Interview Hindi

Dibakar Banerjee is methodical, spends a lot of time in planning: Naveen Kasturia

As the filmmaker celebrates his 49th birthday today (21 June), actor Kasturia talks to us about working with him as an assistant on two films and reveals how Banerjee's strength lies in his multi-talented personality. 

Suparna Thombare

While the family comedy, Khosla Ka Ghosla! (2006) will always be remembered as one of the early independent films to have received a lot of appreciation from the multiplex audience, director Dibakar Banerjee’s follow up, the A-rated LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010), shocked everyone. He then went on to make other critically acclaimed films like Shanghai (2012) and a short film for the anthology, Bombay Talkies (2013) and an interesting version of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015). 

Naveen Kasturia, who starred in the acclaimed film Sulemani Keeda (2014) and came into the limelight with an important role in the successful TVF web series, Pitchers, started his career as an assistant director. Early on in his career, Banerjee was a huge influence and his directorial debut, Khosla Ka Ghosla! (2006) was one of the key reasons, Kasturia ventured into films. 

Naveen Kasturia

“I came to Mumbai to become a director and Dibakar (Banerjee) was one of the reasons. Khosla Ka Ghosla! was the film that made me believe that I can also make films. LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010) was my second film as assistant [director]. I remember trying really hard to get into his film,” says Kasturia. 

Banerjee is known for creating a compelling world where his characters, whether positive or negative, are depicted without judgement on the part of the filmmaker, and while doing so also offering an underlying social commentary — from Khosla Ka Ghosla! (2006) and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008) to Shanghai (2012) to Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015). 

Kasturia speaks about learning a lot from Banerjee’s pre-production process that enabled the director to be well-prepared before diving into the setting and characters he was going to create during shoot and post-production. 

He says, “When I worked with him I realised he has a process and there’s a way he makes a film. I had seen his film and read a couple of books on filmmaking, but when I got a chance to work with him so closely, it was something else. How prepared he is and how much planning he does... how methodical he is. If you want to make a good film, you have to do that. Preparation and pre-production is the most important part I believe.”

A still from LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010)

Dibakar devotes a lot of time to preparation and planning, and Kasturia feels that it shows in the film, when his characters seem to completely belong to the milieu. 

“Most of the people, the ones making web content, are always short of time. We often go on floors without preparing much and then we suffer during shoot and post-production. Dibakar was the kind of director who did everything before going on set. I’m not saying that he was not open to improvisation. He would let actors improvise. I learnt this through him,” says Kasturia.  

“His temperament, his patience and how he deals with actors [are his strengths],” he adds.

Kasturia, in fact, made his acting debut with a small role in Banerjee’s Shanghai (2012), before making a mark in Sulemani Keeda. “Not a lot of people know but my acting debut happened with Shanghai. He asked me to do a small part in the film and I did,” says Kasturia.

A still from Shanghai (2012)

The Hope Aur Hum (2018) actor says that he learnt a lot about filmmaking just by observing Banerjee on the sets. “I was in awe of him. I remember after we finished LSD, someone told me that Dibakar pointed out once 'why is he (Kasturia) always looking at him'. Subconsciously, I would end up staring at him. After it was pointed out I got very embarrassed. I think I was just always observing him,” he says.   

The actor also let us in on Banerjee's multi-faceted personality. In fact, the director often dubs for minor characters too.  

“He is extremely talented. When he does story boarding, he sketches, he has great knowledge about music and he also writes. He has even written songs for his own films like, including 'Tu Gandi Acchi Lagti Hai'. If you watch Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, most of the random voices are him... so he has dubbed for so many characters in the film.”

Banerjee is currently busy making his Arjun Kapoor-Parineeti Chopra-starrer Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. His recently released short film in the anthology, Lust Stories, on Netflix has been well-received.