Having an actor on-board whose first language is not Hindi is a struggle for any right-thinking filmmaker. Dibakar Banerjee who is currently shooting his political thriller Shanghai in Latur has two non-Hindi actors to deal with.
Kalki Koechlin who is of French parentage barely manages to read across her Hindi lines. As for Bengali superstar Prosenjit, he isn’t quite our Hindi scholar either.
To make matters worse the French mademoiselle and the Bengali Babu had to rattle off lengthy Hindi dialogues in their very first schedule. The perplexed pair would have been in utter despair if it wasn’t for their comfort level and their tacit mutual understanding on how to overcome the grammatical and linguistic hurdles of the Hindi language.
Speaking from Latur, Prosenjit laughs, “Both Kalki and I had to work very hard on our Hindi. We’ve some very interesting scenes together. And the dialogues are pretty lengthy. Neither of us is familiar with the language. But she is wonderful as an actress, very sensitive. And everyone says my Hindi is not bad at all.”
The fact that the director Dibakar Bannerjee’s Hindi is impeccable in spite of being a Bengali has helped Kalki and Prosenjit to overcome their fear of the ps and qs.
Says Prosenjit, “Dibakar has his own unique style of briefing the actors. He is very good with actors. He took me and Kalki into the comfort zone. But he makes sure gets what he wants from us.”
Dibakar put both Kalki and Prosenjit through intense workshops before putting them in front of the camera. Before every shot the two are seen huddled together on location trying to make full sense of the rhetorical Hindi lines.