Sudhir Mishra’s Daas Dev is all set to hit the screens and Shubarna Mukerji Shu wants to know how he has married Sarat Chandra’s Devdas to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and turned it all into a political drama
His characters are unlike any that filmmakers have dared to make in Bollywood. He calls a spade a spade and doesn’t mince words, he is Sudhir Mishra the man who has given us films like ‘Hazaron Kwaisein Aisi’, ‘Inkar’ and more… today he is bringing us Devdas with a twist, listening to him talk about it has convinced us that his mind is what Bollywood needs for a better tomorrow.
Devdas is such a weak character… making him into a protagonist, time and again, does it really justify?
I find is surprising when women call Devdas a weak character. Time and again it seems like all that matters are muscles on men? Why is indecisiveness not a quality? Why is a guy who steps back considered a loser? We need to define the concept of heroism because this male idea of heroism cannot be decisiveness. Being determined or decisive has caused a lot of problems as well. Hitler for decisive, does he appeal to you?
That’s the unconscious attraction of Devdas, he destroys himself because he has destroyed the life of the woman he loved. He would have moved on after being sorry for a while but he couldn’t just let it go. Let’s not forget it was written in a time, in a class structure where there were too many limitations. What does he do? He destroys himself, dies at the door of the woman he loves, begs for forgiveness in a sense. But I have not made him like that, that’s a separate thing.
How have you changed it for Daas Dev?
My Paro will not be locked up inside the door, my Devdas won’t die outside the door of the woman he loves, Chandramukhi – in my case Chandani will not walk away without taking something for herself. These are the
My Devdas also realises that he has harmed the woman he loves which is Paro and attempts to liberate her. So if Devdas is a journey of say a nobleman (Dev) to a slave (which is Das) this is a story about a man who lured by the charm of Chandramukhi aka Chandani, from the addiction of alcohol to the addiction of power…. Putting him smack in the middle of a political conspiracy. She is a political fixer, it’s a job that she is doing but she inadvertently falls in love with him and thus tries to set him free. Paro goes in the oppositions camp and they become rivals, she comes out of that kothi, Chandani narrates the story. This whole conspiracy is narrated by her. My film is hence more of a political thriller based around a love story.
That’s steering away from the original….
I have dedicated this film to Shakespeare, Sarat Chandra and my grandfather. The story comes from all three. From Shakespeare’s works, I have borrowed heavily from Hamlet but also from other of his works. Shakespeare wrote the best thrillers, he understands the virus of evil when it invades the human soul better than most. I have tried to marry different literature and make it a larger than life drama. Let’s see how I fare.
Love stories for you are never a small linear affair. The way you deal with the politics of love is remarkable because it seems so real.
I think there is a lot of politics in love, a lot of my films deal with it. My male characters are not cliched males, they have a softer side to them. That’s why they are not very attractive to male heroes in the industry. Because they not ‘mard ko dard Nahi Hota’ type of people. Most of my characters cannot be like that, in Inkaar hero was the most macho I have ever made any of my protagonists but in the end he finds his softer side. He walks away realising the futility in it all.
Popular culture and politics tend to glorify aggressive male macho-ism. So perhaps that’s the reason why my films don’t come under the pop bracket.
How was it turning Rahul Bhatt into Devdas?
I saw him in Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly and I really liked him as an actor. In my film, Dev Chauhan is an heir to a political dynasty, there are many in india like him. if he looked a little khandani, which worked well for Rahul. He is the complete opposite of what he played in Ugly. He has a natural kind of arrogance. He is a great actor who can find his softer side, to admit wrong, to admit to being weak, to admit frailty I think it is interesting. I love working with newer people there is a lot of excitement in them.
Didn’t you have to unlock, manipulate anything when it comes to your actors?
With Rahul, he worked with Anurag before he came to me. So Anurag had already done a lot of unlocking and unlearning with Rahul. Anurag and I are different but we have somewhat similar processes, he was prepared for it.
The actresses are both stunning. In my film, they are both as important as Devdas. I loved worked with Richa and Aditi. Aditi I had worked with before. I like my women to be someone who want to fulfil their own potential rather than that of the men they are with. Richa, once I convinced her to play the ‘bad’ guy, she turned out to be this awesome spunky, opinionated, desi girl who was a treat to watch.
What are the other projects that you have been working on?
There is a series I am doing called the Nawab, the Nautch girl and the East India Company which I am doing it is an international series, when Irrfan will be back we will begin with a series for AIB where I was kind of mentoring. I am also working towards making a film on my wife Renu, who passed away. She was a phenomenal woman, and it will be interesting to describe life and love around that funny, giggly girl especially towards the end of her journey.