interview Ashutosh Gowarikar on the making of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey
After the box-office debacle of What's Your Raashee, Ashutosh Gowariker is back with a period film, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (starring a de-glam Deepika Padukone and Abhishek Bachchan). In the film, the director attempts to recreate the lesser-known Chittagong Uprising and brings into focus the life of freedom fighter Surjya Sen.
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is based on Manini Chatterjee's book, “Do and Die”. What was your first reaction when you read the book?
After reading the book I was shocked that I knew nothing about this uprising and how Surjya Sen and his 64 revolutionaries had planned a huge armoury raid. It was fascinating to read about how 59 teenagers formulated the plan. I immediately thought of translating it on to the screen. I approached Manini Chatterjee, who is the Editor of The Telegraph, Delhi. I bought the rights from her and sought her help in the film's making. I wanted to make sure I tell the story accurately.
What kind of guidance did you get from her?
Manini is the daughter-in-law of revolutionary Kalpana Dutta with whom she has spent a lot of time. While writing the book, Manini interviewed many survivors of the uprising. So she has a first-hand account. Also, she helped us get the details such as language, clothes and the lifestyle right.
What's Your Raashee was also based on a book (Madhu Rye's “Kimball Ravenswood”) and it didn't work. Why did you decide to make another film based on a book?
A film's success is not in your hands. The intensity, faith and dedication with which I made What's Your Raashee went into the making of this film too.
Abhishek and Deepika have not done a period film before. How did you think of casting them?
I don't believe that an actor's inexperience in a particular genre is a deterrent. When a filmmaker takes up a period subject, he does enough research so that he creates the appropriate ambience for the actors and technicians. If you see Kalpana Dutta's pictures, you will notice that Deepika bears an uncanny resemblance to her. Apart from her acting prowess, the simplicity that Deepika has brought to Kalpana's character is commendable.
How comfortable was Deepika in a de-glam role?
She fascinated me because she would always be on time and ready with her lines. She was extremely professional and warm. She enjoys doing all kinds of films. I am sure she must have enjoyed doing Lafangey Parindey as much as she enjoyed doing Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.
Are there romantic scenes in the film?
There was a hint of romance between Kalpana Dutta and Surjya Sen. That has been captured. But, the focus is the revolution.
History and patriotism is common in your films. How do you connect to these subjects?
I have never made a period film. Patriotism is an emotion and I connect to it naturally. But, I cannot say it is a coincidence that three of my films are based on history. During my school days I was never interested in history as much as I am today. For me the story is paramount.
Dialogues play an important role in a period film.
I wanted it to be as real as possible. I didn't want to make a jingoistic film. The language should reflect the times. The dialogue is mostly in Hindi with a smattering of Bengali. It was a conscious attempt.
Your last film Jodhaa Akbar got embroiled in a controversy. Have you taken precautions this time?
Since this film is based on a book, we carefully re-created the details. But, controversies can come up anytime and you cannot always avoid them. But I believe every 50 years history is rewritten and when new students of history come, they have a different perspective.
There is a parallel film being made with Manoj Bajpai, Chittagong Rising. To what extent is it going to be similar or different?
Yes, I am aware of Shonali Bose's film with Manoj. It is unfortunate that both of us are working on the same subject but the approach will be different.
How long is the film?
Less than three hours. It is my shortest film (laughs).
Bollywood News Service