Success not box office feat, but freedom to tell stories my way: Srijit Mukherji

Filmmaker talks about his next OTT release ‘Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke’ and why he is proud of ‘Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga’, says every film has its audience, which may not necessarily be found in theatres

January 18 dmanewsdesk: For filmmaker Srijit Mukherji, success is not defined by a movie’s box office performance but the freedom to tell stories on his own terms.

The National Award-winning director is known for Bengali hits such as AutographJaatishwarChotushkone, and Gumnaami. Among Hindi films, he has directed the Vidya Balan-starrer Begum Jaan, the Taapsee Pannu-led Shabaash Mithu, and Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga starring Pankaj Tripathi.

“Proud of Sherdil

Despite a lukewarm response at the box office, both Shabaash Mithu and Sherdil were well-received upon their OTT release.

“It (the OTT success) shows that every film has its own audience, which may not necessarily be found in theatres. For me, the definition of success is the freedom to tell stories on your own terms. As long as I get to do that, I think I am successful,” Mukherji told PTI in a virtual interview.

The 45-year-old filmmaker said he is proud of Sherdil, as it reflects the cinema he stands for. “I think Sherdil is a film which I am very proud of. The cinema that I stand for, or the cinema that I make and present, I think Sherdil is the prime example of that. Shabaash Mithu also had its moments. But Sherdil is a film I am proud of,” said Mukherji.

Through the eyes of a woman

Mukherji is currently gearing up for the release of his next series, ZEE5’s Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, headlined by actor Regina Cassandra. The edge-of-the-seat thriller centres on Kavya, a woman IPS officer.

The director said with the show, the team is trying to present a story through the eyes of a woman, which is a rarity in the male-dominated cop drama space. “This was a conscious effort, as we often see web shows that deal with male cops, but in reality, there are a lot of brave, efficient, and dedicated female officers as well.”

Mukherji said he wanted to have a woman officer at the centre of the story without underlining that fact. “The moment you try to underline that a woman is doing all these things, you are doing her a great disservice because then it becomes self-defeating. So, there is no separate underlining of the fact that a woman is at the centre of such acts of bravery because the moment you underline it, the implicit assumption is they are not supposed to, which I don’t think is correct.”

Stories on patriotism

Mukherji’s brief to Cassandra was to retain her accent, as the show’s story travels through various parts of the country. “I wanted a very diverse-sounding series, where people spoke their natural accent, and that is what she did. I also focused and emphasised on physical fitness. So, she worked out regularly and did all her stunts with safety precautions,” he said.

As a filmmaker, Mukherji said he feels inspired to chronicle stories about nationalism and patriotism. “I feel inspired to tell stories about themes like nationalism and patriotism. It gives me an adrenaline rush. Since the audio-visual medium is powerful, be it cinema or OTT, it also sends out messages to audiences and people of the country. Everyone has their own definition of nationalism and jingoism; I have mine. I can’t pinpoint where and how I draw a line (on how much to show),” he added.

Also featuring Barun Sobti, Mita Vashisht, and Sumit Vyas, Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke premieres on ZEE5 in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu languages on January 26.

Source: The Federal