Taking a cue from Sriram’s style of storytelling, Monica O My Darling director Vasan says sharp crime thrillers are all about throwing curveballs at audience
A still from the film
What’s the secret to a deliciously crafted thriller? Vasan Bala hopes to have the answer with Monica O My Darling, starring Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi and Radhika Apte. For the noir thriller, the director has been inspired by filmmaker Sriram Raghavan, whom he considers the genre’s pioneer in the Hindi film industry. “With thrillers, I don’t take the pressure of making it a whodunit. I think all the masters have followed the [rule]. Be it Sriram Raghavan or any other director, they never take the pressure of hiding a lot from the audience. In fact, they give away a lot and hide a few [elements], which works as a surprise for viewers,” says the director.
Raghavan and Vasan Bala
The Netflix film follows Rao’s character Jayant, who has been double-crossed by his ladylove, essayed by Qureshi. For Bala, the film’s biggest win is its casting. With dependable actors on board, the director says he only concentrated on the technical aspects of filmmaking. “There wasn’t too much of direction [required],” he says candidly. “I could concentrate on other aspects of filmmaking. I had the privilege of leaving a lot to the actors and just going with the flow, thanks to the calibre of the people involved. It’s a pleasure to work with actors who are technically trained. They are not only involved as actors, but also as technicians. They gave due respect to the entire technical team. A lot of actors don’t do that.”
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018) showed us how Bala likes to add quirky elements to his storytelling. This time around, he knew that he wanted a retro album to lend the required mood to the crime thriller. The director turned to composer Achint Thakkar for the task. “It was great to go back to [the music of] Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Shankar-Jaikishan and Usha Uthup. We blended [their musical sensibilities] to create music that is authentic and not spoofy. We also roped in singers who perform at Asha Bhosle Nights, or Kishore Kumar Nights. They have not broken into professional playback singing, but are on the periphery, thanks to their ability to [mimic the singers of the bygone era].”