Now, Anurag Basu plans English `Barfi!`

Mumbai: After treating Hindi-viewing audiences to ‘Barfi!’, director Anurag Basu plans to cook up an English version of the movie for non-Hindi audiences. He says ‘Barfi!’ is his most personal film ever, and is confident that a movie with only a few dialogues could strike a chord with the viewers all across.

‘I`ve to confess we`re toying with the idea of putting out an English version of the film,’ said Basu in an interview.

‘Barfi!’, starring Ranbir Kapoor as a deaf and mute boy, Priyanka Chopra as an autistic girl, and Ileana D`Cruz in the role of a Bengali girl, has tugged at the heartstrings of the audiences with its simplicity and heartwarming narrative.

What`s next?

‘Ranbir and I are committed to make the Kishore Kumar biopic together. That will take some time. So in the meanwhile, I am making a small film,’ he said:

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. How do you plan to take `Barfi!` ahead of the non-Hindi audience?

Well, I`ve to confess we`re toying with the idea of putting out an English version of the film. I can`t say much about that right now. Let`s see. The film has been to the Pusan and Marrakesh film festivals. The only reason it wasn`t at the Toronto International Film Festival is because we were too busy releasing the film worldwide to take it to Toronto. But those sections of non-Indian viewers who have seen `Barfi!` say it has the potential to break through the language barrier.

Q. You had a frightening brush with mortality when you fell ill with cancer. Is that what gave you the strength to celebrate life so vigorously in `Barfi!`?

Yes, I think so. After my illness, I wrote other darker films namely `Gangster` and `Life... In a Metro`. But I think `Barfi!` is my coming-of-age film. It`s not a perfect film. But this is my most personal film.

Q. Did you ever fear Ranbir`s deaf-and-mute act would fall flat?

I think we give too much importance to words in our cinema. Surely there has to be a difference between radio plays and cinema! I`d have had even less dialogues. But since there was a complicated crime involved in the storytelling, I had to offer explanations through voiceovers by Ileana d`Cruz and Saurabh Shukla. But not for a minute did I feel handicapped because Ranbir had no dialogues. In my earlier films too, I`ve experimented with a lot of silences.

Q. Priyanka Chopra as the autistic girl is flawless. Did you have to work hard on stripping her glamour?

It`s so ironical that we Indian filmmakers get complimented when our actors give credible performances. Isn`t that a given for any film? I think my actors trusted me with what I had in mind. Priyanka shed her vanity completely.

Q. You earlier made some unoriginal films like ‘Saaya’, ‘Kucch To Hai’ and ‘Tumsa Nahin Dekha’?

You know I don`t know why `Kuchh To Hai` and `Tumsa Nahin Dekha` are credited to me. The former I gave up, and the latter I fell ill and left.

Q. Today you are the most original voice in Hindi cinema?

I am not going to change my priorities after `Barfi!`. And to say I am the most original is not correct. The credit for doing an original get-happy film goes to Rajkumar Hirani long before I made `Barfi!`.

Q. I saw a lot of Kamal Haasan and Sridevi from `Sadma` in Ranbir and Priyanka.

`Sadma` was never a reference point. But I love that film. It`s one of my favourites. So maybe subconsciously I was influenced. In `Sadma`, Sridevi was like a 10-year old child. Priyanka is not a child in my film.

Q. But you can`t deny the influence of Charlie Chaplin on Ranbir`s performance?

I won`t even try to deny it. Even before Ranbir started, I told him to watch Chaplin`s silent films. There`s a definite influence of Chaplin in Ranbir`s character.

Q. What next?

Ranbir and I are committed to make the Kishore Kumar biopic together. That will take some time. So in the meanwhile, I am making a small film.

Q. No film of yours can be small after `Barfi!`.

Not in idea and thought. But in budget. It would be a positive, happy film. But you can`t slot me as a happy filmmaker. I consciously try to make different films each time.

Q. One critic asks, if `Barfi!` is Anurag Basu`s, then who directed `Kites`?

Ha ha. I am proud of `Kites` too. And I am not being diplomatic. It wasn`t so bad. It`s my film. I don`t disown it. True, it was made in the democratic spirit and the producer Rakesh Roshan was also present during the shooting. But I called the shots. `Kites` is as much my film as `Barfi!`.

IANS/Subhash K Jha

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