Dibakar Bannerjee is a brilliant filmmaker; one who writes innovative stories, and narrates them in an original, visually engaging manner. He also never insults the viewer’s intelligence. There’s another aspect of his film making that has always struck me- He brings out the finest from his cast- remember Abhay Deol in Shanghai, and Emraan Hashmi in the same film? Do you also recall his discovery, actor Rajesh Sharma (Munjal) in his very first film ‘Khosla ka Ghosla? That Dibakar gets his actors to expand their repertoire is evident in Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance (subtle & convincing) as Byomkesh Bakshy. The film itself is a masterpiece.
Ever wondered how Dibakar manages to bring out the best from ‘stars’?
An experience I had recently might shed some light on this.
It was one of those good, albeit busy days when I was to interview two enviable cinematic minds- Vidhu Vinod Chopra & Dibakar Bannerjee. Yes, these are the sort of good days we film journalists look forward to. I had just concluded an engaging interview with VVC. After that, I was rushing tointerview Dibakar, quickly prepping my questions mentally when an email pinged in my mailbox. In ALL CAPS, the subject line said, ‘LEAKED!’ the Climax of Byomkesh Bakshy!’
Attached to the mail was a youtube video clip.
While on the road in Mumbai, I prefer not to do much with my phone. I also find it difficult to watch videos on a phone screen. So I let it be.
However, when I landed at Yashraj Studios, I realised that there would be wait time involved. To kill time, I got chatting with the familiar bunch of young, chirpy digital journalists. Which is when I also realised that except for two of us, no one else seemed to have received the video. By now, on collective demand, the video simply had to be seen!
Here’s what the clip showed- Sushant Singh Rajput pulling off a beard while dressed in the villain’s robe.Sushant nearly walks into the shaky phone camera that had ‘secretly’ shot this video.
Suddenly, everyone was abuzz with overwrought passion & heartfelt emotion in favour of Dibakar & the misfortune that had befallen his film, two days before its release. While discussing this, Urmi, one of the younger journalists, did skeptically suggest that this was probably a publicity stunt as the PR firm in charge of the film has pulled a similar one before. But her opinion was shooed off. I was bewildered by everything and also everyone around me; to me, it was just fun to listen and observe.
The interviews of course, continued and so far, the leaked video’s news had not been shared with YRF (the studio presenting the film). I did suggest we warn them first, and let them take suitable action.
Before that though, 3 journalists stepped in together to interview Dibakar, and spoke of the clip.
And thus- unfolded some seriously good (real life?) drama. Dibakar’s face seemed to lose colour, he paced out of the interview room, apologising and promising a quick return and strode off to the lifts with two panicky young employees from the studio. Murmuring ‘does Adi know about this?’ he went ahead. And the murmur ricocheted across the walls & corridors so that all of us present heard and absorbed it. Naturally, most of us concluded, that poor poor Dibakar! This must be seriously upsetting!
As the clock ticked away, I wondered if we should indeed reschedule the interview. I said this to him when he strode back in a nicotine hazed, controlled panic; even as the young employees hurried off to get the digital team ‘in action’. When I mentioned ‘reschedule’ he said no, he must complete all interviews today.
And then something curious happened- amidst the bedlam, and the natural sympathy, a key employee to YRF marketing just left for home!
Which is when seeds of doubt were first implanted in my head.
Of course, Dibakar spoke articulately & passionately in my interview. And of course, in my standard foot firmly parked in mouth way, I assured him that leaks neither hurt nor help a film’s fate. My expression was dead pan but my intentions were entirely noble- I only wanted to reassure him. Dibakar didn’t react to my remark. Now I know why. Given the moment in play, I must have seemed thick skinned.
Given the circumstances, a friend and I travelled home chattering away about the dramatic situation we had just witnessed.. That’s when ‘Voice of Reason’ (my long suffering husband) calmed me down, and asked me to view this in perspective. The camera, shaky as it was, had shot Sushant at a close range. This leak, therefore, was Not organic.
When he calmed me down, despite my indecisive state of mind, I also realised that Dibakar is the man who gave us a brilliant film in “LSD’. In a manner of speaking, he told us some of the most productive uses of the camera phone!
So then I exercised neutrality, and thankfully, the head office at Pinkvilla approached the story with restraint.
But Dibakar’s panic seemed more than real! I was genuinely worried about him. Once the dots were joined, this publicity stunt turned out to be what it was. And was he entirely part of this strategy? The jury’s still out on that.
Hypothetically assuming Dibakar was in the know of this whole publicity stunt, his performance (of panic and worry) was pitch perfect. Now do you understand why I argue that he gets the best from his actors for a film? Perhaps because he himself is as natural born a performer as they come!
And thus, the experience around the interview, in this case, proved more rewarding than the interview itself!