Interestingly, while her character in the film is shown being a victim to the pranks of two young girls, Manisha says, that she was a big time prankster in her hey days. “I have played many pranks on people,” she laughs.

After Dear Maya, Manisha is looking forward to Dibakar Banerjee’s Bombay Talkies 2 which has been made in small segments like the previous part. Then there is Sanjay Dutt biopic, “in which I play Nargisji. I have a miniscule yet an important role. It is like special appearance,” she says. “I have altogether worked on four films this year and played some interesting characters. Next year I have been offered two to three good scripts so let’s see how that progresses,” says Manisha.

Coming to the Dutt biopic, one wonders if she shared some notes with Sanjay Dutt particularly since both of them have been paired together in over half a dozen movies in the 90s. “Sanjay and I are like buddies but we haven’t spoken as yet about me playing Nargis ji,” she smiles.

Even as Manisha sounds awestruck by the work of her contemporaries like Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit, she can’t stop praising some of the current lot of actresses. “Look at Alia, Kangana and Deepika’s work, they are doing more meaningful roles now. I saw Udta Punjab, and I don’t know much about the film but I remember Alia’s work. She leaves an impact. I saw Queen years back, Kangana left an impact,” says Manisha.

However, she is aware that the dream roles may not come to her easily at this juncture. Recently Raveena Tandon had a funny take on the sequel to Andaz Apna Apna; she said that if the slapstick comedy was to be made today, she and Karisma may feature in the sequel only as a photograph: “You know how the sequel will begin? Both Lolo and my pictures would be hanging on the wall with Aamir and Salman crying that they have lost their wives. Cut to the next scene, they will be seen running after 21 year old girls”.

To this Manisha says, “That is so true, Raveena said it so correctly. But this is a kind of dilemma that all actresses go through. It is in Hollywood as well.”

“Manisha, who has worked with all three superstars, continues, “What is not natural is that these three Khans have still managed to survive. After being in the industry for 10 or 20 years, it is natural that you go down and some other energies, talent come in and they follow the same graph. But Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir are still on top. There is something god gifted in them. Nobody can replace them. It is a unique feature. We should admire their staying power, rather than feel bad.

Dear Zindagi movie review: Incredibly cute Alia, Shah Rukh Khan need a more consistent script

Dear Zindagi is clearly straining at the formula-ridden Bollywood straitjacket to give us a refreshing take on love and family, and for the most part it sticks to its guns. In the end, it does succumb to the pressure to bow to perceived public demand with passing mentions of what we have come to consider inevitable in every Hindi film, but the ride up to that point is so rewarding so often that it is tempting to look past those needless moments.

Writer-director Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi comes four years after her remarkable debut with English Vinglish. If that film brought the charismatic Sridevi back to the big screen as a leading lady after a 15-year hiatus, this one redefines the concept of hero and heroine in Hindi cinema.

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Dear Zindagi revolves around Kaira (Alia Bhatt), a talented young cinematographer in Mumbai who despises her parents, appears confident in her romantic relationships yet is ridden with insecurities about the men she is drawn to. Those insecurities lead her to deliberately hurt her boyfriends before they get a chance to hurt her. It does not take a degree in psychology for a viewer to figure out her behaviour patterns, but Kaira is naturally confused by her fears. She ends up seeking professional help, and with some wise counsel, finds her answers herself.

When one of the biggest stars in the history of Bollywood appears on screen about 40 minutes after the opening credits, it goes without saying that this is an extremely unconventional film. Bhatt’s Kaira is the focal point of the story from start to finish whereas Shah Rukh Khan – playing her therapist Dr Jehangir Khan – surfaces towards the latter part of the first half and is nowhere to be seen in the concluding scene.

In a male-obsessed industry still tending to subordinate women in most mainstream projects, this is a decision that shows guts on Shinde’s part and Khan’s evident willingness to experiment. That other MegaKhan, Aamir, took a similar gamble with rewarding results in Taare Zameen Par (2007), and this is a winning aspect of Dear Zindagi too.

SRK gets less screen time but owns every scene he is a part of. In fact, Doc Jehangir enters the picture just as the film is sagging and appears to be repeating itself. His arrival immediately lifts Dear Zindagi. It sags again occasionally thereafter, but never when he is around. Besides, there is such warmth in Kaira’s interactions with the Doc that it envelops the rest of the narrative too.

It is worth mentioning that Khan in this new phase of his career when he is acknowledging his age gracefully, showing us a dash of gray and a whiff of wrinkles, is looking hot.

Kaira explodes in anger at one point when someone describes her as a pataka (firecracker). Well, that’s precisely what Bhatt is – a pataka with pizzazz and verve. What makes her so impactful is that she has had an internal journey with each of her roles so far, and not so far allowed that journey to be overshadowed by her attractive personality. Kaira is simultaneously exasperating and endearing, and Bhatt remains in control of that difficult blend throughout.

Still, the film needed more matter to wrap around these two lovely stars, and Dear Zindagi too often does not. Some of that comes from the failure to build up the satellite characters who are Kaira’s go-to people in times of need. We get that she is pre-occupied with her own emotional struggles to the point of not noticing their problems, but that is no excuse for the writing to neglect them too.

Who is Fatima (Ira Dubey) beyond being a mature, married friend? Who is Jackie (Yashaswini Dayama) beyond being a sweet, supportive, possibly younger friend? Who and what is that chubby male colleague beyond being chubby and funny? Who is her brother Kiddo (Rohit Saraf) whom she loves, beyond being her brother Kiddo whom she loves? Who and what are her boyfriends Sid (Angad Bedi), Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor) and Rumi (Ali Zafar) beyond being a good-looking restaurateur, a good-looking producer and a good-looking musician?

(Spoiler alert) And then there are those two oh-no moments towards the end – you know the kind that make you say, “Oh no, you too Dear Zindagi”? One of them seems to go along with the traditional view that characters played by a major male star and a major female star must inevitably be attracted to each other if they interact long enough in a story; the other underlines the essentiality of a man in a woman’s life to make her feel complete. Both are fleeting suggestions, but they pull down the film’s assuredness about what it is trying to say until then. Oh no, you too Dear Zindagi? (Spoiler alert ends)

For this and other reasons the film is inconsistent and intermittently lightweight. Yet, there is much else to recommend in Dear Zindagi.

The use of music, Amit Trivedi’s breezy tunes and Kausar Munir’s conversational lyrics are lots of fun, as are Kaira’s many amusing interactions with her friends. DoP Laxman Utekar fills the film with pretty frames of Goa beyond what we are used to seeing of that picturesque state, and is just as imaginative in his focus on Khan and Bhatt’s faces. Watch out for the closing shots of Bhatt on a beach.

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From an industry that usually treats parents as deities deserving to be worshipped, it is also unusual to get a story that does not ignore these gods’ feet of clay, especially considering that Dear Zindagi is co-produced by Karan “It’s All About Loving Your Parents” Johar.

Above all, it is nice to see a film making an effort to destigmatise patient-therapist interactions, in a portrayal far removed from the “paagalkhanas (lunatic asylums)” of an earlier Bollywood era.

Dear Zindagi then is a mixed bag. I loved SRK in the film, Bhatt is always a pleasure to watch, the story visits many themes that are uncommon in Bollywood, and several of the discussions are either witty or insightful or both. Overall though, the film comes across as being not enough because the writing needed more substance.

Dear Gauri Shinde,

You broke the mould with the delightful English Vinglish. Since you have defied convention in so many ways this time round too, you may as well have gone the entire distance without worrying about the consequences. We believe in you. Please do have faith in our faith in you.