The Hungry was one of the revelations in the world of Indian independent cinema; the avant-garde adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ saw success in all spheres, among the common viewership and critics.
Independent cinema has taken the world by storm over the last few years and Indian cinema has not been altogether untouched by the revolution. Based on Titus Andronicus, the film pivots around how the new replaces the old and how death becomes an equaliser for the sexes. The majority of us Indians still have our apprehensions about the genre “Shakespeare”. There are different interpretations when the name is uttered in the context of cinema.
The veteran actor, Jayant Kripalani, played a very crucial and effective, albeit short role in the film as the corrupt politician, Poddar. It’s an intense and effective role, which needless to say, the experienced thespian delivers as. The role is characterised by a certain world-weary vibe.
We met him on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Goethe Institute, Park Mansions, after a special screening of the film. He was gracious enough to sit and talk to us about his career which has lasted quite a long time and the future of films in India.
The majority of us Indians still have our apprehensions about the genre “Shakespeare”. There are different interpretations when the name is uttered in the context of cinema.
For someone like him who has worked on numerous plays, he is familiar with classical drama like Kalidasa’s ‘Abhigyanshakuntalam’ Sudraka’s ‘Mrchhkatikam’. He has also acted in the Sanskritised Hindi play, Surendra Verma’s ‘Surya Ki Antim Kiran Se Surya Ki Pehli Kiran Tak’ (From Dawn Till Dusk), and he goes further to confess, “It was as pleasurable and as difficult to work in a Shakespeare adaptation as in any other film…Irrespective of whether it is a movie or a play, and you give it your best shot.”
Naseeruddin Shah is the best actor in the world. Period. Not one of the… He is the best!
Mr Kripalani has had a long working relationship with the director, Bornila Chatterjee, and the producer, Tanaji Dasgupta.
He was “their guru” when they had started off their careers ten or twelve years ago in theatre, and working on this particular film was thus “marvellous” for him, as he got “to surrender me to Bornila and Tanaji…I got into the character aur bohot maza aaya”, beamed Mr Kripalani.
The entire cast delivers very powerful performances in this film. Mr Kripalani called The Hungry one of the “most dramatic works” he has worked in, personally; his thoughts on the other veteran and star of the cast, Naseeruddin Shah too were very positive.
According to him, being old friends in real life did magic for their on-screen chemistry and their relationship on set. Mr Shah, he said “is the best actor in the world. Period. Not one of the. He is the best”; Mr Kripalani also said that he exuded a certain graciousness and warmth that helped the cast feel at ease, something one does not see in other actors of his mettle.
“Even if I made a mistake, he would be graceful enough to let it go and say chalo phirse le lete hain”, he said.
Mr Kripalani totally won us over with his warm ways and his wit over the course of the interview. His wit can also be seen on his twitter handle (@JayantKripalani), where he does not shy away from expressing his most honest opinions on things.
We asked him, how he views the future of independent cinema in India. He told us that first of all, as a professional actor it was quite impossible for him to distinguish between genres, independent or mainstream, alternative or “new-wave”. He acknowledged how there was nothing “new” and that stories are stories which get re-fashioned in their own way. He said that although films today can say a lot of things they could not a few a years ago, for him, it is and will always be a job, and he will make sure he does it to the best of his abilities.
He further pointed out with the arrival of digital platforms like Amazon Prime, the world of film too was changing.
“It has exploded. Now anyone can make a film; and if it’s good, it will get bought by [such platforms] just like in the olden days, big theatres bought rights to films that were good.”
As an example, he spoke from his personal experiences: “the world has changed.”
“In my lifetime, the fax machine was introduced and it disappeared in my lifetime too. That’s how fast the world and the movie-making business is changing. And all the more power to it.”
The old, ripe and experienced finds itself in juxtaposition with the new, the radical and fresh, in the film. The old order falls and the new order [despite the tragedy that it took to bring about the change] replaces it like a storm.
Change is a big part of everything in life; the film industry too, has made sure to come a long way and we too at the Moviean wish it the best.
Watch the trailer of The Hungry