‘Departure from original’

Sinha directing Kalki. The film was shot in Mumbai.

With his new short film, The Job, having released on June 15, director Siddharth Sinha talks to Roshan H Nair from Metrolife about the difficulties of adapting Shakespeare, the cinematic climate of the times and on working with Kalki Koechlin.

Udedh Bun was a very rural work. The Job in stark contrast, is set in the city? Why the shift?

Films are a reflection of the times we live in. The Job talks about global relocations. We see how expatriates are coming to cities such as Bombay and Delhi and about newer lifestyles in this regard.

But you do not show the glamorous side of this world. You show its underbelly.

That’s right. Much of what you see is a facade. But there are fissures deep down. We see how many Americans live off their credit cards. There are pressures modernity imposes on us. One of the layers of my film talks about the pressure beneath the facade.

You are a minimalist. You don’t give too many details about the characters. With The Job, you push that even further. But doesn’t that hinder with what you are trying to convey?

We have seen so many adaptations of Shakespeare. I have taken the character of Lady Macbeth, with her guilt and the blood on her hands. My problem was that this was a story everybody knows. It’s like Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Macbeth is even taught in schools. What you need to do is stylise the narrative, as art forms such as Kathakali do with Mahabharatha and Ramayana. What you watch there is a departure from the epic itself. I have used a similar creative choice. I tried to tell a story differently from how Macbeth has been told all these centuries.

In the Job, there are a set of images in the film that you can’t entirely trust.

The film is designed in such a way that till one point you can tell that there’s something Kalki’s character is missing out on. After a point, her frame of mind is cast on the audience. Then viewers themselves are not sure whether what they see is truth or fantasy. First, the audience objectively sees what Kalki is seeing, later they share her confusion. 

You only use one person to tell the entire story. How is it that you chose Kalki for the character?

I have always thought Kalki is a fabulous actor. The character in the film is dark and edgy. Somewhere along the way I realised that she is the only person I could have cast in the role. Kalki can look very edgy, she looks the part, and I realised that her French ancestry also helps with the character.

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‘Departure from original’

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