'€˜Indians have a great sense of humour'

Filmmaker Vivek Budakoti on the irony of the Indian film industry having too much comedy but too little satire

His debut directorial venture Pied Piper is currently travelling the world. About to be screened at The Berlin International Directors Lounge this week, Vivek Budakoti’s endeavour is a satirical folklore of a laundryman who is rumoured to have acquired his donkey’s brains. Having earlier assisted filmmakers such as Sudhir Mishra and MF Husain, Vivek is seemingly upbeat about his first feature film. In a chat with us, he tells us what made him direct this particular film…

A still from movie Pied Piper

How different is your film from Peepli (Live)?
Pied Piper is a satire laced with black humour, inspired by the current political circus of our country. It's about a commoner becoming a game changer in politics armed with millions of blind followers. It highlights the absurdities of life and mockery that our leaders have made of our political system. The only similarity I can see is that both the movies were shot in Madhya Padesh and have a few common actors.

What inspired you to make it?
Since the time of Independence, the people of India have been searching for an ideal political leader who can lead the country towards a glorious future. We have had many political leaders and masters in the past whom we looked up to. Unfortunately disillusions were as quick to descend over our collective conscience. Then came the thought that if there was to be a leader from among us — the common man — would he/she really be the messiah we’re looking for? We realised that there were no right or wrong answers to these questions. It's a gamble with its own risks. A Pied Piper (like that of Hamlin in the folklore) can definitely chase away the rats but the risk is that he can also hijack our future and lead it into a blind cave. The film raises these pertinent questions with no ready solutions.

Director Vivek Budakoti

Do you think our film industry lacks satire thanks to its inclination toward commercial outlets?
Indians have a great sense of humour. We have the capability of laughing at ourselves even in the most trying times. Satire is very much a part of Indian ethos where anecdotes and phrases are always full of sarcasm. To be honest, even the dialogues in our commercial films have a lot of humour and that is why its quite surprising why not many satires have been made in recent times. I am sure there will be many once the financers/ producers develop a sense of humour too (laughs).

Why did you choose Rajpal Yadav to play the protagonist?
Besides the fact that Rajpal can personify a common man effortlessly, he is also one actor who transcends easily from a comic to a tragic expression in a single frame. He has the capacity to make you feel sympathetic towards him even in his comic antiques.

Who have been your cinematic influences?
Many, actually. I’ve always admired filmmakers such as Bimal Roy, Mukerjee Hrishida, Raj Kapoor, Mani Ratnam and Rajkumar Hirani. I have been heavily influenced by maestros like Milos Forman, Jirí Menzel, Emir Kusturica, Luis Bunuel, Yasujiro Ozu.

What next?
I’m developing a few scripts for my future films. One is a heart-warming love story of a sexagenarian couple whereas the other is an interesting script of an intense relationship between a madman and an assassin.

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