For a filmmaker who’s associated with making dark movies like Murder, Gangster and Life In A Metro, making a happy, sunshine movie like Barfi! seems so antithetical.
Ask Anurag Basu about the obvious change of pace and he quickly reacts saying, “But I have always been changing the pace with every film of mine! Murder was different from Gangster, which was different from Life In A Metro and so was Kites.” But even as he makes that observation he makes a rather unexpected statement: “A film one makes reflects the kind of life you’re leading now. When I made Murder and Gangster, I was restless; today I am a happy, family man and life’s rather simple. I spend my time with kids reading stories to them, so that has seeped into my story-telling too.” It doesn’t take him more than a second to agree that “Marriage is a great stabiliser.”
Moving on to talking about his movie’s leading man, we are curious if Ranbir Kapoor was his first choice. Basu, who seems unfazed by the fact that his movie is releasing just a few days from now, says with a smile, “I didn’t have a second choice either, and once you watch the movie, you will agree that no one else could have done the role the way he did.” And then, in a moment of frank speak, Basu says, “Unlike what some interviews have quoted me as saying, I never told Ranbir that I’d have shelved the movie if he had said no. And neither have I openly stated that he was a God (of acting).” But before we know it, Basu confesses, “He is one, but it’s just that I am quite stingy with praises.”
We get into slight rewind mode talking about how Barfi! came about and Basu recalls, “I have the habit of writing short stories and Barfi! is a two-page story I’d written during Kites. So, after Kites, when I sat down to think of what to make next, I knew one thing — it had to be a story I’d love to make, because I would be working on it for at least one and a half years. And so, when I went back and read Barfi!, I knew this was the story I had to make.”
Getting him to talk about the making of the movie is a breeze because Basu just opens up, laughing and joking how, “the film was made between breaks and all the matches we played.” “Barfi! was just incidental, we were busy having fun,” he chuckles before admitting that his preferred mode of working is less about following a bound script and all about improvising on the set because, “you will never get a real vibe of the movie sitting in front of a computer. Ideas flow and work better when you are on the sets.”
Seeing Basu in good humour would belie the fact that he has a movie up for release in a couple of days. While he doesn’t necessarily have butterflies in the stomach, the auteur confesses that he has a lot of hope riding on Barfi! “I really hope people come and see the film. In fact, a lot of filmmakers in Bollywood are waiting to see how the film fares because then it will give them the courage to make movies that will push the envelope. There are a lot of us who want to change the system by staying within the system and braving the limitations, because at the end of the day, a movie has to make money too!” Well said.