Srijit Mukherji opens up about 'Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga', working with Pankaj Tripathi and late singer KK

Filmmaker Srijit Mukherji opens up about Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga, working with Pankaj Tripathi, and more

Ria SharmaUpdated: Thursday, June 23, 2022, 05:03 PM IST
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National Award-winning director Srijit Mukherji’s Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga releases in theatres today (June 24). The film is based on a real-life incident and stars Pankaj Tripathi, Neeraj Kabi and Sayani Gupta. The Free Press Journal caught up with the filmmaker for an exclusive interview.

Srijit calls the experience of directing his ‘dream project’ fantastic. “I read a newspaper article in 2017 and started working on the script. So the film has been in the making for quite some time, and it was a long journey of five years. We spent a lot of time writing and revising it,” he shares.

According to Srijit, he only had Pankaj in his mind to play the lead. “I always wanted him, but I was not able to get through to him. Finally, when I got that access, I never looked back,” he reveals.

Srijit is all praise for the actor. “He is an absolute delight to work with. He gets involved with the entire story and often gives his valuable input. There’s a strong storyteller inside Pankaj, and he comes out with fantastic ideas. He’s one of the finest actors in our country. He’s also very disciplined and hardworking. Pankaj used to report to the sets early, and I used to often go to the jungle before shooting and talk about life, the country, and other things. So it was a very cathartic and enjoyable experience,” he gushes.

Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga is based on a serious topic but is presented as a satire. The director explains, “Firstly, we don’t have many satires around us. We have love stories, thrillers, and social dramas, but satires are very few. I love satires, and this is the genre we’ve not really delved into. The original incident was so powerful that we thought that it was an ideal material and ideal ingredient to make a social satire. It is a deep message told in an entertaining way.”

The film was entirely shot in a village and in the jungle. Asked if the team faced any challenges during the shoot, Srijit avers, “We didn’t face a lot of problems, but there were many safety protocols that we had to follow. So those were the only constraints. But I love the jungle, and I’m very comfortable in the jungle. I know my way around the jungles of India. Pankaj is also a nature lover. He stays away from shor sharaba and loves quietness. So this was one of the smoothest shoots I’ve had in my life.”

Late singer KK’s last recorded song Dhoop Paani Behne De, is a part of the film. “He was so humble, and the first time I met him, I thought I’d known him for years. He was very excited about Dhoop Pani because it reunited him with Gulzar sahab. Also, he said that he would love to sing it in concerts because it gives out a strong message and communicates it to the youth who thronged his concerts mostly. But unfortunately, it didn’t happen, and all we’re left with are his memories, wonderful voice, and his incredible songs,” he concludes.

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