Filmmakers rooting for roots

Karan Johar
KJo’s films have the unmistakable stamp of Punjabi culture -- from the loud characters to the pomp and the bhangra numbers. Who can forget Mahi Ve from Kal Ho Na or Say shaava shaava from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

In K3G, Kajol’s character Anjali was this typical loud-mouthed Punjabi girl from Chandni Chowk. The actress had stated about how she took help from unit members to memorise the lines in Punjabi. It also had an emotional sequence where Jaya Bachchan explains to Kajol the significance of the karva chauth tradition of sargi. Also, the surnames in all KJo’s films are Malhotra, Raichand, Khanna, to name a few. Words like tusi, soniyo, beeji, ainvayi, etc are frequently used. No wonder KJo’s films are huge hits overseas where people look to reconnect with their roots.

Anand L Rai
Delhi-born director Anand L Rai too loves capturing his North Indian roots on celluloid. His first hit, Tanu Weds Manu was set in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. From the backdrop to the clothes and the dialect, the feel of a middle-class lifestyle in small town India captured in a subtle and authentic manner. The film was shot across Lucknow, Noida and Kapurthala in Punjab.

His next film, Raanjhanaa was also set in Benaras (Varanasi). The director captured the visual beauty of the holy city without filming the tourist hotspots. Composer AR Rehman created a musical score that was in sync with the folk-classical genre popular in Benaras. The religious sentiment of the city was also touched upon. He also went back to Delhi to shoot some portions at the JNU Campus, India Gate and Faridabad.

Anurag Kashyap
Anurag Kashyap was born and brought up in Uttar Pradesh. Some of his films have a huge influence of this region like the Gangs of Wasseypur series.

The design of the sets (the house) was inspired by his ancestral home where he lived with his parents and siblings. He also directed Dev D, which was set in Delhi. Brother Abhinav Kashyap wrote and directed Dabangg, which too was set in Uttar Pradesh.

Prakash Jha
Born in Bihar and raised in Jharkhand, Prakash Jha has based many of his films in Bihar.

From Damul (1984) which was set in rural Bihar and focused on oppression of the lower caste to Apaharan in 2005 that threw light on Bihar’s kidnapping industry, Jha has talked about most socio-economic issues plaguing the state. He also released a 43-minute documentary, ‘Sunehare Dastaan... Bihar ki Bhoomi Se’ which spoke about Bihar’s glorious history, heritage and culture.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has showcased Gujarati culture in its visual splendour. Whether it’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or his latest release -- the colourful ghagra cholis, raas garbas, kite flying competitions or folk songs have always found a place in SLB’s films.

The filmmaker also chose a Gujarati novel, Saraswatichandra for his small screen debut. Bhansali who has admitted that he loves everything Gujarati is known to seek inspiration from Gujarati art, folk music, festivals and literature for his films.

Mahesh Manjrekar
Producer-director-actor Mahesh Manjrekar’s Marathi influence in his films is evident. His critically acclaimed film Vaastav: The Reality (1999) had Sanjay Dutt playing a guy from a lower middle class Maharashtrian household who turns into a gangster. Astitiva (2000) was a bilingual film in Marathi and Hindi with a Maharashtrian backdrop as well. The Marathi version went on to win the National Award for Best Feature Film in Marathi. Pran Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye (2003) was about the trials and tribulations of chawl residents.

As an actor, the filmmaker has played the role of Shivaji Maharaj in the Marathi film Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy. It is learnt that he is keen to adapt it into a Hindi film. Reportedly, he is now in the process of remaking his Marathi hit film Shikashanajchi Aicha Gho in Hindi with Salman Khan in the lead.

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