Shubhashish: It’s nice in many ways. But when I go to festivals, I don’t watch the film because I get anxious when other people are watching the movie. I stay outside and talk about the movie to people later. Even in Mumbai, when we were leaving the theatre, people were still talking about the film. Even in the parking lot!
BOI: What kind of research went into writing the film?
Shubhashish: The first thing I did was, I took a tape recorder and started talking to everybody. Finally, I had a summary. We had this crazy document and there was this book someone has written from where I took a few things. The best research I did was talking to people and getting first-hand information rather than using information from the Internet. It’s about getting into people’s lives, what they eat, what they wear, everything from their daily life to what they are thinking.
BOI: How did you zero onto the location?
Sanjay: Actually, I really didn’t have to go there because Subhashish had done enough research, from pictures to videos. The first time I went to Varanasi was when we did a tech recce with the team, which was 10 to 15 days before we started shooting. And he surprised me by saying that we wouldn’t be shooting at the Mukti Bhawan we had chosen earlier.
I was shocked and when I asked him why he had changed the venue, he said, ‘I don’t like the place. Come here and I will show you why.’ The Mukti Bhawan he had chosen was beautiful and it was beside Gangaji, which was flowing there. So I have seen this film through his eyes and have learnt a lot on this journey with him.
BOI: As a father, is there any particular scene that is close to you?
Sanjay: There is a scene that I really liked but it is not in the film as he didn’t want it included. I think we should include it in the behind-the-scenes bit. It is a very funny scene, where Ali Hussain is going to a temple and he is singing a bhajan without really knowing how to do it. I also like the taxi scene, where the character is saying, ‘Arey arey, dheeme chalao dheeme chalao, Banaras pahuchne se phele mereko mukti mat dilao.’
BOI: The film deals with a serious subject like death but you have managed to approach it in a very light-hearted way and in a cinematic way. Was that difficult?
Shubhashish: No, I never found myself thinking, like, ‘Let’s make this funny or light-hearted.’ I went with the flow of the film and what I felt while making the film. I think the humour comes in spontaneously from the story. I made sure it was not forced. It is also fun because we can relate the fun elements to our lives. So I think it’s the comedy of daily life that comes through. So it wasn’t challenging because I was not trying to make a comedy film, I was making a film which was very human.
Sanjay: He always maintained that he was not making a film relating to death but one that related to life. The characters may not be laughing but the audience will connect with them and will laugh or smile during those moments. It is very real.
BOI: What’s next for both of you?
Sanjay: I have started working on a couple of projects.
Shubhashish: And I am unemployed, I mean I am going to sit at home and complete my story.