Is bringing on Charlie Chaplin influence in 'Happi' a conscious call?
See, the fact is that I have been terribly in love with Chaplin's work. I have seen his films throughout my life, whether in my childhood days, growing up years or now. So yes, there is a definite impact that his films have made on my psyche. I guess that's something which was hard to ignore when work on 'Happi' began.
You have earlier worked with Pankaj Kapoor in award winning film 'Dharm'. How did you go about making a complete shift and turn to comedy with 'Happi'?
In fact the idea of 'Happi' was suggested by Pankaj Kapoor himself. This was a story that he had written years back and narrated that to me. I was bowled over by the core concept of the story and began work on it immediately. I started thinking about how I would have wanted to tell it on screen.
And this is where the Chaplin influence came in?
(Smiles) Exactly. I have closely observed Chaplin's language of telling a story on celluloid. The way he makes comments on human beings or the political situations is something that was so characteristic of him. It was this thought process that I wanted to take forward through 'Happi'.
In 'Happi', you are telling the story of a man who comes to a big city and is surprised with the manner in which people live life there. Isn't it a little too old fashioned?
But isn't it actually the case today even with those who actually have been living in the big cities for decades? With no time to spend with their own friends and family and hardly finding a moment of their own to smile, they are always in a constant rush. I started thinking that if Charlie Chaplin would be put into such a situation, how would he have reacted? What would he have done? Whether he would have changed people around him or would he himself have adapted to the situations? Or would he have run away from it all? This is what proved to be a starting point for 'Happi'.
Technically though how much is 'Happi' similar to Chaplin cinema?
From the technique perspective though, I chose to keep 'Happi' as contemporary as it gets instead of going back to the style that Charlie Chaplin adopted for his films. I have been true to the theme but when it comes to technique, I didn't think of making it in 'Black & White' or as a silent film.
Please carry on...
There was never a thought to take the imagery of Charlie Chaplin cinema into 'Happi'. That wouldn't have worked. Instead, I chose to present the film as modern day interpretation of Chaplin's cinema. In my own humble way I can say that while Chaplin is a master of this genre, we all have tried to stay true to the inspiration.