Unusual character sketch creation for SHANGHAI

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Abhay Deol and Emraan Hashmi have gone through a complete metamorphosis in Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai.  So much that both Abhay and Emraan are almost unrecognizable in the roles.  Those who have seen them on the sets have not been able to recognize them in their get up.

Writer-director Dibakar Banerjee too  admits  that  when he was writing the script of Shanghai, that it was none other than Abhay Deol that came to his imagination for Krishnan’s character.  He couldn’t imagine anyone else.  Then when he started writing Jogi’s sketch he remembered  Emraan Hashmi from Footpath (2003). “ I had recognized his talents in the film. He was completely approachable and capable of living his character on screen” says Dibakar.  But now that Emraan was a star Dibakar had his own inhibitions about Emraan agreeing to doing something so different. “Fortunately it took just five minutes for Emraan to say he was ready” says Dibakar.

What followed  informs Dibakar was  the process of brining the sketches to life which proved to be a grueling task.  “From  Moustaches to ear piercing, dark circles, lightly shaded,  paan-stained and yellowed teeth, tattoos painted on brown, sunbrunt arms.. Then the ribbed body turned slack with a protruding paunch as Emraan went on an eating  binge.  Jogi slowly emerged from my sketches.

“Jogi  explains Dibakar “is  a street-smart nobody from Jodhpur. Once a stud who landed small-time modeling assignment, he had slowly gone to seed, but there’s still a trace of the stud in him. It’s there in the jeans, worn well below the bulging belly, the sking tight shirts he wears.  Emraan still can’t get over it “(laughs Dibakar).

“All in all Jogi is still sexy in a dirty, grimy kind of way, with stale, dry sweat patches under his arms.  Many times  I’d holler for the sweat patches to be attached every time Emraan stepped n the sets” adds Dibakar.

“Emraan was startling and every time he sauntered onto the sets,  with his different walk I would watch the unit silently for reactions. This was the Jogi I’d dreamt of , it gave me gooseflesh to see him for real” he exclaims.

“I remember Emraan coming for some patchwork shots six months after we had wrapped up Shanghai, his face lean, his body taunt, his gait his own looking at him, it was impossible to relate him to the Jogi from my film” he states enthusiastically

On the other hand Abhay was just as amazing. Towards the climax, Krishnan has a long interaction with a key character. Abhay has been rehearsing for the scene since 6pm. When we have started rolling at 1 am, sitting at the monitor with my production designer, I had tears in my eyes,” admits Dibakar.

“The  ‘yay’ guy I knew was gone. In his place was my IAS officer with a stooped shoulder walk, moustache, glasses and a butter-wont melt expression on his face. The buttoned-up shirts, ties and trousers came with the costume, but the slight Tamil accent was all Abhay’s. He had put his conditions even before he shot. He made me sit in the make up van for  30 minutes with his diction coach and rehearse his lines. The efforts have paid off”,   informs Dibakar.

“It was unbelieveable watching the North Indian Jat boy turning into a Tam-Brahm bureaucrat!” adds Dibakar.

Emraan Hashmi on Jogi:

While Dibakar can’t stop singing praises of  his characters in the film, Emraan Hashmi says “ It was challenging and I  took it up  even if it meant losing the body I’d worked  for .”

“While shooting my scenes I  would often look into the mirror and  ask Dibakar  “couldn’t you have made me look worse?  And Dibakar would laugh.

“We  also got a local to record the lingo and fill us in on Jogi’s background. What would a small town wheeler-dealer who shoots marriage videos and porn movies do in the evening? Eat chicken and fish maybe? This kind of research and 10 odd workshops demolished me as an actor and brought Jogi to life”  says Emraan.

Abhay Deol on Krishna

“It was not easy playing Krishna. Dibakar almost grilled us not only on the looks, but the posture and the gait and everythingI play a Tamil Brahmin in the film, and being as IAS officer posted in Maharashtra, I needed to perfect a lingo that was largely clean Hindi with more Marathi than Tamil words, but spoke with a subtle south Indian accent, I worked with a diction coach for 10 days. He also accompanied me on the sets. I even learnt the Tamil alphabets” says Abhay.

Dibakar’s instructions were clear right from the start. “The look was that of a beauracrat…Buttoned up shirts and ties, glasses and a moustache that wasn’t like the one I’d worn in Manorama-Six Feet Under. The end result: unrecognizable”   such characters give you a different high” adds Abhay.       

Mud-slinging gossip floating about Anurag Kashyap

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Every great director has a back-lash coming his way once he is successful. Being a strong supporter and ardent fan of Anurag Kashyap’s films, it’s hard to accept the unsavoury and malicious gossip circulating about him. Read on, and you will realize there is no truth to it.

It is him who has been proclaiming this from every available forum. A few years back while imparting valuable and treasure-worthy gyan to a film festival crowd he disclosed this important guru-mantra. He repeated the same thing again in one of the sessions on the second day of FICCI Frames 2012 that was also addressed by the other ‘new-age’ star directors of Bollywood Imtiaz AliZoya AkhtarDibakar Banerjee, and Amol Gupte.

Kashyap’s modus-operandi is very simple. He tells his producers the story that they like and goes ahead and makes the film he likes. This probably was the reason Kumar Mangat, the producer of NO SMOKING, believed the film was against the lethal cancer-causing habit. It finally turned out to be Kashyap’s existential magnum opus, incomprehensible and intractable even by a learned film reviewer like the late Nikhat Kazmi. And probably this could be the reason the ace director has not been able to get around Aamir Khan who tends to leave nothing to chance while doing a film and has the meticulous habit of interviewing and hand-picking even his production crew.


Some years back Kashyap had prematurely announced that Aamir would do his Danny Boyle produced film BOMBAY VELVET. It did not happen and the film, according to reports, is finally being made with Ranbir Kapoor in the lead. One wonders if Kashyap has some surprises in store for Mr. Boyle too.