Pickpockets more heroic than gangsters: ‘Bhindi Bazaar’ directorBy Priyanka Sharma, IANS
Sunday, January 9, 2011
NEW DELHI - It seems Bollywood is still not done with exploring Mumbai’s underbelly and the latest to join the bandwagon is “Bhindi Bazaar Inc.” set in the backdrop of pickpocketing, which director Ankush Bhatt feels is more heroic than a gangster killing with a gun.
“Pickpocketing to me is more heroic than a gangster killing with a gun. I find it very fascinating that a thief is able to flick a person’s purse in the middle of a crowd of 200 to 300 people. It is something that creates curiosities, so I decided to make it the backdrop of my film,” Bhatt told IANS on phone from Mumbai.
The film revolves around pickpockets and shows how they use their intelligence and spontaneity to survive in the risky profession. Written by Ghalib Asad Bhopali and Kapil Gulati, the film starts with a game of chess and shows how a nobody from nowhere uses his brains and wits to make his way to the top.
“The thought of using chess as the medium to move the story quite excited me and the writers. But as we progressed, we realised that all characters in the film were in one group. And that never happens in chess. You can’t have a white piece killing a white piece,” said the 32-year-old who grew up in Mumbai.
“So, we reworked the entire script to make the white pawn manipulate the black to kill its own teammate. The film opens in different layers,” he added.
A graduate in physics, Bhatt’s stint with showbiz started with theatre where he directed some plays. “Then I went to television. I made shows like ‘Heena’, ‘Aflatoon’ and ‘Chacha Chaudhary’. After working with TV for years my career became stagnant and I decided to direct a movie,” said Bhatt whose first directorial venture was Marathi movie “Man Pakhru Pakhru”.
While researching for “Bhindi Bazaar”, Bhatt realised that many are into pickpocketing either just for the pleasure they derive from it or to carry forward the legacy of their fathers.
“Intense research was conducted to understand the pysche of the pickpocketers. We spent some days in Bhindi Bazaar and talked to at least 30 to 40 such people. I met a young boy, who was into pickpocketing and had just finished his jail term. When I asked him, he revealed that he just enjoyed doing it,” said Bhatt.
Densely populated Bhindi Bazaar, situated in south Mumbai, is popular for its antiques and hardware items and attracts hundreds who visit the area in search of unique items.
The film is slated to release in February and marks the comeback of actress Deepti Naval in a pivotal role. It also stars Kay Kay Menon, Pawan Malhotra and Shilpa Shukla.
The director apparently shot the movie in 35 days, of which 22 days were spent in the Bhindi Bazaar. The rest of the movie was filmed in Colaba, Malabar Hill and Worli.
“When the backdrop of the film was decided, we were looking for an environment where our characters could reside and that’s when Bhindi Bazaar came to our mind.
“This place has a history of over 150 years. When you enter the place, you notice it is very peaceful and has some beautiful architecture that would provide a very nice backdrop. So we decided to shoot here,” he said.
There have been many films that have earlier explored the murky underbelly of Mumbai. Milind Luthria’s “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai”, Ram Gopal Varma’s “Satya”, “Company”, “D-Company” and “Sarkar” and Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Ishqiya” were all modern-day interpretations of the Indian mafia, shot in the bylanes of Mumbai. Sudhir Mishra’s forthcoming film “Tera Kya Hoga Johnny” also has a similar backdrop.
And if Bhatt is to be believed, such small areas in Mumbai have a local don who has to be informed about the shooting.
“Shooting for ‘Bhindi Bazaar’ was a little difficult as we were filming in the heart of the market and we had to clear out 300-400 people every day. Moreover, this place has a local don whom we had to inform about the shooting. We even gave little parts to some of the people from their gang in our film,” he said.
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)