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Against the flow

NANDHINI SUNDAR

Pankuj Parashar is at his off beat best again. After Jalwa and Chaalbaaz, it is now the turn of Banaras: A Mystic Love Story

Photo: Bhagya Prakash K;

BREAKING STEREOTYPESPankuj Parashar, who created the maverick Karamchand, says how he wanted to reach the masses and make them look at things differently.

Pankuj Parashar needs no introduction. The man who made Karamchand, Jalwa and Chaalbaaz is known to break stereotypes and come up with surprises. He was in the city last week to promote his current film Banaras: A Mystic Love Story. The film, shot in Banaras, promises to relate to a theme "that would make you think".

Apparently exhausted from his press conference, Parashar was fast asleep when I knocked on his door for an interview. So, I seized this opportunity to talk to his long time friend and the man behind the film, L.C. Singh, known for his vision and leadership in the IT industry. The story for the film has been written by him.

Inner call

"It was answering the call from the inner self, the need to reach the younger generation, offer them a story, a theme which would make them think and question," says the unassuming Singh. "Films normally carry the `tag' of not giving material to think. I wanted to change that, reach the masses and make them look at things differently." As for similar future forays, "Not sure, but I enjoyed working on this film with Pankuj. It has been a learning curve."

Photo: Bhagya Prakash K

Urmila and Dimple in his new film

"Did you know, I junked his script when he passed it to me first time?" says Parashar, walking in chuckling, fresh from his midday nap. "And I did that, at his place, drinking his wine. He had this script, which would qualify more as a literary piece, with detailed description of the smells, colour, sounds of Banaras and I told him you can't make a film with this. He was very upset."

Undaunted, Singh made the required alterations to suit Parashar's exacting requirements and thus was born the movie. "We fought a lot, argued a lot but the end result is fantastic."

But did the movie necessarily have to be set in Banaras? "This is not a film promoting Banaras. The film shows the happenings that are normal there. The hero is found as a baby on the ghats, same place where Kabir was found. We've shot in Kabir's mutt, there are similar such shots relating to history. We can't do this elsewhere," says Parashar.

More importantly, Parashar now feels that opportunities are opening for directors who want to do something different and this is evident when you look at the success enjoyed by the likes of Black and Parineeta at the box office. And this new venture could be yet another turning point in his career.

"The movie is about emotional conflict, relationships, between mother and daughter, how it is resolved. Dimple and Urmila are incredible actresses and they have done a commendable performance."

For survival

Straying off the beaten track is not new for Parashar but in his early days it was more due to circumstance than will. Karamchand was in fact almost shot in the dark. "At that time it was a question of survival, I had no work, no money, and the money that sunk into its production was not mine. When you come to Bombay, you are looking for a platform to start on, there is a burning desire to create. But I did not expect it to be a success, I was hoping it wouldn't get thrown out and me sent back to Pune."

Technique apart, he is even more careful when it comes to choosing the cast. "It has nothing to do with names but how well they suit the character," he says. And he goes on to talk about Naseerudin Shah as the cop in Jalwa. "I was looking for a person with a good physique to fit the role and Naseer started working out from the very next day. He is a pioneer in bodybuilding. John Abraham and Salman Khan are late followers."

When asked about future projects, Parashar sets off again in his usual rhetoric. "I would like to do Ramayana on the lines of Star Wars, keeping the essence of it, but giving those effects. I pick themes based on common sense. Basically, I need to feel one with it. There have been instances where the story and cast has been good, assuring success, but I have felt uncomfortable and my instincts have proved to be right," he says.

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