Shakeela’s face sold many films, says Indrajit

Indrajit Lankesh

The shooting of the biopic of actor Shakeela, directed by Indrajit Lankesh, is on at a brisk pace. The cast and the crew of the film say they are thrilled to work on a project that involves real stories and true incidents.

 Indrajit says the biggest challenge before him is to tell the story of a woman who is still living but admits his task has been made easier because of the seasoned actors. In an interview with Nina C George, Indrajit talks about the making of the movie.  

How challenging is it for you to tell the story of Shakeela? 

My task has been made easier by some amazing acting by Pankaj Tripathi and Richa Chadda. Pankaj is a great actor and I couldn’t imagine anybody else who could play the role of Shakeela, other than Richa.

It is a very difficult and complex story to tell. I feel that I have done justice to it because this is such a male-dominated industry and a lot of men can’t stand a woman becoming a superstar. But Shakeela stood her ground and faced a lot of brickbats. And we are telling the story when Shakeela is still around. That’s the best part. 

How did you manage to project the truth, amidst so much of rumours about Shakeela? 

We are trying to keep it as real as possible. It was made easier because we are talking about a woman who is living her life. She came on camera when I was doing research and gave us a first-person account of her life. What better way of getting facts right? She didn’t have any filters and narrated things (good, bad and ugly) as they were. That made it easier for us to write the story. Biopics are not to be glorified, but to be told as they are. 

Did some of the revelations shock you?

Yes. I am sure that the audience too will be shocked to know a lot of things that she went through.  She did about 180 films a year and her face sold the film. Even a small-budget film of Rs 10 lakh raked in good moolah. We know what she went through in films, but nobody knows what she went through in real life.

How is Richa playing Shakeela?

Shakeela is big built. As far as Richa is concerned, we didn’t want to go through the physical transformation but concentrate on the emotional aspect. The idea was to get involved in the story.

On roping on actors Pankaj and Rajeev Pillai...

Pankaj is an amazing actor. There were moments during the shoot when I forgot to say ‘cut’ because I wanted to watch Pankaj over and over again on the monitor and on the screen. 

Pankaj says that this is, in fact, his dream role. Rajeev, on the other hand, knows the language and culture. He is a good human being, apart from being a good actor.

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Shakeela’s face sold many films, says Indrajit

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