September 9, 2010 (Sampurn Wire):Though Dibakar Banerjee's next film is called Shanghai it won't be shot in China. And though this political thriller has a wonderful role for the female protagonist, it won't star Katrina as expected.
But Banerjee is sold on his old favourite Abhay Deol. What's more, the uncompromising director has even modified the main character in the script of his next film Shanghai accordingly.
Says Dibakar, "When Imran opted out I re-wrote, rather modified, the role for Abhay."
�Dibakar now hopes that Abhay's next two films, which are out-and-out commercial ventures, would work. "This would automatically helpmy project to acquire an enhanced commercial clout. Although, let me add we're making it on a tight budget of Rs. 12 crores, with no frills. Shanghai is not an extravanganza. And it certainly won't be shot in China!"
The film will be produced by PVR. Thanks to the success of Prakash Jha's Raajneeti, gritty political thrillers seem to have a life beyond the film festivals. After three avant-garde successes in a row, Dibakar Banerjee is all set to start his fourth feature film, a political thriller entitled—hold your breath—Shanghai with Abhay Deol in the lead.
Laughs Dibakar, "I told my writer, thanks to the success of Raajneeti we now know there's a market for more than just teeny bopper romances and farcical comedies. Shanghai, let me tell you, is not set in China. The title describes a mindset. Beyond that I wouldn't like to reveal the plot."
This is the same project that Dibakar wanted to make with Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif. "But Imran said no to Shanghai," informed Dibakar. "That's when me and writer Urmi Juvekar decided to change the character. With Imran out, the script suddenly became more gritty. The protagonist's character was na�ve and innocent when Imran was to play him. Now he's not that innocent."
Dibakar hopes that Shanghai would take Abhay's career to the next level of stardom. Says the director, "When an actor evolves the project too changes. When I did Oye Lucky Lucky Oye with Abhay, that was a different actor. Today after Dev D (for Abhay) and Love Sex Aur Dhokha (for Dibakar) we're both in a different zone creatively."
Dibakar recently returned from the Munich Film Festival which concluded on July 4. His Love Sex Aur Dhokha had four screenings in Munich. Dibakar was overwhelmed by the response, "The Indian films in Munich were not your typical Bollywood films. Nor were they obscure offbeat kinds. They were successfully unconventional films like mine and Abhishek Choubey's Ishqiya. One of my screenings was held on the day Germany was playing for the World Cup against Argentina. And we were still full!"
Dibakar feels the praise for LSD from abroad is a sign of the changing attitude of the West to our cinema. "What I liked was the fact that we were judged as world cinema, not 'Bollywood'. 70 percent of the audience at each screening was German. I feel Indian cinema will take a while to not be seen as anything more than a diversion by international audiences. But we're getting there."
Back home, Dibakar continues to spend all his waking hours with his adopted daughter. Says the proud father. "Ira now has two front teeth. Watching her become an integral part of me, my wife, and my life, is the greatest joy I've experienced. I plan to return to direction next year."
-- Subhash K Jha / Sampurn Wire