Thursday, August 5, 2010

'I've learnt you can never underestimate your audience'

Parvin Dabbas, best known for his work in Monsoon Wedding and Khosla Ka Ghosla, is currently working on his directorial debut, Sahi Dhandhe, Galat Bande

Parvin Dabaas, the actor with a clipped firang accent, has been seen sparingly in films. And yet, he has two of the most popular and acclaimed films, Monsoon Wedding and Khosla Ka Ghosla to his credit. Now, the actor has turned his attention to his new film, Sahi Dhandhe, Galat Bande, which he is directing and also partially producing.

Ask him if filmmaking was always on his mind and he says, “Production was on my mind, but I hadn’t thought of direction. My idea has been to make films which I want to watch. Not the pop-corn entertainment. When I was writing the script, I knew how I wanted the film to be, so I took on the challenge of direction,” says the actor, who is married to Preeti Jangiani.

The film is about a gang of four friends (Parvin is one of them), who belong to a village on the outskirts of Delhi. The government wants a land vacated there, so as to facilitate an industrialist to build his factory. They want the protest of the farmers, who own the land, to be broken and entrust this job to the gang. The friends are torn between their desire to grab the fortune that awaits them and the demands of their conscience to help the farmers of the village they belong to. The film takes place in urban and rural Delhi and presents an image of a society stuck between a need for development and a government hungry for land. It also examines the media’s selfish and constant desire to see conflict.

Parvin says that though he spent a major part of his life in Toronto, and then went off to do an acting course in New York, he never lost touch with the village he was born in. And hence, the writing came naturally to him. “The village is called Kanjhawla and I stayed there as a kid. Even when we lived in Delhi, I used to go there quite often. It’s just one and half hour’s drive. Also, it’s not really a village with kachcha ghars. It is a modernish village actually. So it’s a subject I could very well relate to,” he says.

The film has actors like Anupam Kher, Yashpal Sharma, Neena Gupta and Sharat Saxena, among others. Yet, the fact that it’s a small film, with no A list stars is not worrying Parvin too much. “I am confident people will come and watch. It’s not a preachy film. And people are very smart, they can gauge a film from its promos — they don’t see recycled stuff. They want something fresh and interesting.”
Parvin’s past success in films like Khosla...and Monsoon Wedding has taught him to respect his audience. “When I did Khosla, people said, ‘Isme star nahin hai’ . They were laughing at the subject and title. But these films performed excellently. I never expected Monsoon Wedding to be such a big success. I’ve learnt you can never underestimate your audience. Too many people make too many assumptions about how a film should be,” he says.
He even quotes recent films, to stress how today’s audience has matured. “You had Udaan and Tere Bin Laden releasing a couple of weeks ago. Both films did well, compared to another film that released with stars in the same week. If my film does badly, it will be because it wasn’t good enough. I would never blame the audiences,” he says.

Now that he is interested in filmmaking, will he be putting acting on the back-burner? “I would like to explore both areas. I’ve already worked with top directors like Mira Nair, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar, but there are many more filmmakers I want to work with. Time is on my side, and besides, acting involves less headache. I can just sit back,” he smiles.

The actor may have done a couple of memorable films, but he’s not been a very visible actor. And when he’s cast, it is mostly as an NRI or an urban high-flier. Isn’t he getting typecast? “It’s just that my films which became successful had me in those kind of roles. I played a different character in Via Darjeeling, where the guy was street-smart, not very clean-cut. But the film didn’t do too well, so it wasn’t noticed. But I hope to do a variety of roles,” says the actor, who was also seen in Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin mara and My Name Is Khan. Here’s hoping Parvin joins the growing list of promising new-age directors.
— Sandhya Iyer


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