Shoojit Sircar’s upcoming film October, which stars Varun Dhawan, is a story of ‘unconditional love’ and the director maintains that it is inspired by an intensely personal story in this interview with indianexpress.com.
Q. There is a certain curiosity that you have built with the trailer of October. The look and feel have a lot of representations from everyday life. The music is also quite delicate.
My trailer has everything in it. It is like a poetry of two people’s life. The trailer has to create curiosity in people whether they want to watch the film or not. I am happy that people are discussing the trailer and songs. Even if they understand or don’t understand the trailer, that’s absolutely fine with me, till it garners some curiosity. My films always have a background score, and yes there are promotional songs. Someone told me how it is the first time that the theme music was launched before any song. My films are based on themes, so I always go for theme tracks and background score. I am happy that the theme song has attracted so much attention, and you’ll see how the background score is so important in the film.
Q. You are also continuously talking about ‘unconditional love’.
The word ‘unconditional’ is used like a jargon nowadays, but what is that unconditional love? In October, I’ve tried to create a situation where we can really experience what it means. There are some very small but significant references in the film. Juhi Chaturvedi (the writer of October) and my writing process is such that we work on a thought and borrow elements from our life experiences to explain and elaborate that thought.
I am not an expert, but this is what Juhi and I felt had to be told. The idea was there with me from 2004. It is an intensely personal story. A few things happened in my life, which I can talk about once the film is released. Once you have experienced the film, we can talk about it. So, it stayed with me since then, and then we worked on it. There is no definition to love. It is a feeling. So, I say feel October, experience October.
Normally my films have a single thread of an emotion, an insight or one single belief, and then I turn the entire story and build it around that. So, Juhi has brought poetry of love in this film. It is very difficult to explain poetry. You have to understand the poetry and figure out your own take and your relatability. That’s what cinema does to you. It connects you to some incidents in your life, and that’s what this film has done to us. It will do that to you too, hopefully.
Q. Your films have a peculiar Shoojit Sircar flavour. What is that you strive to say through your films?
The strongest point that I try is to not compromise my characters’ integrity. We have always decided that every character is portrayed wholly, whether it is Piku, Bhashkor or The Dolly ji and Dadi ji combination in Vicky Donor. There are so many human things that we do every day and we are slowly forgetting them because of the fast-paced world. We can’t just sit for five minutes. So, in this time and age, we need something to remind ourselves. I am talking about myself too here. So, I try to show the reflection of the society in my films. I get inspired by real stories. My characters are inspired by real people. What I see, what bothers me, I put it out.
Q. What made you cast Varun Dhawan as Dan? He is known for his commercial films, a choice you don’t usually make.
This is his debut film (laughs)! Let me be very clear, I didn’t cast him because he was Varun Dhawan. We first write the script, it is the backbone and spine of my films. So, when Juhi wrote this, we didn’t have any talent in our mind. We were looking for fresh faces as we had an idea how our characters should be. Me and Varun, nowhere go together when it comes to the kind of cinema we have come across and done. I have not seen his films at all, so we didn’t cast him on that basis as well. We don’t go along at all. Casting him was unexpected. He wanted to meet me for a long time. One day, in November, he texted asking me if we could meet. I asked if he could come right away. He said he had just woken up and was dressed clumsily. I insisted that he come to my office the way he is. And he showed up in his ripped denims, a crumpled shirt and disheveled hair. He walked in and sat in front of me. I didn’t see Varun Dhawan. In my mind, I was only looking for my character. We were looking for a boy with integrity in his eyes. Suddenly there he was, in front of me, Dan. Varun eyes reflected honesty and innocence, just what I was looking for. Till now whatever I had heard about him or seen of him, he is not that at all. He is a different personality totally. What Varun actually is you’ll find in this film. You’ll see that. I have just explored what he is, that’s what I do. I have just tried to juice out what he is inside the core as a person.