March 18, 2010

‘There is more to LSD than just Love, Sex and Dhokha’ - Dibakar Banerjee

Dibakar Banerjee, in town on Wednesday, tells t2 how Love Sex aur Dhokha can change the way we react to films.

After doing feel-good films like Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, why get into controversial terrain with LSD?

I was asked the same question after I did Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. Everyone was saying that ‘after a feel-good film like Khosla Ka Ghosla, why are you making a film on a thief?’ ‘Khosla was Hrishikeshian, Oye Lucky! is dark...’ and so on. I think it’s becoming a pattern for me. What’s becoming clear is that as I finish something, I am anxious not to do it again. I want to attempt something else, because there are so many things that I want to do as a filmmaker. I don’t think LSD is any more different from Oye Lucky! than Oye Lucky! was from Khosla.

LSD is different, it is being touted as Bollywood’s boldest film yet!

Yes, LSD has some explicit sexual content and that’s why it’s being seen differently. The format (it has three shorts in one film) is different, but it isn’t different for the sake of being different. The three stories are separate, but in the larger universe, they are linked. In fact, the three stories do not follow a linear narrative, they are actually cyclic. The viewer is going back and forth in time, but is being taken through the same situation.

Coming to it being called the boldest film in Bollywood, all I can say is that yes, it disturbs me. I am not happy about the manner in which the sex scene in the store has been taken out in isolation and played up. I don’t like the way so much is being said about the lyrics (a song called Tu nangi achchi lagti hai was changed to Tu gandi achchi lagti hai) or the fact that the audience might just walk in this Friday to watch that scene or that song. All I can say is that if you are walking into LSD expecting a brazen and bold film, then you will be very disappointed. There is a lot more to this film than just love, sex and dhokha.

Arya Banerjee in Love Sex Aur Dhokha
Where did the idea stem from?

The inspiration actually came from a variety of sources. In 2004, when I was in Delhi, a number of MMS scandals had broken out simultaneously. I realised that what we were seeing was just the tip of the iceberg. The same camera must have shot the two people in the clip chatting, having a cup of coffee or hugging, but we were just seeing these 30 seconds of a sexual act and assuming things about them and consuming it.

There was definitely more to these people, a reference, a context around which the act was centred, but our definition of them was just based on that single half-a-minute clip. I wanted to make a film on that one moment that can change and redefine someone’s life, someone’s identity. But I wanted to show lots of moments before and after, so that the audience would know what led to that moment.

Another funny incident also gave me the germ of the idea for LSD. I was at a store and a security camera was being installed there. Suddenly, I saw people looking at themselves in the monitor and adjusting their hair, setting their clothes right. The presence of the camera changes the way we behave. It is said that the camera records the truth. That’s not true. I feel that the camera changes the truth and becomes a party to the situation. It is an active participant with the power to alter the truth.

You have shot LSD in the most unconventional manner using spycam and handycam…

Simply using a digital camera doesn’t translate into a digital film. One needs to use the digital aesthetic of the look, the feel, the spontaneity, the absolute amateurishness of shooting the film. These days, you take a camera, you shoot a couple of things, you download it on your camera and upload it on Youtube. All it takes is half-an-hour — and you have shot a film! That immediacy, that spontaneity, that kind of ease is actually giving birth to a new language, a new grammar of filmmaking which is separate from the cinematic language of the last 100 years where a camera was positioned strategically to record in a planned manner. What I have done in LSD is record movements and emotions in an unstructured, spontaneous, sporadic manner. The camera is incidental, secretly there or obtrusively there. It’s either invisible or in your face. It is the new language of realistic films and that is what LSD will show this Friday — digital camera and digital language getting together to tell a pertinent story.

Is the audience ready for LSD?

A step forward has been taken and there is no looking back. Either people will ignore it or they will fall in line with it. This is no revolution, but just a new way of telling a story. I am driven by pure creative instinct. There is no agenda behind it. With LSD, I have just tried to figure out a way of marrying content to form to come up with a story. I had to unlearn the techniques of conventional cinema in order to make LSD. We are lucky that we are in an age where the amateurish movie maker, jump cut editing, Youtube downloads are finding favour with the audience.

Why cast newcomers?

I didn’t want known faces because if I had used a popular face in any of the three shorts, the illusion of reality would have suffered terribly. A known face would have come in with a preset image, would have created some expectation in the mind of the audience and I didn’t want that.

The censors haven’t been kind...

I don’t like anyone telling me how I should make my film and what I should show or not show. But it’s not been as bad as I had expected.They have just asked for a few seconds of the sex scene to be cut and I am fine with that.

Come Friday, are you wary of alienating a large chunk of your audience with LSD?

Families are also changing, na? Everyone is a lot more open nowadays with parents and kids watching sting operations and TV swayamvars together. We have shown LSD to many focus groups and the reaction has been tremendous. Yesterday, a 70-plus woman came out of a special screening raving about the film. LSD might just change the way the Indian audience reacts to films.




The Illusionist said...

Minnie - Thanks for posting ! I could not help notice that after IPL3 started you have become an avid reader of Telegraph India. Hmmm.. Wondering why ??

Minnie said...

Didn't you know they give the best coverage of KKR and SRK ? :-)

The Illusionist said...

An experiment with love

A National Award for “Oye Lucky” this evening and “LSD” in theatres — Dibakar Banerjee is on a new high.

“I believe in non-esoteric titles. It has created false images — like my first film (‘Khosla Ka Ghosla') was considered to be a tele-serial. My second (‘Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye') was thought to be a regional feature film. But to me there is a certain honesty about these titles…I don't analyse too much and I carry this innocence to ‘Love Sex Aur Dhoka' (LSD). It is as straight as you get.”

Very much like his films, there is a hint of sarcasm in whatever Dibakar Banerjee says. Both his films have won National awards, but Dibakar is more excited about the victory of “Oye Lucky…” because the film won the award for the best film providing wholesome entertainment.

“I feel humbled, even a little apologetic, because for years this category is reserved for much bigger films with plenty of mass appeal. It gives the much needed fillip to the team which works under lots of constraints but always runs the risk of being ignored. It used to be a kind of thankless job. I am not asking for sympathy, for nobody has pushed us into making this kind of cinema, but an award of this stature pushes us to work doubly hard.”

He has reasons to believe that the jury appreciated the deeper meaning of his enchanting story of a thief, but again, Dibakar has an experience to share. “At IFFI a gentleman came to me and said in all seriousness that he loves my films because they allow him to leave the brain home!”

New grammar

The best part about Dibakar is that though he is a product of multiplex cinema, he is not bound by the predictabilities that come with this emerging genre. If “Khosla Ka Ghosla” celebrated the spirit of the middle class, “Oye Lucky…” dissected the hypocrisy of that very class where a respected doctor betrays a thief.

And with LSD, releasing this week, he is treading into a territory where Bollywood angels fear to tread. He has got the word sex in the title. “The film is about voyeurism but in itself is not voyeuristic. It talks about the diminishing line between what is public and what is private. These days our films tell us how to make love, the gossip columns constitute our discussions and youngsters write to agony aunts to solve their personal problems.”

Read more HERE

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