People will choose Pinto over Hardy in `Trishna`: Winterbottom

New Delhi: Michael Winterbottom may be a big fan of Thomas Hardy but the director, who has adapted British writer`s `Tess of the D`urbervilles` into ‘Trishna’, believes that people will turn up to watch the film for leading lady Frieda Pinto.

Winterbottom, who has directed movies like ‘The Claim’, ‘The Killer Inside Me’ and Angelina Jolie starrer ‘A Mighty Heart’ in the past, has set the classic novel in contemporary India with parts being shot in rural Rajasthan and Mumbai.

With Pinto playing the lead role of Trishna, the film charts the journey of a rural girl torn between her love and life.

"Rather than people going to watch a film on a Thomas Hardy novel, I think more are going to be interested in watching Frieda Pinto. Hardy is only the starting point, at the end of the day a film is a film, which has to work by itself. I think Freida has given great publicity to the film, I will be glad if people come to see her," Winterbottom told
reporters in an interview.

Winterbottom, who has adapted Hardy`s `Jude The Obscure` and `The Mayor of Casterbridge` for the big screen earlier, says he set `Tess` in India as the country reflects the changing times explored in the novel.

"The spirit of Hardy can be captured better by setting the film in India now rather than making a period film set in England. `Tess` is about the change that has come in the rural community in terms of urbanisation, industrialisation. It is very hard to capture that in a period film.

"All the changes Hardy has talked about is happening in a more dynamic form in India. British society is more static. The life of people in India is more dynamic."

Winterbottom says transcending Tess to India has helped him be more true to the text.

"In the book Tess speaks a different English because she is educated while her parents speak a local dialect. That doesn`t exist in England anymore. Whereas with the film in India we could juxtapose rural dialects like Marwari with Hindi and English as that`s how modern day Indians speak."

Winterbottom has also taken certain liberties with the story of `Tess`, fusing the two male protagonists into one in the form of Jai, played by Riz Ahmed.

The film also touches upon Bollywood, showing Trishna working as a backup dancer in Hindi films. Winterbottom roped in filmmaker Anurag Kashyap to produce it partly and play bit roles with his actress wife Kalki Koechlin. Composer Amit Trivedi has lent music to the film.

"Sunil Bohra and Anurag Kashyap will help distribute the film in India. Anurag was on board in the creative process as well. He helped bring in the Indian unit as well as the composer Amit Trivedi," said Winterbottom.

"Trishna", which has been premiered at the International Film Festival of India and the Toronto film festival last year, releases in the UK this Friday and is set for an Indian release in May tentatively.