I Knew Sonchiriya Wasn’t Going to Rule Box-Office, It Was a Niche Film, Says Abhishek Chaubey
Sonchiriya was a dacoit action film featuring Bhumi Pednekar, Sushant Singh Rajput and Manoj Bajpayee. It released earlier this year.
Abhishek Chaubey. (Image: Twitter)
Udta Punjab director Abhishek Chaubey claims he never had any illusions about the fact that his last release Sonchiriya was too niche a film to get good numbers at the box office.
"I had no illusion about the box-office (collections) of the film. I knew it is not going to rule the box-office because it was a niche film. I wanted to tell a story I thought (was) worth telling. Of course, I did not think of the film to make so less money that it would affect the producers, but from the beginning we knew we were making a niche film," the writer-director told IANS.
However, he mentions the footfall of the first day at the theatre was important for the film to grow by the word-of-mouth, and good marketing could have helped the film achieve it.
Sonchiriya was a dacoit action film featuring Bhumi Pednekar, Sushant Singh Rajput and Manoj Bajpayee among others, and its dialogues were in the Chambal dialect. Admitting that he faced criticism for the language, which few people understood, he explained, "It was a conscious decision to make the film using that dialect. We live in a country where people speak in so many dialects and as Indians we should be aware of that. I think we, as Indians are quite ignorant about our diverse culture. I do not like that. We should pull up our socks and broaden our horizons as far as our culture goes. Indian is not just about Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. We have more."
While Abhishek takes criticism in his stride, he knows that balancing art and commerce is important. "I want to remain an artist and a storyteller, but then I do not want to be an obscure filmmaker living in a bubble," he said, while speaking on the sidelines of the Mountain Echoes Festival 2019 in Thimphu, Bhutan.
On his process of translating thoughts from words to screen, Abhishek said, "A film is a combination of thousands of images and when I am writing a script, I keep a visual in mind, though I am not writing each of them on paper. My process is that if an image is important to the narrative, I write that in detail."
"I am not one of those filmmakers who would like to play around with the mystic of filmmaking, rather I prefer to lay out my thoughts on the table before the actors, technicians and everyone, so that we all can get involved in the process," said the filmmaker, who has scripted films such as The Blue Umbrella, Omkara and Kaminey, before making his directorial debut with Ishqiya in 2010.
Whether it is the drug addict musician Tommy Singh in Udta Punjab or Indumati in Sonchiriya, Abhishek has always created a distinctive look for his characters. Talking about it, he said, "Creating the look of a character is a collaborative thing. I do not write it in my script. The appearance of any character not only shows how he or she lives in the present but it is a reflection of their past too. So the look, body language, haircut, a mark on the face, puffy eyes—everything depends on not only their present lifestyle but also the past."
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