It's been a while since his last film, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, opened to rave reviews. Since then, director Sudhir Mishra's only big-screen adventure has been playing a villain in Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal.
'Madhur doesn't listen,' Sudhir laughs as he tells Raja Sen about his upcoming ode to Bollywood of the 1950s, Khoya Khoya Chand, and his cheekily named modern day version of Devdas, Aur Devdas. Excerpts:
Where does Devdas come from, for you?
It comes from a conversation between Pritish (Nandy, his producer) and me. We were sitting around and we realised that it can be told again in a modern context. I thought about it, but it sounds very boring if I did Devdas, you know. Devdas was written by a 22-23 year old Sarat Chandra, a young man writing one of the better pulp novels of the 20th century.
But it has become somehow part of our mythology. You know, 'Devdas jaisa ho gaya.' Devdas and Paro have become like Laila-Majnu. So I thought it's interesting in terms of story, and I suddenly thought about it in a political context. So I thought what if Devdas is heir to a political legacy. The novel begins with Devdas coming back from England, and I think of my character there, whiling away his time, extending his youth, knowing very well that he'll have to fulfill that political legacy of his and come back to that.
So once I started that, I suddenly thought of Hamlet, and felt Hamlet and Devdas are similar type of characters. Devdas is also a to-be-or-not-to-be kind of indecisive character. Though Hamlet is a far more complex character, of course.
Then when you start thinking like that and put him in the backdrop of modern politics, the story starts taking a life of its own. Devdas is like many young political leaders today. Paro is a commoner in the original Devdas. Here, she's a civil servant's daughter. And when Paro goes away and gets married in the original Devdas, her mother's idea is to marry her into a bigger family. So what if she also gets married into a political family, and what then if Devdas and Paro are at opposite ends of the political spectrum?
In the picture: Soha Ali Khan and Shiny Ahuja in Sudhi Mishra's new film, Khoya Khoya Chand
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