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Director Aditya Kripalani talks about prostitution, the actors he wants to work with and a lot more

Aditya Kripalani is known for his books like ‘Back Seat’, ‘Front Seat’ and ‘Tikli and Laxmi Bomb’. He has been a script consultant for films like ‘Tahaan’, ‘Straight’, ‘Kusar Prasad Ka Bhoot’ and ‘Fired’, and has also assisted in films like ‘Gumnaam’ (2008) and Marathi movie ‘Prabhat’. And now, he is all set to make his directorial debut with film ‘Tikli and Laxmi Bomb’ which is based on the book written by him.

Recently, we interacted with Aditya and he spoke to us briefly about his upcoming flick.

You are making a film on your own book ‘Tikli and Laxmi Bomb’. So, when was the first time this idea came to your mind that you want to convert this book into a film?
I think before I even wrote the book. Normally, I have never written books with that intent. I was quite clear that I would want to or at least consider making a film on it, simply because the reach of a film much more than that of a book. So, if you have a subject that you want to put out a message about, for example ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Mirch Masala’ or ‘Mother India’, then it just works better as films. Even if you have 300 screens you reach out to about 50 thousand more people than a best-selling book.

So, tell us something about your film, what is it all about?
It’s a revolution story about these two sex workers, one is in her 40s, one is in her 20s. They decide to form a cooperative to protect the interest of sex workers by running a part of the sex industry themselves and kicking men out. That’s basically the premise of the story. But, it is also very importantly something which we have never put out in public space before. The idea that if women were to run the world. We have this feminism moment now, there’s whole question of women are gaining more and more power, but they still don’t run the world. So, if women were to run the world how they would run it differently, and that we get to see in this film.

Is this film based on some real-life story?
No, this is totally fiction.

Why did you opt to make your directorial debut with such an intense topic?
I had never thought of becoming a director. This is happening because I wanted to tell this story. I wanted to make a film because it would have a lot more reach, and as started grabbing the medium of film, I fell in love with it. I am from FTII, it’s not like I haven’t been exposed to it intensely before. So, I didn’t basically choose to become a director, it just happened by default. It’s very difficult to find a director who will see your story the way you seeing it.

Apart from Suchitra Pillai, your film doesn’t have very well-known faces. So, why didn’t you opt to cast someone who is famous?
Because I wanted to be more honest to the casting, Swara Bhaskar was supposed to play Tikli till two days before the shoot. But then, in general one believed that having a Bengali person play a Bengali character is much better because it’s just that you end up playing too stereotypes when you are not a part of a particular region. Like Ranveer Singh in ‘Bajirao Mastani’, even though he did a good job, out of Maharashtra, if you ask in Maharashtra how he played the part they are not going to be too impressed. I just wanted it to be so true that even someone from inside Maharashtra believe that Laxmi is Maharashtrian, and same thing if a Bengali person sees Tikli they feel that she is authentic because she is actually Bengali, and she won’t overdo the stereotypes.

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Prostitution in India is not legal, so what’s your take on that?
My take is that should be definitely legalised. So, they have the same re-cost of justice as we do. They can go to a police station and complain about someone, right now they cannot. Because technically prostitution is legal but practically it is not.

So, have you made this film festivals or it will be getting a proper theatrical release?
I definitely hope it will get a theatrical release because I think telling of a story makes it commercial or not which means the pace of the story. You can tell a story like ‘Taare Zameen Par’ in a very slow way or you can tell it the way it was told which is very fast pace. There’s no 10 minutes in the film where something dramatic is not happening, and that’s make it commercial or non-commercial. This is my limited understanding of cinema. And we have made this film in a fairly dramatic telling, so there’s something dramatic happening in every 10 minutes. So, I believe this can do well commercially also and we are looking at the theatrical release by the end of this year.

As you said that direction was not planned, so are you planning to continue it?
Yes, I am planning to continue. The next film will be based on my book ‘Front Seat’ and then there’s ‘Back Seat’ and ‘Driver’s Seat’ after that.

So, will you be only sticking to such intense movies or you are also planning to direct a candy-floss kind of a film?
No, pretty much my own books.

As a director, which actor or actress you want to direct?
My dream actor is Aamir Khan. With actresses, I think Vidya Balan is an actress one would love to work with, then there’s Konkona Sensharma I would love to work with. There are many actresses, even Deepika Padukone. There are times when she has given great performances. Naseeruddin Shah is someone I would love to work with. It depends on who is ready to work in these stories. I am making the films I want to make and if people are ready to come and work, I will be humble enough to do the job.

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