By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 17 (IANS) Indian filmmaker Ritesh Batra of “The Lunchbox” fame, who looks at every film that he makes as an ‘Indian movie,’ believes his first very ‘English’ film with very ‘English’ characters has a universal appeal.
“The goal is to make a film that appeals to everyone globally,” says the director of “The Sense of An Ending” that won three major awards including Jury Prize for Best Film at the Mostly British Film Festival in San Francisco recently.
“I believe films can have their local flavours intact and still be internationally comprehended,” Batra who won the Best Director award told IANS in an interview.
The film is based on Julian Barnes’ Man Booker-winning novel about an elderly man who leads a reclusive and quiet existence until long buried secrets from his past force him to face the devastating consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago.
Adapted for the screen by award-winning playwright Nick Payne and produced by David Thompson and Ed Rubin (“Woman in Gold”), it opened across the US Friday.
“The hardest thing about adapting it was that the book is basically one man’s interior monologue, with an audience,” Batra said.
“A movie and a novel have to be cousins, they can’t be siblings,” he said when asked if he ever felt that he was bringing someone else’s world to life.
“It’s always difficult to walk the line as to how different or how similar it should be. It has to be different otherwise it’s not an adaptation. It’s a very delicate balance.”
But in terms of preparation and process ‘Ending’ was not much different from “The Lunchbox” for Batra.
“‘The Lunchbox’ was a very small movie, very difficult, sewn together. Because it was so low budget, we spent a lot more time with the actors in advance,” he said.
“Otherwise, it is the same everywhere by just delving into the world of the story that is always new and interesting and challenging, but the process of making movies is the same everywhere.
On working with living legends like Jim Broadbent (“Iris”, “Gangs of New York”, “Moulin Rouge”) and Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”, “Melancholia”), Batra said: “They like to explore and that’s how I like to work, too.”
” I like to keep searching for the deeper meaning of the same.”
“Irrfan Khan and Charlotte are so similar,” he said comparing the two legendary actors. “Charlotte is really a dream to work with. She’s always searching for the truth.”
“It was incredible to work with Jim,” Batra said. “He makes this part really work because he is not a standard issue curmudgeon and he is someone who will play this with a simplicity and a depth and feeling.”
Recently named by Variety as one of 10 Directors to Watch, Batra has just shot his new film “Our Souls at Night” with Hollywood sars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda for Netflix and is in the process of editing it.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)