“I got to explore a part of me that I had forgotten exists,” says National Award-winning director Onir on his latest offering Kuch Bheege Alfaz, produced by Yoodlee Films.
When the filmmaker read the script, which was part of the Drishyam Sundance Lab, he was transported to his youth when he lived in chat rooms, spoke to strangers all night, and made new connections. “Some of them translated into blind dates and sometimes people wouldn’t show up. There was a time when I didn’t know which was the real me, the ‘night-time me’ who inhabited chat rooms, or the ‘day-time me’ who went about life like anyone else,” he says.
Kuch Bheege Alfaaz has a similar world; it is all about Tinder and Whatsapp and memes. The story struck a chord with him about his younger days. “In a way I have been through a similar journey as Archie, my female protagonist. Of having low esteem, setting up blind dates, of being rejected. This part of the story is true for my own life.”
Kuch Bheege Alfaaz, claims Onir, is perhaps his most romantic film. The script went through many changes including changing the setting from Delhi to Kolkata. “Kolkata has a romance about it that I was dying to tap into. I wanted the trams as a place for romance in the film. I wanted Kolkata to be present distinctly in the story and the same time not distract the viewer from my protagonists.”
The city of joy in Onir’s world is a gentle one, one that allows its inhabitants to love and dream. His lead actor Zain Durrani’s poetry inspired Onir to incorporate Urdu shayari in the script. “Zain plays an RJ and I needed him to absorb the stories he tells about people.” As for his female lead Geetanjali Thapa, Onir goes as far as to say that she is the most talented actress he has worked with.
On making a film that is topical, he says, “When I made My Brother Nikhil, everyone said I was ahead of my time, that if it had released today, people would have been ready for it. I am tired of hearing this. Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is as relevant right now as much as it will be 10 years later.”
Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz explores the world of social media; Onir learnt a lot during the research of the film. “I showed Juhi Chawla the film and she commented that she had no idea that there were actual people making those internet memes. We get about twenty of those in a day and we never think about the source,” he says.
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