Naseeruddin Shah or Victor Banerjee? Director Dholakia undecided

September 16th, 2008 - 9:23 am ICT by IANS  

Bipasha BasuMumbai, Sep 16 (IANS) Director Rahul Dholakia is finding it tough to finalise the cast for his film on militancy in Kashmir, especially for characters based on real-life politicians. He just can’t decide whether to rope in Naseeruddin Shah or Victor Banerjee to play a hardline separatist leader in “Lamhaa”.Naseer with his mastery of the Urdu language and the art of oratory would be perfect. But the actor has done several films on militancy and political extremism, including his new release, “A Wednesday”.

“Naseer would be perfect. He has the mesmeric presence required to hold large audiences in a political thrall. But he has played the suave radical earlier in ‘Sarfarosh’,” Dholakia told IANS.

The other choice is Victor Banerjee, who has shown keen interest in “Lamhaa”, which also stars Bipasha Basu.

“Victor was one of the first actors I sent the script to. He loved it. My only reservation was that Victor has always played soft gentle characters like the ones in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Ghare Baire’ and David Lean’s ‘A Passage To India’,” said Dholakia whose film “Parzania”, on the Gujarat riots of 2002, had won him much critical acclaim.

The director says he enjoyed watching Victor Banerjee in Santosh Sivan’s Kashmiri fable “Tahaan”.

“I really liked him in the grandfather’s role in ‘Tahaan’. He brings a certain warmth to the table. And with his gentle eyes he can make the hardliner speaking about ‘Azad Kashmir’ look really credible.”

Sarika, who also starred in “Tahaan”, was Dholakia’s original choice in “Lamhaa” too to play an abandoned wife. The actress had also acted in “Parzania”.

“But she has already played that role in ‘Tahaan’. And even in my ‘Parzania’ she had similar emotions to project. So I’ve cast an equally talented and neglected Shernaz Patel in that role,” Dholakia said.

The director, however, said that he found Santosh Sivan’s film on Kashmir to be too sweet.

“It wasn’t the reality in Kashmir that I’ve visited repeatedly in the course of my research for ‘Lamhaa’. But I also know ‘Tahaan’ was a difficult film to shoot. I liked the performances, specially the child Purav Bhandare. I’m bracing myself to face severe climactic and security hardships in Kashmir.”

Dholakia admits that Bipasha was the only leading lady who wasn’t daunted by the troubled situation in Kashmir.

“Most actors are scared to shoot in the valley. Bipasha was willing to take up the challenge. After ‘Parzania’, which was about the Gujarat situation, I want to ensure that my film on Kashmir gets seen by a large audience, which meant I needed actors with a commercial clout.”

Asked whether the dusky Bipasha would fit in as a Kashmiri, he said that he had seen a lot of dark-skinned Kashmiri girls.

“Bipasha doesn’t play the stereotypical Kashmiri. She’s willing to give the role time and attention to make it look authentic. It’s a very unconventional and challenging role. She shares very contrasting relationships with Sanjay Dutt and Kunal Kapoor. There’s no romantic involvement with either hero.”

In the meanwhile, Dholakia said that he had to change the script many times according to the changing situation in Kashmir.

“Things are changing so rapidly in the valley. I’m re-writing most of the screenplay for the third time. In my earlier drafts I had predicted what’s happening now in the valley. Now in my final draft I’ve to pre-empt the political situation so my film won’t look outdated when we come out,” Dholakia explained.

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