Abhishek Chaubey on Ray Adaptation: Can’t Bring Hungama Hai Kyun Barpa into the Mobile Age
Two dedicated strangers are a thing of the past, says director Abhishek Chaubey, certain his nostalgic adaptation of a Satyajit Ray story about two men meeting in a train compartment probably couldn’t take place in the mobile age .
Hungama Hai Kyun Barpa, Chaubey’s bedroom play on a journey through the life with Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao, is part of a four story anthology to celebrate Ray in his 100th birthday.
While Ray had defined Barin Bhowmick’s Ailment in the ’60s and’ 70s, Chaubey and writer Niren Bhatt decided to move Bengal history to the world of ghazal singing in the ’80s and’ 90s, just before the phones laptops don’t become an inseparable part of life.
“If I were to place the film in contemporary times, two people wouldn’t even talk to each other because they would be talking to someone else on their cell phones. If I can talk to my girlfriend, why do I have to talk to the stranger next to me? The world invariably moves in this kind of situation where two strangers are talking to each other, pouring out whole is a thing of the past, ”Chaubey told PTI in an interview.
The title, Hungama Hai Kyun Barpa, is inspired by the popular Ghulam Ali ghazal who features prominently in the 54-minute film. Bajpayee plays the ghazal singer Musafir Ali who was a kleptomaniac in the past. During a train trip, he meets Gajraj Rao’s wrestler turned sports journalist Aslam Beig. He remembers slipping Beig’s favorite watch years ago and is filled with guilt.
Chaubey, the director of films such as Ishqiya, Dedh Ishqiya, Udta Punjab and Sonchiriya, said he was initially approached by Sayantan Mukherjee, the showrunner, and Lalit Sharma, the producer, with a proposal to adapt another story. . But he focused on this one.
“I really like this story for the simple reason that I thought it would make a very heartwarming and extremely funny movie. There are some things Ray does in his short stories – there is always a psychological exploration of the main character, but the Most of the stories he wrote had either a supernatural, sci-fi or surreal element. In Barin Bhowmick…, while the psychological exploration is there, the story is also a comedy about manners ” , did he declare.
While Chaubey didn’t want to stray from the original text, he had to make some changes, like making Bajpayee’s character a Ghazal singer rather than a Nazrul singer, changing the first-person narrative to accommodate more dialogue and research. an exotic substitute for black tea that often goes down in history.
The research launched ‘chai noomi basra’ (dried lime tea), which is an integral part of Ali’s memory of his first meeting with Beig.
“The story gave me a chance to go from realism to magic because it’s from Musafir’s point of view and part of the story resides in his head. While writing, I had no idea Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao would be performing there, but I did know it gave me the opportunity to cast two brilliant actors and see them play against each other.
Bajpayee and Rao have known each other from their theater days in Delhi and the director has used their easy equation to benefit the story.
Chaubey took the exact dimensions of a train carriage and recreated it on the veranda of his office in Mumbai for the two comedians to rehearse.
“By the time we were on set, these guys knew absolutely what they were going to do. And then we could have fun with it because we had solved the biggest problems. And both of them were really excited about the movie. Manoj kind of learned to play the harmonium, especially the song he performs in the movie. Everyone was just happy to be on set and couldn’t wait to go ”.
The pandemic has had a huge role to play in how the story has been framed, which works like a bedroom room. If it hadn’t been for Covid, Chaubey, a real-life devotee, said he likely would have shot the movie on a real train. Did the trains and the nostalgia surrounding them have anything to do with her choice to adapt that particular story? Trains, replied Chaubey, recall the master himself. Ray was very fond of trains, which appear in his first film Pather Panchali and in Feluda’s novel Sonar Kella.
“All movies and all stories are literally a journey. This is what a protagonist goes through in the course of the story. In this sense, a train journey is a metaphor and this metaphor is also present in this story and there is an element of the period in the story. The hit hit ghazal also contributes to this feeling of nostalgia.
“When I was young, middle-class families only traveled by train and that evokes certain emotions in them. The train is a great setting for any story and Ray loved it too.
The film has been structured to be fluid. A key scene, which shows Bajpayee’s transition from person to successful Ghazal singer, was shot in one take to evoke the meaning of movement from past to present and dream to reality. Chaubey said her cinematographer Anuj Rakesh Dhawan and production designer Aditya Kanwar helped create “the music scene and the smooth transitions” in the film.
When asked if this would lead him to explore more comedies and other stories in the OTT space, Chaubey said he didn’t want the success or failure of his job to determine what he did. would choose to continue thereafter.
“Like any filmmaker, my mind has mapped my progression as an artist on a subconscious level. But I don’t want the immediate circumstances to affect me too much. I wanted to do a comedy when this movie came into my life but it had to do with two very intense movies in ‘Udta…’ and ‘Sonchiriya’, I just wanted to change my pace a bit.
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