Fan of the biopic

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CHAT Shekhar Kapur talks about movies and the role of mythology in creative thinking

focus on realityShekhar KapurPhoto: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
focus on realityShekhar KapurPhoto: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

He has been a jack and master of many trades. Shekhar Kapur started his career as an chartered accountant, before switching over to films, directing commercial successes such as Mr.India and critically-acclaimed biopics such as Bandit Queen and Elizabeth . He dabbled with creating a comic book series and has been working on his next movie Paani , a take on the ill effects of privatisation of water resources.

He was in Bangalore for a conversation with author Amish Tripathi. Talking about his upcoming movie, Shekar contends, “Water is one of the key resources needed for the survival of the species. Privatisation of water resources has been occurring without any regulation and will lead to a massive crisis in the long run. This movie is an attempt to make people more aware about this crisis that has been created by human greed.”

What is his take on mythology? “I feel that most of our popular culture is derived from mythology. The best ads made by companies such as Apple and Nokia have taglines that are derived from mythical beliefs and thoughts. The most popular show in the United States is The Bible . The values that these mythological series promotes are very popular across the planet.”

While making films, Shekhar says that he is not a form-oriented director. “I look at the manner in which a story plays out and draft it according to the moral issues the characters face. Mr. India was a comic book-style novel, where a bunch of children manage to foil the evil designs of a dictator. In the case of Bandit Queen , it was a tale of how a woman manages to take revenge on people who had assaulted her. It was a story full of moral contradictions.” He adds, “I have liked making biopics. It gives me a chance to interpret a historical character. Biopics are always a matter of interpretation. Any memoir writing depends on the person who is writing. It is fascinating to take a look at and make a movie on an interesting person’s life. The issue I face in making biopics is the manner in which it could find acceptance in society today. Thus, you tend to dwell on the back stories and use it as a peg. For example, in a biopic about Gandhi, if someone brings in his awkward relationship with his son, that will provide a twist to the tale. In these times, we have seen people go out of their way to help their children, Gandhi’s tale is one that would change that discourse.”

Any talk of progeny in Bollywood is not complete without references to Sanjay Dutt’s conviction under the arms act. The conviction has seen many famous Bollywood personalities and politicians rally in support for clemency for Dutt. “On an emotional level, I would like to see him free. However, from a legal standpoint, it will not be the correct decision. The law must be equal for all.”





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