Anurag Basu recently finished a short but the most challenging portion of his Ranbir Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra-Ileana D’Cruz starrer Barfee. But he isn’t quite heaving a sigh of relief. The real battle of preparing Ranbir for the part of the happy-go-lucky deaf-mute character begins now.
Though Ranbir won’t speak in the film, he will not be entirely mute.
Explains Anurag, “If you’ve interacted with mute people, you’d know they are not entirely quiet. They make these sounds in place of using proper words. And those sounds convey the entire emotional verbal impact of their thought processes. For a normal actor to ‘speak’ in that guttural tone is not easy.”
Anurag won’t resort to a voice-over like Sanjay Leela Bhansali did for Rani Mukerji‘s deaf and mute character in Black.
Explains Anurag, “Why must we treat cinema like a radio? Cinema is a visual medium. We don’t need to explain the character’s thoughts if the visuals do what they’re supposed to. The entire onus of conveying his character’s motivations is on Ranbir. Luckily by signing him I signed an actor who didn’t need to be trained from scratch about the behaviour of a deaf-and-mute character.”
Ranbir had learnt sign language during the making of Black where he was an assistant. Says Anurag, “The minute Ranbir heard the script he started talking to me in sign language. So I knew half the battle was won. Now we need to work on creating what Ranbir calls the sounds of silence.”
Ranbir needed time off to master the sound of a mute person. This reprieve to get a grip on the ‘sounds of the mute’ has come to the actor and his director Anurag Basu courtesy Imtiaz Ali who will be shooting a stadium-rock concert song sequence with Ranbir on May 15.
Interestingly, the inspiration for Ranbir in Barfee is Charlie Chaplin who made himself fully comprehensible through his silences in the silent films.
Says Anurag, “I want that kind of a visual impact in Ranbir’s silences where Charlie Chaplin could be understood fully without explanations. Ranbir is working on getting a ‘sound’ quality into his visuals.”