March 24, 2010

Well Done Abba is a Political Satire — Shyam Benegal

Shyam Benegal tells Jyothi Venkatesh that his ambitious Indo-Sri Lankan project Buddha has been put on the backburner, thanks to International recession which has taken a toll on the project.

How relevant is the title ‘Well Done Abba’ to your film?

I am of the opinion that any title refers to a film in one way or the other. Well Done Abba is what a child tells her father. The relationship between the father Armaan Ali and his daughter Muskaan constitutes the intriguing point of the film and offers to the viewer, a direct connection with the film itself. When my line producer suggested the title, I readily accepted it.

What exactly is the premise of your film?

The premise of my film is very simple. The film is about a driver of an executive in Mumbai who takes leave for a month to get his daughter married. He gets caught up with various other things and comes back to Mumbai after three months. When his boss threatens to sack him, he starts telling him about what happened in the three months. It forms the crux of the film. Well Done Abba is hilarious at one level and touches you at another. It is a political satire, though the approach is comical. It is a happy comedy with a touching story.

Has your approach as a director become more linear with ‘Welcome To Sajjanpur’?

You choose a subject. Some subjects lend themselves to comic treatment whereas some need a serious approach. The form dictates the content depending on whatever subject you have. I have always believed that the content is of primary importance when you set out to make a film. You should also remember that over the years, ever since I had made Ankur, ways to connect with the audiences have also changed because the younger audiences is much exposed to the media today. Today’s audiences are much more willing to accept even films which are not conventional. This, in turn, has given a huge boost to creative kind of film making.

What kind of a relationship do you generally share with your actors?

As a director, I enjoy working with all my actors, because I feel that they are the life and blood of every film that you set out to make. It does not matter whether the actor is new like say Minissha Lamba or an established one like say Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah or for that matter Ila Arun.

Why do you give preference to making films with the rural backdrop?

It is a wrong notion that I prefer to make films with the rural backdrop. Though I have made a few films with the rural backdrop, I have also to my credit quite a few films which have the urban back drop. I could not have possibly made films like say Zubeida or Sardari Begum with the urban back ground. Nor could I have possibly made Kalyug with a rural backdrop.

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