Ghanchakkar director Raj Kumar Gupta says being an outsider in Bollywood helps break new ground
Raj Kumar Gupta’s success in Bollywood is proof enough that if you have a good story and can tell it well, you will make the cut with your audience. The director of critically acclaimed Aamir, his debut, and No One Killed Jessica, has now directed Ghanchakkar.
“Being an outsider has its advantages,” insists Gupta, who is from Jharkhand. “You can break new ground. There is no formula that you have, and want to stick to. We reach out telling stories and making films that inspire because we’re not exposed to the mindset that it should either be Formula A or Formula B.” Gupta, who was in Bangalore to promote Ghanchakkar, featuring Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi talks of how till he was almost 22, he didn’t know he wanted to be a filmmaker. “I’m not one of those who just looked into the mirror and knew he wanted to be a filmmaker,” he says with a shy smile.
“But then again I’m one of those directors whose films have worked critically and commercially. That’s because I make stories that inspire me…stories I want to see. I make it with sincerity. I’m honest to my craft and it has shown on screen, because people have connected to that.”
But he makes it look like it’s all smooth and easy for the outsider. Really?! There are struggles in every field, points out Gupta. “I don’t want to delve into those kind of stories…of what I did when I didn’t have money. I don’t want to patronise it. So it only looks smooth…of course there have been phases when you start questioning your confidence,” he smiles. It’s difficult breaking in into the industry because you’re not from the same environment, he stresses. “They are in familiar territory. We are not acclimatised to that. It takes time to understand the industry. I haven’t figured it out yet.”
What he has figured out though is how the audience works. “Credit should go to the audience. The same audience that is excited about watching a film like Dabangg may come to watch a film like ours, perceived as not having commercial value. They want to see how the script has worked, how an actor has acted…that’s a major change in the attitude of audience. And that’s for the betterment of films,” he concludes.
It’s because of such audience that he’s able to make a film like Ghanchakkar that marries thriller with comedy. It’s not everyday that you have a story of a bank looter who develops amnesia. Add to that a wife with an OTT dressing sense who loves to cook and feed his associates.
The story was brought to him by a new writer Parvez Sheikh. “I thought it was thrilling and I would like to take it to a space of humour. When we were done writing the script together, I realised it was comic, witty, and had an element of a thriller. Very few scripts have such a balance.”
Bringing together the successful pair of Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi fresh from The Dirty Picture success was not a conscious choice for Gupta. “It wasn’t like I saw their chemistry in The Dirty Picture and signed them on. It was just that we all loved the script for the same reason. It was very situational, not below the belt or over the top slapstick comedy. The script had a certain sense of quirkiness, and both Vidya and Emraan could challenge themselves as actors.”
His next directorial outing is called Raapchick Romance, he says. I gawk. What?! It takes me about three hearings to get the word even. “Raap means bindaas, you know?,” he finally grins.