It was a good 2008 for Arbaaz Khan as he was seen in diverse roles in films like Fashion, Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Naa and Woodstock Villa and appreciated for his performances. Though Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye, Jai Veeru and The Stoneman Murders didn’t make any ripples this year, Arbaaz Khan is positive that Kisaan would certainly be noticed and appreciated for its theme, treatment and performances. Talking to Joginder Tuteja, he reemphasizes the fact that Kisaan remains entertaining (with box office in sight) even as the film takes audiences to a family in an Indian village.
In most of your films, you have played an urban guy. Was it challenging for you to actually adapt the psyche of someone who has a village as his origin?
Actually, my character in the film is urban since he has lived in the city for some part of his life for education purpose. Yes, but from origin perspective, he still has a village backdrop so those roots aren’t missed. He was born and brought up in a village up to a certain age so as an actor I actually enjoyed the best of both worlds. It wasn’t really difficult understanding what this character was all about.
This one appears to be a mix of a social film with a family drama at the centre of it. Is it the right way to describe it?
Bang on! Yes, Kisaan is a family drama with a backdrop of a ‘kisaan’ household. See, at the end of the day, a story has to be placed in some geography. Even if your story revolves around a father (Jackie Shroff) and his two sons (Sohail and myself), you need to have a backdrop. Now it could be a village or a city and we decided to take our film to the former.
Kisaan is a family drama with a backdrop of a ‘kisaan’ household.
Does the film explore issues like farmer suicide that are prevalent in villages across the country?
Dekho, hai to mainly yeh ek kisaan ke ghar ki kahani! But beyond that, we are not talking about facts and statistics and stuff like that. Yes, we do touch upon the life of this farmer family which inadvertently brings in the kind of problems that are faced by it; whether personal or environmental. In any case, we are not looking at making any huge statements here. After all there are problems that families face in cities as well. Pressures could be different there but then they are there for sure.
Well, farmer suicide is not prevalent in cities…
Agreed and so do things like draughts and famines which do not impact them directly; though indirectly they do for sure. There are topics that generally effect people in villages, including return of bank loans, and we have touched upon them though in a subtle way without pegging the entire narrative of the film on them. Ultimately, at its core, the film remains to be a drama about a father and two sons. Even though there are issues that have been raised, Kisaan stays on to be a mainstream film. It has been taken care that entertainment quotient isn’t compromised throughout the film’s narrative.
You have mentioned a couple of time about Kisaan telling the story of a family with a father figure at the top. In the film you have Jackie Shroff as your father. It must have been some experience working with a veteran like him, right?
Absolutely. He is a stalwart in his own right, a great actor and a fantastic human being. He has done such fabulous work in Kisaan and people will see him in a new light as he plays the role of a man who is much older than his actual age. He has played his part with such conviction; hats off.
Jackie Shroff has come up with such a powerful act and I am sure you would be so happy to see him in an author backed role in Kisaan
You seem to be in awe of him…
He has come up with such a powerful act and I am sure you would be so happy to see him in an author backed role in Kisaan. I can confidently say that today he is filling the gap that Dilip saab left behind during the days of Vidhaata and Shakti. There was a time period when actors were not seen in such roles but Jackie Shroff is inching towards playing such powerful and intense characters. I am sure Kisaan is just a start.
When the entire world is making rom-coms or comedies or action flicks, what made you go for a theme like this?
Arrey bhaiyya yeh kyo bhool jaate ho that a huge population in our country is made of kisaan! When as a country we are known for our agricultural base, why is it such a scandalous thought to be making a film with farming as the backdrop? Why do we sound so shocked with a title like Kisaan? Why should the film be looking risky for a few out there?
Wasn’t it a worrying thought about how audiences would be receiving the film?
As long as we can make a good story about the most popular and important people in our country, we are not worried. See, due to this entire multiplex culture, people start questioning that ‘arrey yeh picture ka title kaisa hai’, ‘yeh picture kis segment of audience ke liye bani hai‘ etc. etc. When we can expect a title like Company and appreciate it by stating – ‘Kya experiment hai yaar?’, why not respect something which is a part of us?