Ritesh loves telling Indian stories to the world
Filmmaker Ritesh Batra has a global appeal to his works. His debut The Lunchbox (2013) was loved internationally. Last year, he directed English films The Sense of an Ending and Our Souls at Night (2017) that starred actors Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. His latest, Photograph, will be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
He is ecstatic about the platform. “Sundance is an amazing platform to start a film’s journey. I like telling Indian stories to the world, and want to reach a global audience. Therefore, film festivals are extremely important. The Lunchbox began at Cannes, that’s where the trade comes and views. That’s where the audience is seated and then it gets released quickly after that.”
Since he has dabbled with both English and Hindi films, we ask him if he finds any difference in the way actors in the two industries function? “Each actor is different, of course .... However, I don’t find that much difference between actors in the East and the West because the process is always the same,” he says, adding, “There are so many wonderful, well-trained actors in India, but we don’t have enough parts for them that deserve their talent. That’s what I am hoping my (production) company can contribute to in a small way.” Talking of talent, Batra shares that while the stories chooses the actors, he “wrote Photograph with actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in mind”. He says, “The role is about a guy from a small village in Uttar Pradesh, who comes to Mumbai and becomes a photographer at the Gateway of India. Nobody else but Nawaz could have played it.”As for the female lead, actor Sanya Malhotra, who plays a middle-class girl, was given an audition call after Batra “saw her in Dangal”.
The scripting took five years. “I had been writing it slowly and thoughtfully. I started writing it after The Lunchbox released. It’s also the first production of my company, so it felt different. I had more responsibility and control, and I always want to control creatively,” he says.
I like telling Indian stories to the world, and want to reach a global audience. So, film festivals are extremely important RITESH BATRA FILMMAKER