New-age director Dibakar Banerjee talks to Sangeeta Yadav about the biggest concern in the filmmaking industry — distributors pulling out the movie from theatres within a few weeks — and about the making of Titli
Dibakar Banerjee, who has entertained us with films like Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Shanghai, Bombay Talkies and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, is now gathering laurels for Titli, a hot favourite on the festival circuit. Touted as one of the best films of the year, it has clicked with a large group of audience with its rustic and realistic content and a stark depiction of Delhi’s crime scene.
Released at Cannes in May 2014, Titli has since bagged the best film award at SAIFF, New York; Malatya International, Turkey; Gijón International Film Festival, Spain and Seattle South Asian Film Festival.“Titli was not made keeping in mind the international festivals. This kind of film is hard to make. It generates its own audience not just at the international level but in the home country as well,” Banerjee says.
Titli is inspired from its director’s real life experience.
“This story comes from Kanu’s experience. I don’t know what kind of criminal past Kanu has, but the story is basically written in Kanu’s blood, sweat and tears. It originated from his childhood and the Delhi he lived through. It comes from the struggle he has had with his family and that is why he made his father act in it,” Banerjee tells you.
He tells you that he was involved with the script and didn’t go for the shoot at all.
“When it came back for the edit, that’s where I contributed again. The film commands a creative independence. I was also taking care of the budget,” he says. The story ofTitli goes back to NFDC’s Film Bazaar where a rough cut was shown to the audience. “After watching that, a lot of international festival wanted this movie and there was almost a race to getTitli. We barely finished the edit and sent it to the festivals which is why when the film came back from the festivals, we had to sit down for further edit for the Indian audience. That’s what was released in India,” he says.
In the first week, the movie was screened at 229 theatres across India and garnered Rs1.46 crore. But the biggest concern for filmmakers is the screening of the film and how that’s ruled by distributors.
“A film so popular in festivals abroad is looked at a very different way by regional cinema and distributors. There is a preconceived notion that if a film becomes a hit at film festivals, it is considered unconventional, parallel cinema. Such films do not get many audience at theatres. Second, even if there is a slight drop in the number of audience, distributors pull it off the theatres within weeks. This has been happening since I made Khosla Ka Ghosla. Regional cinema and distributors need to be empathetic towards unconventional, parallel cinema, especially films likeTitli which was been marketed through word of mouth and digital platform,” he says.
Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi in the lead were remarkable.
“They are the finds of the year. I haven’t seen such real and spontaneous performances in any other film this year. You almost forget that they are acting,” Banerjee says.
Talking about Kanu, Banerjee says:
“Kanu is even more uncompromising than me which is why I think Bollywood will be even harder on him than it’s been on people like me and Anurag Kashyap. Kanu has a clear, creative vision and knows what he wants. People like him are always up against obstacles,” Banerjee asserts.
(The article was published in the Pioneer Newspaper- http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/titli-was-a-difficult-film.html).