Rituparno wants Abhishek in Bengali film
So enamoured is filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh with Abhishek Bachchan's performance in "Yuva" that he wants to cast the actor in a Bengali film.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
"I've been looking for a dark, brooding, intense presence like Mithun in Mrinal Sen's 'Mrigaya'. And I think I've found him (in Abhishek). We're meeting very soon."
After seeing "Yuva", Ghosh immediately spoke to Abhishek. The two met over lunch at the Bachchan residence, and Abhishek liked the story idea.
Interestingly, Abhishek has done a Bengali film - Raja Sen's "Des" where he played his own mother's son.
"Resembling his father is no longer an issue for his critics - thank god for that! He says he can't cope with the Bengali language, but that's okay because the character in my film doesn't speak much," Ghosh told IANS.
"I just loved Abhishek, Bebo (Kareena Kapoor), Rani (Mukherjee) and of course the film 'Yuva'," says the director, whose first Hindi film "Raincoat" has just been invited to the competitive section of the Karlovy Vary festival in the Czech Republic.
Does Bollywood feel threatened when internationally renowned regional directors like Mani Ratnam, who made "Yuva", and Ghosh make a Hindi film?
Says Ghosh: "I can't comment on that. But I love 'Yuva'. It's the kind of Indian film that can take us to an international level. It has the right blend of message and entertainment.
"In Mumbai, they keep talking about crossover films. Well 'Yuva' is a genuine crossover film. Look at a Tamil filmmaker crossing over to a completely different culture in Bengal.
"'Yuva' has pan-Indian relevance. It's about the homecoming of three young urban males. It's truly modern and fascinating, without being outrageous."
Does Ghosh empathise with Ratnam?
"He has made a Hindi film, 'Dil Se', which was panned in Mumbai. It was a wonderful film. Is Bollywood capable of rating Mani Ratnam? Is there anyone of his stature in Bollywood? Very few filmmakers can match his skills.
"I remember watching Mani's 'Iruvar' with Adoor Gopalkrishnan in Japan. If Adoor didn't explain the politics of southern India to me, I wouldn't have understood 'Iruvar'.
"To assess a work by Mani Ratnam we need someone as qualified as Adoor. 'Yuva' is as layered as 'Iruvar'. I'm going to watch it again.
"I've requested Mani to send me a copy with subtitles. It's high time Bollywood relinquished the formula."
Interestingly like Ratnam, Ghosh too crosses over to Hindi with a star-centric film.
""And why not?" he asks. "The stars bring a definite audience. Producers and distributors want the stars. Besides, actors like Ajay Devgan, Aishwarya Rai, Kareena, Rani and Abhishek are very talented. Just because they are stars, have they done less than complete justice to the films?"
The tentative release date for Ghosh's "Raincoat" is July 22. Karlovy Vary is the only international film festival that occurs before that date. Locarno and Venice film festivals come in August.
"Raincoat" is in the last stages of mixing. Was Ghosh as daunted by Hindi as Ratnam? Apparently Ratnam had to depend on his dialogue writer Anurag Kashyap even to brief his actors.
Sighs Ghosh: "I don't think I was inhibited by the Hindi language. Yes, I did have initial problems. But I took on the challenge with grace. In fact I've written the Hindi lyrics of the songs in 'Raincoat'."