Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dibakar Banerjee: The Artist and The Filmmaker

Picture Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com
Dibakar Banerjee is an unusual filmmaker and not so in the typical sense. Films are often classified as commercial, art, mainstream, offbeat, social and with lot of other terms. Films which do not fall in line with the typically commercial format are commonly called offbeat films. Irony is that many a times even these films while trying to be different give in to the set image of being 'offbeat' and often test the audience's patience because of weak storytelling in the garb of being non-mainstream. Contemporary Hindi filmmakers which have made a mark in their first few films, have rarely surprised the audience with their latter films.

Come to think of it, which were the most brilliant films made in the last 15-20 years and compare them with the films which the directors of those films are making now. In most cases I feel the filmmakers tend to fall prey to their image of what people seem to have liked about their acclaimed films. Certainly as they say, films are a reflection of what a filmmaker is, so all films of any filmmaker is expected to have something common in them, however still it should be organic and if a filmmaker deliberately tries to serve to the audience what they are expecting from a filmmaker, there starts a compromise. At times filmmakers even try to make something different for the sake of making something different and not because it needs to be made that way.


Dibakar Banerjee is a filmmaker I have tremendous respect for because he does not make films based on audience expectations and neither makes films to prove a point and yet manages to both surprise the audience while not compromising on his vision. All his three films till now have managed to pleasantly surprise most of the audience. The best thing about his films is that none of them seem to have any deliberate hangovers from his previous films. The magic of the cinema of Dibakar Banerjee is not about his craft as a filmmaker but about the need of an expression most critical to any artist whatever be the medium. The true success of an artist is when the audience do not necessarily talk about the form (i.e. direction, cinematography, background music, sound design, performances etc in case of cinema) but react to the actual content, the form only serving as a medium to most effectively communicate the content. One rarely ever notices the filmmaking in Dibakar's films, which is his strength as a true storyteller. There is much he manages to say in his films without actually saying it.

Dibakar's films do not fall victim to the stereotypes of established genres therefore no matter which of his films, none of them can be simplistically defined by their genres. While Khosla ka Ghosla had lot of earthy humour and was set in Delhi, it managed to depict Delhi in a never before seen way, full of a unique character. Oye Lucky Lucky Oye which also had an aspirational middle class Delhi setting was a very different film from Khosla ka Ghosla in terms of treatment and expression. Love Sex aur Dhokha belongs to 'found footage' genre but it never seemed as a gimmick since the film itself was about how video cameras in different forms are no more just gadgets or devices and the impact they can have on people's lives with their intrinsically intrusive nature.

Dibakar as a filmmaker seems totally unconscious of judgement if not absolutely unaffected by it. His film Khosla ka Ghosla is almost universally loved however unlike most filmmakers, Dibakar does not shy away from revealing his own honest thoughts about the film, once mentioning something to the effect that the film at times was deliberately manipulative in its pursuit of having a feel good effect. For him its not about making good or bad cinema, but making what he truly believes in, what resides deep inside him which he cannot do without telling it.

His films do not have expletives, abstractness, sex scenes or rebellious characters for the sake of it, because it is cool to have them in supposedly non-mainstream films yet his films do not shy away from these or anything else which is radical or unusual if it comes naturally as part of storytelling. The use of an expletive by Sahni Saab in Khosla ka Ghosla while talking about how the whole country is running on compromise, sexual advances of Lucky's stepmom to him in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye or the unihibited depiction of a brutal honour killing in Love Sex aur Dhokha did not seem calculated or conscious in their radicality. Dibakar's braveness as a filmmaker is intrinsic and does not shout out loud for attention.

Shanghai, his upcoming film adapted from a Greek novel 'Z'(which has already been adapted to a highly acclaimed film by filmmaker Costa-Gavras) being called a political thriller is about issues of development and progress in a democracy and what all does it actually cost which is not so apparent. Admittedly I have not witnessed much of its promotion except the first trailer but having read the synopsis and some of Dibakar's interviews I can hardly wait to see Shanghai. In present times specially when our country which was not so long ago being talked about as a future superpower with several multi-billionaires in world's richest list and plans to send its own mission to moon while the rich poor divide is worsening and living even a decent life is becoming more challenging everyday for most, what does development and progess mean has become a pertinent question which is rarely ever touched upon in our films.

That Dibakar has not resorted to morality and idealism in his previous films is the biggest reason which excites me that this film is being directed by him as the issue with which Shanghai deals can easily fall victim to ideologically convenient treatment while overlooking the complexity of human psychology and motivations which are the foundations of any issue. With a filmmaker like Dibakar and what Shanghai deals with, my expectations are at an all time high. It might seem like expecting too much from it without even having seen it but I have no doubt that Shanghai has the potential to be the most important film of these times.

-Apan Singhal




Related:
Shanghai Preview: Theatrical Trailer, Credits & Synopsis

7 comments:

  1. Dibakar Bannerjee is the best filmmaker after Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Bhardwaj who is making sensible films. Love sex aur dokha was a brilliant found footage genre film.. shanghai looks good from the trailer. though i don't understand why he took Emraan Hashmi. he should stick to his serial kisser films. ABhay Deol is going to steal the show.

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  2. ^dude, did you even read the responses in twitter after the press show. Emraan is going to surprise in this film. He just doesn't do good films because of his image otherwise he can deliver a good performance. watch Awarapan. and i think Anurag Kashyap is a bit overrated, though he is still really good.

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    1. I agree. except for black friday, all Kashyap's other films are somewhat overrated. Dibakar on the other hand deserves much more recognition. really hope that he gets due credit with Shanghai. the year has been decent so far with Kahaani, Paan Singh Tomar and VIcky DOnor.

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    2. Well Rishita, i liked Gulaal too though you are right that he is yet to match Black Friday's brilliance. Dibakar on the other hand has been consistently exceptional. Looking at the reviews coming i wont be surprised if shanghai turns out to be the film of the year.

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    3. Well, I dont understand why does have everyone have to bring Anurag Kashyap in every damn thing. the article is about Dibakar Banerjee. Can we just talk about him for a while. there is no need to put down Anurag kashyap. he has done much for the cause of good cinema.. Dibakar is a different filmmaker.

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  3. booked my tickets for FDLS(classes in the morning :P). dibakar bannerjee is amazing filmmaker.khosla ka ghosla was so good..

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  4. hope this film works at the Box Office as well. am sure it will be really good.

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