Out with Daadi, in with Naani -Ava Mukherjee

May 14th, 2009 - 7:13 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

Out with Daadi, in with Naani -Ava Mukherjee 84-year-old Ava Mukherjee may have won hearts as the Ayurvedic Concepts Dadima, but people still stop her on the streets to ask her how Shahrukh is doing. Why? Because thanks to re-runs of “Devdas” on TV, they see her as Dev’s beloved Dadima again and again. But that was then, this is now - her most ambitious role, one she has taken on with the vitality and vigour of a 34 year old. Meet “Detective Naani”.

Tell us a little about your film “Detective Naani”
“Detective Naani” is a feel-good family film that happens to be a mystery thriller as well. A crime is committed in Naani’s society complex in Mumbai. When she decides to solve the case along with her 2 grandkids, neighbours and dog Bruno, the laughs, thrills and spills start rolling.

So, it’s a children’s film?
It’s a film for all ages. Kids, teenagers, 30-somethings, senior citizens, all play a major role in solving this crime. Each one approaches the case through his/her own point of view, giving rise to hilarious hijinks, romantic squabbles, nail-biting tension and emotional moments of drama.

The film seems to have many characters. Then why is it called “Detective Naani”?
Because Naani is the sole witness to the crime. When no one believes her story, she becomes the leader of this team of home-made detectives. Her relentless search for one little victim forms the heart and soul of the story.

How did you approach the role? Did you identify with Naani?
Haha, funnily enough, I don’t have any grandchildren. But I love kids. I’m a people person. I love being active and in touch with everything that’s going on in the world. I drool over Gregory Peck and George Clooney at the same time, and can watch a Kishore Kumar or an Akshay Kumar comedy any number of times.
So when I read this script I felt that this was a very unconventional Naani, a real “cool cat”, as my daughter would say. Who can resist that. I even worked hard to learn Hindi for the role.

Any memorable moments while working on this film?
Oh yes. The scenes with the kids and dog always kept me laughing. Our Labrador dog Bruno was a character. The director had a running shot which started with little Nakul giving Bruno food from the dining table, then taking a phone call, then getting up and answering the doorbell.

In one take Bruno would refuse the food, but when Nakul would take the phone call Bruno would start sniffing him, searching for the food. I don’t know how the kids kept a straight face.
In the next take, Bruno would again refuse the food, but when Nakul would finish the phone call and go off to answer the door, then Bruno would quietly steal the food from the table and eat it up. When Bruno finally got it right, it turned out to be the most boring take.

Any shooting experiences involving you?
Ah, my poor memory was a big joke on the set. Having the main role means remembering so many lines! In one scene I had to be very tough with the CID, and there was a lot of important dialogue to be delivered in one flow. I did it with full force, and then when the director said “Cut” I collapsed in relief and went, “Oof, orre baapre” in Bengali. Everyone cracked up. After that, the cast and crew would keep saying “Orre baapre”

What kind of genre does “Detective Naani” come under?
“Detective Naani” doesn’t come under the usual horror, murder, romance or comedy genre. It draws from real life where we go through so many emotions all the time, from laughter to sorrow, fear…to hope, love and warmth.

For all the feel-good fun that happens while solving this case, the crime itself is a very serious one, the kind that makes the headlines on a regular basis. And though the characters get caught up in larger-than-life situations, they are basically like you and me, real and relatable.

Why should people go and see “Detective Naani”?
So that they can feel good for days and days. So that they feel inspired by watching ordinary people do extraordinary things to right a wrong. We are living in extraordinary times after all, and now is the time for us to be alert, active, plucky citizens. If Naani & Co. can do it, anyone can. -Sampurn Media
Out with Daadi, in with Naani -Ava Mukherjee

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