Films based on real-life characters always seem to get into trouble. Whether it was the real life Bandit Queen who wanted to be compensated by Shekhar Kapoor or Bhanwari Devi who created a Bawandar in Jagmohan Mundhra’s life, biographical films almost always court trouble in this country.
Quick on the heels of Charles Sobhraj threatening to sue author Farrukh Dhondy for borrowing from his life, UTV and director Dibakar Banerjee have clammed shut on the origins of the car-stealing protagonist Abhay Deol in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
Apparently, the character is inspired by the life and crimes of Devender Singh alias Bunty who’s currently in jail for stealing posh cars from the elite circles of Delhi.
Doing a complete volte face on the earlier stance that the producers have received a letter from the real-life crime-dude asking for monetary compensation for creative cannibalization, UTV’s Siddharth Roy-Kapoor says, “We’ve received no intimation at all from anyone of this sort.”
Earlier sources from UTV had been quoted in the press as admitting that Devender had indeed approached the producers for monetary compensation.
Says the director Dibakar Bannerjee, “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! is partly inspired by the story of Devender Singh’s life. But it’s a composite of many lives. So whom should we compensate? Even one of Paresh Rawal‘s character (he plays several characters) is inspired by a real-life character. And some incidents are from my own childhood. Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! is about today’s acquisitive materialistic lifestyle where nothing is enough and what the neighbour possesses is always more desirable than what we have. Everyone wants more. But no one knows how much is enough.”
There seems to be no end to director Dibakar Banerjee’s troubles. From Welcome to Dostana…it’s a prolonged season of comedies in Bollywood. And the Khosla Ka Ghosla director was apparently asked to deliver another laughathon from his producers even though Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! was not really meant to be comedy.
“It has a lot of humour. But I’d be seriously offended if anyone called it a comedy. You’re right. It’s the season of comedies. And when a director goes to producers with a project that doesn’t star one of the big stars, he’s asked to make a comedy. However my film may be pitched, I hope audiences see it in the right spirit.”
Dibakar had a tough time writing this ‘comedy.’ Jaideep Sahni who played such a big hand in making Khosla Ka Ghosla what it was, decided to write exclusively for Yash Raj Films.
Dibakar had no option but to pen Oye Lucky himself with Urmi Javekar. But there’s no rancour about it. “Jaideep is doing well for himself at Yash Raj. I wish him well. He must direct a film soon.”
There’s also no bitterness about missing out on the National award. “I didn’t get a National award for Khosla Ka Ghosla. But the film did. So it was a triumph for the whole team.”
Making Khosla was not easy for Dibakar. It had almost gone to the realm of the shelved when UTV retrieved it. “But I didn’t see it as a struggle. It’s because of my good friend Jaideep. He called me one day. I was a normal yuppy ad-maker. Jaideep did all the struggling, not me. He got me the offer to direct Khosla Ka Ghosla. It wasn’t an easy film to package and pre-sell. In fact I’d say the producers and writer struggled for me.”
Today, when Jaideep Sahni has moved to posher pastures, it is natural for Dibakar to feel bereft. Khosla Ka Ghosla took almost three years to be completed and released. “I’d say der aaye durust aaye. Thank God, Khosla released after the multiplex audiences ware alert and ready.”