After impressing the discerning audience with his intense and powerful films like Meal, Laali, Gudgudi and Gudiya, filmmaker and screenwriter Abhiroop Basu is all set with his next film Lipstick which has Adil Hussain in mind.
Lipstick is a film about the LGBTQIA community that also features many real members of the community in the film, including one of the protagonists. Basu also finished filming Rhino Charge with another talented actress Geetanjali Kulkarni some time ago. In this interview, he shares with us the first look of Lipstick as well as a truth on the subject.
Tell us a bit about lipstick. Is it also a short film or a feature film?
It’s a short story of 25 minutes but there is an idea that came up during the filming to explore more this character and also the world of Lipstick with him. So, let’s see, this could become a feature film.
What is the film about ?
The film is about Asif, a hidden gay Muslim factory worker who goes through a journey of self-discovery when he lands that odd job at a B-Movie theater, set in a turbulent post-pandemic world. He was brilliantly played by Adil Hussain.
Like most of my stories, Lipstick is also a page of real life. Last year, I spotted a light keeper working on the Laali sets somewhere near Chetla, late at night when I was returning from a family reunion. He was unrecognizable, dressed in a cheap sari. I only had a fleeting glimpse but the face looked very familiar to me. I tried to contact him via the production manager who worked with me at Laali but he was reluctant to talk about him. It took me a month to find him. The lipstick is inspired by the interactions I had with him, the process of self-discovery he went through, and the tragedies that accompanied his journey to becoming a woman.
Once again you cast with Adil…
Absolutely. I wrote the story with him in mind and he immediately accepted. It’s the fastest screenplay I’ve ever written – in four hours – and immediately emailed Adil. The next night he called to say yes to the movie.
The film also stars Rajesh Sharma, Sudeep Dhara (from the renowned web series Mandar) and Mohinder Gujral.
Also tell us about Rhino Charge.
The film is essentially the story of a Muslim woman in a man’s world told in the form of a gripping, often bizarre, tongue-in-cheek dark comedy.
It’s about Razia, a housekeeper-turned-caregiver who finds herself in a precarious situation when she first attempts to give a wheelchair-bound Indian Army veteran a bath in the middle of a a personal tragedy – set in Kolkata against the backdrop of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Rhino Charge is like jhaal muri – it’s a mix of several unrelated things that come together, but when it does, it leaves a distinct aftertaste!
How did it go with Geetanjali Kulkarni?
Delicious! She and Vinod Nagpal who were also an integral part of the film. Just like Shantilaal Mukherjee. But I wrote this especially for Geetanjali after seeing her in court and then in War-Room. She brings so much grace and honesty to her performances.
Tell us how the scene is now for independent filmmakers.
It’s harder than in a pre-Covid world if you’re trying to make a Hindi-language movie since big movies have failed miserably this year. Unless the bigger movies are making money, people generally avoid taking risks with smaller indie projects. So, they push for formulas that also fail because they contain nothing new. So it’s a strange situation and no one is willing to take a risk and try something new unless it’s a Hindi remake of a South Indian movie.
Have OTT platforms improved the chances of your ilk?
Yes, for the very first time, a short film like Laali has been trending on Disney+Hotstar for a month. It’s important to find an audience for your film, even if it’s a niche film and Laali surely did that, I can feel it.
Are you considering feature films or web series?
Both are happening next year and things are already in their development stage.
I have three films that are ready to enter festivals next year. There’s Gudgudi with Rajshri Deshpande, Rhino Charge with Geetanjali Kulkarni and now, Lipstick with Adil Hussain. I’m also shooting something in Rajasthan during the winter this year which will be my last short film for quite a while.