Abhishek Chaubey, the director of Udta Punjab, has preferred to stay out of the limelight in the entire tussle that the film has gone through in the last few days. In a no-holds-barred exclusive video interview with Content Head Broadband Faridoon Shahryar, Abhishek Chaubey shares his fears and stress factors with regards to the release of his film. He also talks about the misrepresentation of most debates in India today. He also adds, “If you are doing a critique of something, you are not defaming it.”
Abhishek, congratulations for the amazing victory that you guys have had.
I accept your congratulations, but, I truly deserve it when the film releases on June 17.
Is there any doubt whether the film will come out on 17?
I worked all night yesterday. Aman Gill and Madhu Mantena are tearing their hair apart to make the prints on time to send it to all the theatres. Keeping in mind whatever happened last month, never say it’s done. When it will be playing in the theatres on the 17, is when I am going to be happy.
Is it right to say that the last 10 days have been the most eventful days of your life?
Both, stressful as well as distressing! I am a filmmaker, I’ve made a movie and regardless of what the film is about, I’d like the audiences to come and watch the film and debate its merits or demerits. No filmmaker worth his salt would want this kind of attention to come onto his film where the film is being discussed for everything other than its creative aspects. I am sitting in a court and trying to listen to a judgement whether my film can come on the 17. All that I can say is that, I am relived since there’s a chance now that we are coming with the film on the 17. If that happens, then everything that has happened will be worth it.
The writing in your last film Dedh Ishqiya was outstanding. What kind of writing can we expect from Udta Punjab?
The film, more or less, targets the young people in this country. Whatever the film talks about deals with them! The film has a certain attitude, pace and edge which I think the youth of this country will connect with. But another target audience is the families of drug addicts or those who have seen drug abuse at close quarters.
Udta Punjab is expected to open much better than what it would have in normal circumstances. How confident are you that the film will be able hold on Monday and Tuesday?
I have made a film that can hold you on a seat in two and half hours. It’s a film you can take home. It’s not a film that you can forget by the time you reach your parking lot. But, it’s a film that you can go home, wake up the next day and think about it. But, if a large number of people are going to come for it on Friday, it’ll be great for all of us.
How do you react to Shyam Benegal‘s comments to the film? He has loved it.
He’s one of the respected filmmakers. So, if he has seen the film and has good words to say about it, I am humbled and very happy about it.
Do you feel happy that you have had a producer like Anurag Kashyap, who has backed you selflessly? Also, his own film Raman Raghav 2.0 releases a week later.
You know I lost faith at one point. I was like, let it be and let’s release after accepting the Censor cuts. He was the one who was like, “No. We are going to stand up. You are going to be the biggest idiot on earth if you are not going to defend your film.” And he decided to fight. He spent an entire day, 10 days away from the release of Raman Raghav 2.0, giving interviews. I really love him for what he did.
From the promos, Kareena Kapoor Khan is looking outstanding as well. What can be expected from her?
It’s a terrific performance. She’s a very unique character in the landscape of the film. She’s completely pure and a complete Samaritan. She’s the only character who knows how bad this thing is. She comes across as this very simple woman with no make-up look, but she’s actually a firebrand. Whatever she does it, she does it for selfless motives.
Do you feel upset that if you are trying to highlight an ailment in a state or a part of country, you are resorted to name calling and blamed for defaming that region. After all, every time you can’t sugar coat stuff. You want something to get better only when you love it deeply.
Absolutely, because Udta Punjab is borne out of a lot of love. We make movies on a problem, because, we are concerned about it. The assumption about Bollywood is that we are all party animals and we keep partying around all the time is not true! We work very hard. Most people like to watch two and half hours of entertaining cinema, and, yet, we are out there taking risks making a film on a certain issue plaguing the state. Moreover, there are no mollified intentions behind what we are doing. If you are trying to critique somebody, it’s called defamation and that’s not true. Every debate in this country unfortunately is made about politics. Not about politics, but it’s made about political parties. We should all grow up and not indulge in these kinds of tactics!