Irada would make powerful impact

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Feb 2017 15:54:27

By Anshuman Bhargava,

MP girl Aparnaa Singh is awaiting the release of her directorial debut Irada with bated breath. It is just days to go and she has a packed and exciting schedule ahead. The Hitavada caught up with her amid all the bustle and she opened up candidly on a range of topics right from environment terrorism to her memories of Bhopal, from her experience working with Anurag Kashyap to the high of directing Naseeruddin Shah for her big Bollywood break.

What are her expectations from the film, especially when it is an offbeat genre, away from the regular masala flicks Bollywood largely serves up? Aparnaa is positive. “I am very hopeful that the film would do well. There is a growing class of informed and intelligent viewers who want different genres and tastes in Bollywood, which are away from the regulation flicks of dance, music, masala, romance, revenge and glitz. So I am sure the film will leave a mark. It is going to make some powerful statements which will make people sit up and think,” she said.

But why this dark drama - sinister, intriguing and raging - to start a directorial venture with? To this Aparnaa said, “I have always been part of films that make us think and question, be it co-scripting for Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal or doing the research for Black Friday. So, choosing a film like Irada is just an extension of my choice of doing films that connect with the audience and educate them, without preaching. The film belongs to the noir thriller genre, with a strong resonance of environmental terrorism that we experience daily. See what’s happening to Punjab. The epicentre of the green revolution is today a cancer belt. The crops it produces are often labelled as those that can cause cancer. It’s scary. There was a need to make a film like this, which would wake us up to a grave reality. Personally, I like films which are well researched. See the films of Anurag (Kashyap) and Tigmanshu (Dhulia). They are knowledgeable people and are well-read. They are some of the finest that we have today. So, they are sort of torchbearers for me.”

However, she clarified, “Irada is not a gory or dark film. It has a lot more to it. It’s a perfect balance between facts and drama. It has a lot to do with water too.” Water brought us to Bhopal. How can we talk of water and miss Bhopal? So we asked her about Bhopal. Was Bhopal on her mind when scripting Irada? “Well, definitely. Given the fact that I hail from Jabalpur and have spent considerable time in Bhopal, somewhere deep down it has to affect my film,” Aparnaa said. As the chat drifted on, she said some interesting facts. “You know the Bada Talaab of Bhopal is a very popular place, where people assemble in the evenings, catch up with friends and gorge upon the delicious roadside fare. However, the truth is that there is something poisonous about that water post the gas tragedy. No matter what the Union Carbide officials say, some amount of toxicity has definitely seeped down into the soil, into the water. The changes that it has brought about in the ecosystem of Bhopal will remain irreversible.”

So coming back to the film, how did she handle a stalwart like Naseeruddin Shah? It was a dream-come-true experience for the young director. “No other actor could have done justice to the character he plays in the film. He has reached a state where he gives the perfect shot in one go, without having to put in any extra effort. When I went to his van to discuss the scene, he made the environment so conducive that I forgot I was talking to a stalwart. He listened to me intently and gave his valuable inputs. Indeed it was a great learning experience for me,” Aparnaa said. And what about Arshad Warsi? “Actually, both are legends in their own right. Their performances are powerful and when they work together, its sheer magic, since they also share a great onscreen chemistry. While Naseer saab gets into his character the moment you say ‘action’, Arshad is more spontaneous. He is amazing and also helps in improvising the shots.”

As we wound up the conversation, we wished her all the success for the new venture. We too are waiting with her for Irada to hit the screens. To dish this story as a palatable one, which could entertain and educate at the same time, was indeed difficult for the director. By her own admission, this was the most difficult story to script, because she had to constantly keep striking the right balance, keeping the taxing demands of Bollywood in view. Her effort would certainly show on screen.
Also starring Divya Dutta, Sagarika Ghatge and Sharad Kelkar, Irada is releasing on February 17.