Director Subhash Kapoor speaks about “Phas Gaye Re Obama”, a satire on recession
President Barack Obama is done with his productive India trip but his popular “We Can” statement is still making waves. Director Subhash Kapoor has incorporated it in a hilarious way in his film Phas Gaye Re Obama, released this Friday.
The idea emerged from his own frustration after the industry virtually shut the door on him after his first film Say Salaam India had a low-key release in 2007. “The producers would say ‘We are facing recession'. The frustration was more from the fact that recession was something in which we had no role to play. Like many of our problems, it was also a creation of the U.S. So, in a way, to give vent to my anger I wrote a satire.”
Starring Rajat Kapoor, Sanjay Mishra, Manu Rishi and Amol Gupte, the film revolves around a U.S.-based NRI and a group of gangsters that operate in western Uttar Pradesh. “I thought when the whole world was affected by recession how could the underworld and politicians stay away from it. So I created a set of gangsters who have no money in their pockets. They pin their hopes on an NRI, who also turns out to be hit by recession.”
Subhash was a journalist before turning to cinema and has covered Northern India extensively and it reflects in the dialect that the characters speak. “Kidnapping has become an industry in the region and often the characters involved in action have a humorous take on life. The character of the politician played by Amol Gupte is drawn from D.P. Yadav and Shibu Soren and some of his actions remind one of Raja Bhaiyya.”
But Neha Dhupia as a female don? “Hers is a larger-than-life character but, in a sense, it is also drawn from the world around us. While covering politics I have come across strong female figures like Mayawati, who after coming to power try to do all those things which a male politician does. If you expect some sensitivity from such politicians, you are mistaken. Similarly, this don in the film tries to outsmart her male counterparts in the kidnapping business.”
With content proving to be the king this year, Subhash says the year has been great for small-budget cinema. “I don't remember the last time when so many small films made an impact in a year. LSD, Udaan, Peepli Live, Tere Bin Laden, Do Dooni Chaar… the list is long. And at the same time, the so-called biggies like Kites and Raavan bit the dust. If you leave out Dabanng, stars have failed to make an impact without content.”
Subhash is now focussing on Jolly LLB, a satire on the judicial system. “For long we have a refined view of courts in our films. It's time to go beyond ‘Order, order' and arguments in rich Urdu. If you go to a local court in Uttar Pradesh, a judge has to listen to more than 60 cases a day and at times he gets confused about whether the person is accused of cheating or rape, leading to some humorous situations. There is a strong politician-lawyer nexus that needs to be exposed and the subject has become all the more relevant after the remarks passed by the Supreme Court on the alleged corruption in Allahabad High Court.”