Friday Review

Let the audience choose

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Bollywood producer and director Harry Baweja recently launched the teaser of “Chaar Saahibzaade: The Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur”, the sequel to his 2014 hit, “Chaar Saahibzaade”. Earlier known for his commercial flicks like Diljale and Qayamat, Harry who had directed son Harman Baweja in “Love Story 2050” changed track after the film bombed at the box office. In an interaction, he spoke about the sequel, his take on Indian animated movies, and what he thinks should be the role of the CBFC.

Excerpts:

How did the idea of the sequel come about?

The story of the sequel was a part of the first movie itself. But since ideally a 3D movie should not be longer than two hours, we decided to cut down that part from the first movie and make it into a full-fledged movie. This movie is about Banda Singh Bahadur, who was a Sikh military commander, his life and journey to martyrdom. As the last movie was loved by the audience, we are planning to make it into a trilogy with the third movie slotted around the same time next year.

How difficult is it to show a story related to religion on screen?

If you talk about difficulty on a scale of 0 to 100, I would say 100. It is very difficult. You not only have to be careful about the religious committees who guide you but also about each and every member of the audience. Religion has different meaning for different people and there begins the problem. So you have to be very careful in satisfying all of them. It can be a huge task.

What do you have to say about Bollywood using religious stories like Ramayana and Mahabharata to make animated movies?

The animation industry died in India and then woke up again with “Chaar Saahibzaade” because I think every other movie was about either Ramayana or Mahabharata or Hanuman or Arjuna. You can’t give the same story to the audience again and again. Finally a stage came when I realised that we’ve got to give them something different. India still is not ready to accept that animation is a story that everyone can go and watch in a theatre. People here still think animation movies are only for kids. That perception has to change. Unless that perception changes, it’ll be very risky for a producer to make a film.

How do you plan to offer different and fresh stories in animation to the Indian audience?

I have just started. We have just woken up to new animation movies. Let’s see what happens in the next few years over three to four more films. It is a very slow process. Hollywood did not wake up in one day. What they have achieved now has taken them 80 years since Mickey Mouse was first introduced by Disney. It’s has been only one year for me, so give me 79 more and I’ll show you the change.

What do you have to say on the “Udta Punjab” controversy and the role of the CBFC? Do you think the censor board is stifling the creative freedom of the filmmakers?

All I can say is that the role of the Board should be of certification and not censorship. This is is what the High Court has also said. I think the very capable team of Shyam Benegal and others who have been working on it for months will come up with some good solutions. If at 18 years of age you are allowing me to choose which Government I want then how can the Government, through the Board, decide which movie should I see or not see? Categorise the movie and leave it there. The audience is mature enough to choose what to watch and which not to. Give the audience the right to choose and don’t curtail the freedom of the filmmaker.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 11:18:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Let-the-audience-choose/article14425989.ece

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