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Found in translation

`Dance like a Man' is ready for release. Director Pamela Rooks talks about the making of the film


IF ONE did not know better, one would have called Delhi-based filmmaker, Pamela Rooks, a creature of habit. The three movies she has made have been adaptations (Miss Beatty's Children (1992), Train to Pakistan (1998) and Dance Like a Man (2004) and have been released with a gap of six years.

"Oh, it is not out of choice," she says crisply. "Money to make the kind of movies I am interested in is difficult to come by. If I were doing the regular stuff, then finance would not have been a problem. But I find the song and dance stuff difficult to sit through so I do not think it is fair to put the public through it. And there are people doing the song and dance stuff and doing it very well so I would rather do something that is not so brain dead."

And as far as adaptations go - Miss Beatty's Children was an adaptation of Pamela's book, Train to Pakistan brings Khushwant's Singh's Partition novel on screen and Dance Like a Man is an adaptation of Mahesh Dattani's play - Pamela insists "it is pure accident."

Rhythm and blues

Dance like a Man, which explores human relationships against the backdrop of classical dance is ready for September 23 release. "I watched the play in Delhi and was struck by the cinematic possibilities. There are wonderful characters. The tag line, `Can the price of passion be too high?' says it all. The film deals with generational and gender conflicts and preconceptions. It is both Indian and universal. The script has humour and pathos dealing as it does with human fallibility. I like to explore relationships where there is no black and white. Where greatness and stupidity co-exist." Pamela says Dattani had "complete faith in me. We did not have any creative differences."

Song and dance

Casting for the movie has created a buzz with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar's daughter, Anoushka, making her debut as Shobhana's daughter. "I have watched Anoushka growing up. She is a natural actress and everyone was very supportive so she felt at home. Since her character is performing her arangetram she does not have to be a brilliant dancer. Dance is the USP for the movie and I needed actors who are good dancers and could master the set pieces."

Pamela had no problem with Shobhana who she describes as "a total joy. She is very disciplined when I sent her the script, her reaction was `Oh god, Pam, this is out of my life!" Shobhana also made valuable inputs like suggesting using Ganesh and Kumresh for the music. "They are young, classical musicians who have travelled and have a sense of fusion music. The music is fabulous."

Old friends

Pamela, who cast Protima Bedi in Miss Beatty's Children, has dedicated Dance like A Man to her. "I spent Holi with Protima the year she passed away. I was telling her about the play and she said, `I know Mahesh' and saw to it that Mahesh and I met up. She made me promise that there would be a role for her. I had earmarked the role of Chandrakala for Protima which eventually Arundhati did."

For Pamela, who "grew up on stories of Partition," Train to Pakistan was something she had to do. "Both my parents are from across the border and I read the book when I was 17."

Future projects include a "thriller set in Mumbai, a film on dowry with Vinod Dua and Farook Dhondy is developing a script. I would also like to do a film on gay culture away from stereotypes though. I like to use humour as it is a good way to get a point across."

Pamela who describes herself as a "doer rather than a talker," goes by the mantra of "the film is half the journey. One should just get down and do it."

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER

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