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Shekhar Kapur stands up for Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Padmavati

The Bandit Queen (1994) director said India as a society is in an absolute and desperate flux.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Blessy Chettiar

Acclaimed Bandit Queen (1994) director Shekhar Kapur conducted a masterclass at the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Panaji, Goa. He was accompanied by his Paani actor Sushant Singh Rajput who set the tone for the conversation, which was held at the Kala Academy. Kapur spoke on ‘disruptive filmmaking’ to an auditorium full of film enthusiasts.

Touching on the topic of censorship, Kapur defended filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who is currently caught in a storm ahead of the release of his historical drama, Padmavati.

“It’s a constant flux. I know the filmmaker, I know the film and you know the film," Kapur said. "The intention of the filmmaker was not to create controversy. He is a great filmmaker, but he has never been a political filmmaker. He wanted to make a great film, he wanted big critics to appreciate it."

Kapur later added that censorship is a point of view.

“There are fracture lines in our society that are very obvious because India as a society is in an absolute and desperate flux. All the fracture lines that were drawn once are all breaking. And in the breaking of those lines, there are fractures. And so the politics is around the film, not in the film,” he said.

In the context of historical dramas, Kapur spoke of his English film Elizabeth (1998), starring Cate Blanchette. “Elizabeth is a representation, a metaphor of history," he said. "Let me destroy history for you. It is your representation of what is history. In India, till the British came, we believed in mythology, not history. The sense of history on India is a moral tale.”

At an earlier session, Kapur had mentioned about making a deal with Yash Raj Films for his directorial Paani starring Rajput. “Paani is very complex. I am a good salesperson. I can sell anything so Adi [YRF boss Aditya Chopra] got caught. I worked for 15 years on it. For me Paani was a passion project. Yes, it was draining. It has to be because it is art. Life is nothing without passion.”

He also spoke about a script he is working on for a film with Kangana Ranaut where the actress would play an 85-year-old woman.

Related topics

IFFI Censorship