Cinema

From the mountains

A still from ‘Kanchi’.

A still from ‘Kanchi’.

“I wanted a break,” says director-producer Subhash Ghai, when he reflects on the five-year gap between his last directorial Yuvraaj and his new film Kaanchi , releasing today. The break, he feels, was necessary to rethink his choice of films after the debacle of Kisna and Yuvvraaj . “I’d still maintain that both were classy and fantastic films. For a long time I had made films that were considered ‘massy’ or masala commercial films. As a filmmaker becomes successful, it’s necessary to evolve and expand his scope. I wanted to make films for an international market and made Kisna and Yuvvraaj , just like Raj Kapoor hoped with Mera Naam Joker . But in the bargain, I failed to cater to the domestic market and its sensibilities. So I thought let me get back to what I’m good at,” he explains.

Kaanchi is a story of a girl from the mountains travelling to a big city in search of justice. “The rustic setting is something I keep going back to,” says Ghai. He once observed a large group of college students in Mumbai holding a candlelight vigil. “Among them, there was also a girl from a village for whom the idea of a candlelight march was new, but she spoke up in her own way about why she had come there. That got me thinking ‘what about women and their issues in rural or real India’?” says Ghai.

He wrote Kaanchi based on observations from real life but it took a while for him to begin the film. “In between, the tussle between Maharashtra government and my Whistling Woods film school needed to be sorted out. I cannot make a film under pressure. So I waited till things eased out,” he says. Then began the arduous process of casting. Kaanchi, he felt, would be best portrayed by a new actress. After meeting around 300 aspiring actresses, he finalised Kolkata-based Indrani Chakraborty and rechristened her Mishti. Kartik Tiwari of Pyaar ka Punchnama was roped in, along with old friends Rishi Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty.

The mention of Rishi Kapoor makes the director smile. “We are like family. When I approached him for Kaanchi , he was doing villain roles in Agneepath and D-Day . I cannot see Rishi as a menacing villain. I see him with guns, girls and a guitar and that’s the kind of role I wanted him for,” says Ghai. The film will see 61-year-old Kapoor in an energetic dance sequence.

Ghai feels Hindi cinema was at its best in 1950s before moving to more commercial formats in the 60s and 70s. “When I stepped out of the Film and Television Institute of Pune, I knew I had to make commercially viable films,” he says and admires the work coming from the current crop of directors. “We are inching towards world cinema in sensibility,” he says.

As the conversation draws to a close, he says, “A lot of people wrote me off after Yuvvraaj . I’ve tried to make Kaanchi the best possible way I can. I hope people appreciate the story of a girl singlehandedly taking on the corrupt and the mighty with her intelligence.”


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Printable version | Sep 29, 2022 4:27:43 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/from-the-mountains/article5944041.ece