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Shirsha Guha Thakurta: Packaged well, but not one character has stayed with me

Updated on: 24 April,2024 05:55 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu |

Debutant director Shirsha blames spate of unmemorable Hindi rom-coms for the genre’s decline in recent times, as she offers the sparkling Do Aur Do Pyaar

Shirsha Guha Thakurta: Packaged well, but not one character has stayed with me

A still from Do Aur Do Pyaar

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Shirsha Guha Thakurta: Packaged well, but not one character has stayed with me

In an industry obsessed with box-office numbers, do we talk enough about the truly good films? Do Aur Do Pyaar opened to great reviews last week, but made only R2.5 crores in its first four days. What is going through the mind of debutant director Shirsha Guha Thakurta, whose work is winning love and yet failing to make big numbers? “Critics have been incredibly kind. I must admit I am thrilled. While box-office collections matter to me, there’s nothing much I can do about it. I wanted to tell this story to the best of my abilities. I’m hoping because of the positive word of mouth, more people will discover the film,” she says optimistically.

Starring Vidya Balan, Pratik Gandhi, Ileana D’Cruz and Sendhil Ramamurthy, Do Aur Do Pyaar is the kind of romantic comedy we don’t see often—that of a married couple rediscovering their love for each other. In fact, of late, Hindi cinema hasn’t seen too many rom-coms. Was she worried about attempting the genre when everyone’s saying romance is dead in the movies? “I don’t think any genre is dead in the movies. If we tell good stories with conviction and have characters we care about, any genre will work. After Shaitaan did well, suddenly everyone wants to make horror films. Romance has been a staple in Hindi films, but I can’t remember the last romantic film I truly cared for. They come better packaged with hit songs, but not a single character or line has stayed with me.”

Shirsha Guha ThakurtaShirsha Guha Thakurta

Thakurta, who previously directed wonderful ads for a dating app, thrives in the genre. But she admits that the Yash Chopra era of Hindi film romance is forgotten. “One of our key hooks for the film was: What would happen to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’s Raj and Simran 20 years later? Has life squeezed all the bits of love and domesticated them?”

The director adds, “In our modern lives that include social media and instant gratification, we are struggling to hold on to the Yash Chopra’s version of epic love. That’s what our film is partly about—that maybe love today is about being friends and being comfortable with each other.”

Do Aur Do Pyaar

One of the film’s biggest wins is that while telling a story that involves infidelity, it isn’t judgmental and doesn’t resort to the other woman/man tropes. The director says that is because they viewed it as a love story over everything else. “From the beginning, we were clear that we did not want to tell a story about adultery. It was always a love story in our heads. All the characters are genuinely in love at the moment. No one was playing the other; the heartbreak, the laughs, the tears were all real. 

This allowed us to look at them through a more generous, non-judgmental lens. There were no villains, only ordinary people grappling with a messy situation.”
Thakurta agrees that having brilliant actors like Balan and Gandhi to essay the long-married couple, who have lost their zeal and love somewhere along the way, made things easier. “I am thankful I got to work on my first film with actors like them. Vidya is Kavya, or maybe she’s just such a good actor that she makes you feel that way. Pratik and I worked on Ani together to get the character’s awkward, earnest tone. Pratik’s range is incredible. My work was simple—just put them in a room and watch the magic.”

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