Director's Cut: 'It is Mithali's indomitable spirit that inspired the title of the film Shabaash Mithu', reveals director Srijit Mukherji

National award-winning director Srijit Mukherji gets candid about his upcoming film Shabaash Mithu, working with Taapsee Pannu, and more

Lipika VarmaUpdated: Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 08:38 AM IST
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The eagerly-awaited sports drama of the year, Shabaash Mithu is based on the real-life story of former Indian women's cricket team captain Mithali Raj and stars Taapsee Pannu in the lead role. The film is produced under the banner of Viacom 18 Studios and is set to release on July 15. The Free Press Journal speaks with the multi-talented director Sriijit Mukherji ahead of its release. Excerpts:

Why have you directed so few Hindi films?
I like to tell stories which I may like in any language. Every story seeks its own destiny in terms of language and structure.

Why did you decide to make a film on Cricket?

Well, I didn’t decide. It came to me. I was thankful, as cricket has always been my passion, my first love, and my first sport turned out to be cricket which really made me very delighted and that too on the legend like Mithali. So I thought it was a fantastic coincidence. I have been wanting to work with Taapsee for a long time; we have been in touch post, Pink.

Why did it take so long for you to work with Taapsee?

There has to be a mutual agreement on the kind of subject and time. Finally, it happened with Shabaash Mithu. I am very happy about it.

Elaborate on the title - Shabaash Mithu?

It’s Mithali’s indomitable spirit she has not only fought the entire system but has also inspired millions of dreams and shown the world that you can actually achieve what you want to achieve. That is something which is great and very inspiring.

You are a cricket buff you may know about all the norms. What other things did you have to take care of?

Most cricketing films see that delivery is shot by a lot of cuts. There are very small edit cuts. I told Taapsee that I would like to have as many single takes as possible. When a bowler is actually bowling a ball to Taapsee she is actually hitting it. For that, she needed to practice 6 a.m., as most of the other actors are state-level cricketers. She started playing the shots, I told her to enjoy the game, that's what she started doing. So even after we finished shooting she was continuously playing cricket and enjoying the sport.

Do you think Shahid Kapoor-starrer Jersey did not do well at the box office because it was a remake? What about '83?

I have no idea. Then that should have applied to Kabir Singh as well. It’s very difficult to guess why a film did not do well. In hindsight, if you post-mortem it, you get so many reasons. Before 83 was released everyone was saying it will be a smash hit as it’s India’s biggest hit we bagged the world cup. One thing is certain the budget needs to be controlled for every film.

What is the budget of Shabaash Mithu?

Our film is made on a stringent budget. Because that again, is something the studious decide.

Do you feel it’s difficult to make a biopic while being choosy and picky during its filming?


I think it’s like any story. It has its own graph. It has its own highs and lows and it's not separate from any other fictional story. Its life has its facts and it’s more truthful than a fictional story. Priya Aven had written the script for me, and done the research. Maybe, a couple of changes were made with mutual discussions.

What is your take on the argument that female-dominated films don’t do well?
I don’t think so. This year Gangubai Kathiawadi did so well. It was an absolutely women-dominated story. It’s about quality and storytelling. I don’t expect anything apart from telling the story honestly and truthfully.

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