With genre-defining documentaries Senna (2010) and Amy (2015), Asif Kapadia displayed how he challenges the viewers’ perception about the characters they claim to know everything about.
His new film Maradona, based on the life of legendary Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona, takes up the dare a notch higher as the story is still continued.
Kapadia says he didn’t know how he was going to finish the film. “What I did is that everytime I interviewed people for Maradona I asked them ‘when do you think it’s going to end,’ and they were like ‘good luck!’ Once a person gave me a very dark answer. He said ‘I wish the plane on which he was returning after the World Cup victory over England was crashed. That was the happiest moment.”
He continues, “It’s instinct because you never know if there’s a film. Be it Senna, Amy or Maradona, there is always a point where I start thinking it’s going to be a disaster, and I messed up. But then you need to keep looking for drama, events. It’s like you think you know everything but I am going to show you what you don’t know.”
Kapadia doesn’t consider him belonging to any one place. He cites his 2001 film The Warrior featuring Indian actor Irrfan Khan as example. He believes the film wasn’t about any specific community or place.
He says, “I am genuinely drawn to outsiders especially anti-establishment characters. The people who’re not particularly loved. Somebody without any definitive film on them. Somewhere along the way I am those people. Who are not from any actual place, somewhere in between. The Warrior wasn’t a typical British film but it wasn’t typically Indian either. Senna wasn’t a typical documentary. Amy wasn’t particularly loved when I made that film but later it changed perceptions.”
Does it have something to do with his growing up days? “When I was a student in England, I wasn’t obsessed with the British movies or the American movies. In London, there were friends from around the world with different stories. I wanted to speak to a bigger audience through my work. Amy is the only film I made in London otherwise it was mostly outside.”
He sounds really excited about chaffing out the final edit out of hours of footage. He says, “We hire really good people and nudge them for more. I ask them to keep going for more. I want to know everything about my character. I invite people to watch hours of footage and seek their reaction but I know there’s a film.”
He adds, “The research, the edit and the interviews, all happen at the same time. I did about 80 interviews for Maradona, on Amy I did 120 interviews. Sometimes I interview someone for ten hours and I have two lines in the film but while doing it I pick up moments that I want to show in the film. I am going to find that scene which will tell the audience about those moments.”
Maradona has released in India.