Interview By: AAKANSHA SHAKHEWAR
We get in a casual chat with Shilpi Dasgupta who is a first time director. She has touched a subject that nobody really wants to talk about with ‘Khandani Shafakhana’ and it is what everyone should actually be talking about openly without any hesitation. The whole cast looks great in the trailer and it was really nice to get to talk to this talented women. She is a perfect reason why the industry needs more women directors. To know about the film and what Shilpi had to say about the cast continue reading…
What has got you so excited for the release? Is it because of the cast that you have on board?
Yes of course! It is because of the cast, an excellent producer, a wonderful writer and last, but not least, the exciting story.
How did you come up with the story?
My writer friend Gautam Mehra, it is actually his story and he came up with the idea. He narrated us the story and that’s when we knew we have to make this story. We worked on the story for 2 years and so this is how the story came to us through Gautam Mehra.
The entire subject is Taboo and nobody really wants to make a movie on that but you made it. So how challenging was it for you?
It was very challenging. From the very start we knew what we were stepping in. This was a very volatile surface; it was like walking into a volcano knowing that you are walking into it. I could have not found a producer for rest of my life and could have grown old looking for an actress but nothing like that happened. But what happened while I made this film my believe in the system became very strong because we are very much ready for the change. The country, people, youth and there is something which is definitely very ready for a change. So whoever has come our way, my way, during the making of the film right from conceptualization to the final stage; everybody who is involved in the film is a believer in the subject and nobody is doing it for any other reason. They believe in the subject and that is the reason they are in ‘Khandaani Shafakhana.’ So whether we believe it or not we are ready for a challenge.
Was Sonakshi always your first choice for the character?
I wanted an actress who will be Baby Bedi, because Baby Bedi was the star for me and I wished I had someone who could become the ambassador for a subject like this. When a person like Sonakshi endorses it the journey becomes that much easy and it was to my surprise that how well Sonakshi dwelled into the skin of the character and became it i.e. Baby Bedi. She had to let go off the image of a star but she carried it with such an ease and you will see it, feel it in her performance.
How much time did it take to convince her to do the film?
‘Two meetings’ were all it actually took. I wanted an actress and when I went to her she believed in the script and her mother was also there when I told her about the character and she knew the subject. If I write synopsis it’s a story about a small town girl who wants to run a sex clinic accompanied by niche taboo scenarios. But she heard the story and said let’s do it. So the rest is history.
How was the research part?
Just the way once upon a time there used to be beauty parlour before now there is fertility and sex clinic everywhere. Either there is severe dearth of sexual energy or reproduction but the fun part is we still have pregnancies taking place and it never seems to stop.
Or is it a dearth of sex education as well….
You have pointed out the right topic. So many states in our country have banned sex education but there is no state that has banned raped or child abuse molestation but sex education is the one thing that is banned.
People are really scared and ashamed to go to this sex clinic or take an advice from someone…..
Health problems take place and people beat up their wife because of it. They think the reason is their wife but they won’t visit a sex pert and get cured. It is a very dark world and we chose to say it in a different way. We are laughing at ourselves and saying the story with a lot of humour. But once you look deeper into the subject we all are at threat if we don’t recognise the demon.
While you were directing the movie, was there anything you specifically had in mind?
One thing on my mind was that whatever we do we have to do it with utter honesty. It should does not look like we have just tried to do anything. Let’s do it slowly and in full fun mode and the entire unit including the actors we have surpassed ourselves doing that. We have told the entire story in great honesty, a lot of humour and fun. This was the thing that was on my mind and we did it to which I can say ‘We have done a good job.’
Do you think it is a right time for such a movie?
Yes, in fact, it is too late because it would have been better if it came out before.
How was it directing Badshah for first time?
Badshah is a really genuine human. He is like a friend and a cute one. He is very sensitive and when he heard the script he said we should do this story. Every person that is connected to the story is connected to it because they believe in the story. He believed ion the makers of the film and the story because I’m not the reason he came on board.
As this is your debut film, are you thinking about the box office numbers?
I don’t know number wise but I’m an artist and I have made this film not for me but for the people to consume and retain. In that sense I would like the movie to reach to as many people as possible. People don’t get such chances and if I’ve received the chance I should make the best use out of it. I have been very lucky and this is my dream project. The film should deliver and if people have shown trust in me than they have placed a sort of responsibility on my shoulder and I’m suppose to deliver. What matters the most is what is the film saying ultimately. There are films that are hit instantly, then there are sleeper hits and then there are films that are loved after 20 years because people discard them initially. Much of the films are of similar kind which are talking something different. I don’t have a lot of pressure I just want people should come and see and see what I actually want to deliver and that is where I’ll be successful.
It took two years to write the script so why did you take this much time?
This is my first film and I wanted to give it time because this is my child and I’m giving birth to it. My second film might not have this much involvement in writing but I did for my first film and honestly it wouldn’t have mattered to me if I took 5 years to make it because I wanted to present it in the best way possible. This is not a benchmark and the people who have made it have put in time and the film has been made in a record time i.e. 6 months flat and the movie is out there to serve. We started the shoot in January 25th and it is done now and ready for release.