In a new series, FC Critics Survey, every few weeks we ask a handful of film critics one question. This week we ask –if you found yourself on a long-haul flight sitting next to one Indian filmmaker and had the chance to discuss their filmography, who would you want it to be?
K. Asif – Anupama Chopra, Founder And Editor, Film Companion
I would love to sit with K. Asif and ask him how he made Mughal-E-Azam, how he survived the arduous process that took so many years, how he conceived the sheesh mahal, the process of writing those memorable dialogues and the creation of one of my favourite love scenes of all time – Salim caressing Anarkali’s face with a feather!
Sai Paranjpye – Sukanya Verma, Rediff.com
Sai Paranjpye! A remarkable lady, a fascinating life and a multifaceted career. She’s smart, sophisticated, warm, witty, imaginative and truly comfortable in her own skin. There’s no bullshit. Her candour reflects in her filmmaking, which made me care for the world she created and the people inhabiting it. They’re all rooted in reality but touched by just about enough whimsy to make them stand out from the rest for better or worse. I would love to hear Paranjpye talk about the challenges of making films as diverse as Sparsh, Chashme Buddoor, Katha, Disha, Saaz — each possessed by such varying degree of sensitivity and complexity, her gift to view the trickiest situations with humanity and humour. I would ask her about her writing process since she’s always rated her writer above her director. She speaks so openly and easily about her experiences, I could spend hours listening to her views on feminism, to what extent they impact her stories, casting Farookh Shaikh against type in Katha and Aruna Irani in Saaz and also all the fun anecdotes about the actors she’s worked with. How I wish this wasn’t hypothetical!
Hrishikesh Mukherjee – Deepanjana Pal, Associate Editor, Hindustan Times
Especially since the commercial Hindi film industry in the present is struggling to find a balance between entertainment and social relevance, it would be great to be able to talk to Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Aside from the fact that he’s made some of Hindi cinema’s most heartwarming and memorable films — Anand, Chupke Chupke, Golmaal, Khubsoorat among many others — he had been a cameraman, an editor and a director. Just think of the anecdotes he would have had. I’d love to know what drew him to the stories he told in his cinema and what guided his storytelling. Also, I’ve always wondered about the women characters in his films (like Anuradha, Asli Naqli, Abhimaan) who are so fabulous and feisty, but often forced to conform at the end. It would be interesting to know from him how he balanced what he believed in, with what was considered acceptable and/ or marketable.
Bimal Roy – Namrata Joshi, The Hindu
Hypothetically speaking I would like to choose a name from the past and that one Indian filmmaker would be Bimal Roy. Why? To begin with, not only have I seen almost all his films, but have by-hearted some by viewing them multiple times over. So there would be some substantive contribution in that dream discussion from my side as well. Hopefully, I would slip in some intelligent questions than just listen, though even that possibility, on its own, would be a big deal indeed.
It’s Roy’s kind of humanist-realist cinema, effortlessly bridging the parallel and the popular, that reaches out to me the most. His stories, their social incisiveness and delicacy of emotions, the unforgettable characters, specially the women and, of course, the melodious music. I am a viewer who would want to travel back in time and get lost forever in the Hindi cinema of the 50s and early 60s. To me, stylistically as well as thematically, it’s a period that remains the most timeless and modern. Those black and white films haven’t aged like some more recent ones have. And Roy is one of the leading icons of those times. I inherited him, his films and the works of his entire film talent pool (Asit Sen, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Salil Choudhury, S D Burman, Gulzar, who debuted with Bandini) as a family legacy of sorts. The bond with Roy is special.
Karan Johar – Rohit Khilnani, Entertainment Editor, NDTV Group
I get to discuss filmography with many filmmakers in Mumbai so I would want to be next to Karan Johar. Long-haul flights are anyway very boring so I hope to be next to someone who is fun and no in-flight entertainment can match up to him! I will try my best to get a lowdown of everything that’s happening in Bollywood.