Shyam Benegal looks back as Zubeidaa turns 20: Don’t think anyone did the film for money


Zubeidaa, an inter-faith love story between an actor and a Rajasthani king, did not earn money at the time of its launch twenty years in the past however the film holds a particular place in director Shyam Benegal’s coronary heart as it displays a interval of transition in India- from a feudal society to a democratic one.

Benegal mentioned the story of Zubeidaa Begum caught his consideration when he learn Khalid Mohamed’s article in a newspaper and he thought it was an exquisite love story.

Mohamed, Zubeida Begum’s son from her first marriage, was initially hesitant as he was unsure about telling his mom’s story on the massive display however issues finally fell into place with Karisma Kapoor enjoying the title character, Manoj Bajpayee as the prince and Rekha as his first spouse in the 2001 launch.

“None of them really earned money. I don’t think anyone did the film for money. But the film did win the National award,” Benegal advised PTI in an interview on the film’s twentieth anniversary on Tuesday.

“I don’t think the film did well financially. We were happy with the way it all happened. I don’t think Farouq Rattonsey (producer) was happy, he was hoping he will make a little money,” the director mentioned about the film, which explores the romance between Zubeida Begum, an aspiring actor and Jodhpur Jodhpur Maharaja Hanwant Singh.

The couple died in a personal plane crash that Singh was flying in January 26, 1952 to rejoice his impending victory in India’s first election.

Benegal, credited for beginning the alternate cinema motion in the ’70s along with his classics Ankur (1973), Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976) and Bhumika (1977), mentioned he cherished the story of Zubeidaa as the film depicts a sure interval of transition in the Indian society.

Recalling how he too was born in Hyderabad earlier than India grew to become impartial, Benegal mentioned the Zubeidaa reminded him of his personal days when he might really feel the modifications round him.

“The feudal system was being dismantled, there was a churning going on in Indian society. I found that very fascinating. Certain people took time to adapt, while some were incapable. From a feudal situation, we turned into a democratic system. The story is set in that cusp moment.”

Asked whether or not it will be attainable to discover an inter-faith love story at the present time with none hassle, the veteran director mentioned there has by no means been a time in historical past when “people had full freedom” to make what they wished.

“Then or now, the fact is you have to work within what is possible and what is not, you have to stretch the limit of possibilities, you have to make what seems impossible, possible. That is important. You need to believe in your film,” mentioned the director, who’s amongst the most revered names in the Indian cinema.

Benegal, 86, mentioned the polarising that is occurring in society “needs to be corrected both on political and social level”.

“We are a democratic constitution and we are secular country. It means you don’t recognise the differences. You know there are (differences) but you don’t recognise them under the law. It is changing this kind of social change takes a long time.”

“These days there is a problem everywhere in the world but more and more in older and complex societies like us because we have multiple religions, communities, ethnic groups, languages, etc. We are a masala country and therefore these problems are also there. We are a multi-layered country, there are certain habits, attitudes that are medieval, that belong thousands years ago.”

The film, with an exquisite rating from A R Rahman, concludes Benegal’s trilogy that started with Mammo (1994) and Sardari Begum (1996) – all three written by Mohamed.

These tales, he mentioned, are ruminations of Mohamed’s circle of relatives, Mammo dealt along with his grandmother, Sardari Begum about an aunt whereas Zubeidaa on his mom.

For the versatile director too, tales are sometimes drawn from his experiences.

“When you are making something, there is always an autobiographical element in it. Otherwise, how do you develop your perspective, your understanding of the world? There are things that come from your own experiences. Some are closer to you or are from other people’s experiences but they ring a bell when you see or hear it.”

Recalling how the forged of the film got here collectively, Benegal mentioned he had labored with Rekha on Kalyug and knew that she was an “extremely capable actor” whereas Karishma’s title was steered by Mohamed.

“She is a quintessential actress. There is much more to her than you saw of her. Manoj is a fine actor, now you can see his range as a performer. He has always been keen to take on challenges as an actor. Karisma is a natural actor,” he mentioned.

Benegal is at the moment engaged on an Indo-Bangladesh co-production on the lifetime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“We are getting ready to shoot, it’s pre-production. We will shoot each in India and Bangladesh. The shoot will begin this yr. It is titled Banga Bandhu. Sheikh Mujibur was known as by that title therefore the title comes from there. The film is in Bengali so the forged is from Bangladesh.

“Arifin Shuvoo will play the title role, he is a very good actor,” the director mentioned.


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