Shanghai film team in JNU Campus—Kalki Koechlin, Abhay Deol, Dibakar Banerjee: Photos and firsthand Report
It was in papers that Shanghai film team will be in the JNU Campus in the night of 3 June 2012. No posters were put up in the campus: it spread through word of mouth.
This is a quick report with pics of the event: it is my own analysis and photos. I returned from there at 11.20 pm while it was still on. Ignore grammatical errors, if any (as I have no time to write much or reread/edit it).
ARRIVAL: A good crowed had gathered at the Teflas (venue) despite the summer holidays. The actor and director arrived by 10 pm. Emraan was conspicuous by absence. People were very excited as they tore through the crowd (with their security men); loud music welcomed their arrival. Cheers all around, as they are on the stage (no raised stadium, just simple chairs, dim light which is common in JNU). Their security staff (moderately muscled men) look worried, the team shake hands enthusiastically in the crowd. Support staff has a woman (aged 30-34? ,slim and fair) who has a tattoo on her left chest (which looked awkward!). A Delhi University PhD Cinema scholar started the discussion (and people almost booed him because he was boring). Fortunately, he didn’t get the mic again as long as I was there.
LOOKS: Dibakar wore shorts (the longer ones, kind of bermuda shorts) and tshirt; Kalki cream colour trouser and and a top; Abhay Deol in Jeans (fading front) and brown jacket. Kalki looked energetic,young, fresh, super slim, stylish. Abhay looked the usual: as in his films (a bit tired though). Dibakar looked as someone who did not bother about looks or health (no wonder he looks like a man ageing faster for his age).
TALKS: Dibakar starts, gives background of how the idea for Shanghai originated as he observed the life around his ‘Dosti Flamingo building’ in Mumbai (public is a bit bored as he digs deep). He makes it clear that it is a no PR event as he wanted to talk to people in campuses like JNU.
Kalki said she would speak in answers and wants audience to ask her questions. Nobody volunteers to ask as it had just started and people were not ready (and she looks visibly disappointed but handles it maturely) and asks audience to think about it more while she is there. Abhay gets the mic and gets a big cheer from the crowd (Kalki is jealous, even remarked that Abhay has a lot of male fans to which Abhay went on to show and point out female fans in the crowd!). Abhay is asked more than once why he is not into unearthing ‘chapakal’ (an obvious reference to cousin Sunny Deol) or into Dabangg type films. Abhay says he does not want to insult ‘audience intelligence’ and likes doing what he does. Kalki was filled with pride when it was mentioned that her ancestor (Maurice Koechlin) designed the Eiffel tower.
As long as I was there (until 11.18 pm), Dibakar was the one who was asked most of the questions and had the mic for the longest time. He was also put some silly/discomforting questions by members of audience which he handled well (such as explaining that praise of local parties like Shiv Sena or MaNSe for local immediate help like finding autos in emergency does not amount to their wholesale approval or that showing Indian reality in films does not mean he is not proud of India). Some really silly/irritating questions were asked by some but thankfully it never went out of control: the overall mood was positive and cheerful. Abhay Deol said that it was the best crowed of his career (meaning most managed and decent). Dibakar surprised everyone when he said that he did not believe that films really change the society!
Kalki’s Hindi generated a lot of laughter; she also spoke a bit of Tamil and French. She was visibly excited, looked innocent, wanted audience to ask questions and handled questions confidently. In my opinion, she was the child in the Shanghai team that visited the JNU campus, Abhay was the teenager/adolescent while Dibakar was the adult (judging from their responses). Dibakar liked handling arguments and took pain to explain his view point very cogently (Taking pride in country is good but please do not forget that in the same country non-commercial filmmakers/writers, unlike him, who portray the real bleeding India have their films/books banned, he said). Some members of audience asked simply silly questions (JNU is also a lot of hype) and it would have been better without them.
Dibakar ate most of the time: paranthas/rajma chawal from Mamu Dhaba (an overrated; Mamu dhaba also makes a fool of us on many occasions, me and my friends will tell you).
Abhay loved it when someone from the audience shouted ‘Oyyyyyye Luckyyyyyy’ which was followed by common laughter.
I would say Dibakar was here to talk and debate (and eat); Abhay was here to know and see (he confessed he didn’t know much of politics and keeps learning) while innocent Kalki was here without any agenda (and looked like she was enjoying the moment)! That is my estimation. Overall, I liked it. They were people with genuine intention who had come to talk and did it without pretence or affectation.
Earlier Manoj Vajpayee, Irrfan (Khan), Nandita Das and other hatke actors have come to campus.
Here are some poor photos of the event from my Samsung Galaxy Y.