The shooting of Bollywood biopic "Shakeela" had to be shifted from Kerala to Karnataka due to the devastating floods. But director Indrajit Lankesh says the experience of shooting here has given them a chance to explore some unexplored locations of Karnataka.
"Shakeela", starring Richa Chadha, narrates the life story of southern adult film actress Shakeela.
"We finished the scripting and location search for the film well in advance, which is a regular process. A week before we started rolling (in Kerala), the rain started and then the floods... So yes, it was very difficult for us to change everything immediately for our shooting.
"But I would say that creating Kerala in Karnataka was a blessing in disguise. We have got some of the unexplored locations in various parts of Karnataka," Lankesh told IANS in an interview on-location here.
"We had to create some specific structures of Kerala architecture on set to make it look authentic. We had to work a little harder to create that world (in Bengaluru), but I think it is worth investing such energy. The story is worth telling," said Lankesh, a recipient of the Karnataka State Film Award.
The story of the film revolves around Shakeela who is known for acting in adult-themed southern Indian films -- something which gave her a 'porn star' tag.
Sharing his view on this, Lankesh said: "I think all the tags and isolation she dealt with in her life has come from the society, especially from the narrow-minded people. She was called a porn star or a B-grade film actress. A porn film never released in theatres, all her films were certified by the authority. Since those films made huge money, it is clear that we have an audience for such content. Then why disrespect an actor to be part of such content?"
"Rather I think she was cornered because she practically made many male actors insecure with her success," he added.
Calling the Indian society "judgmental", Lankesh said: "The story of Shakeela is an example of that. We are too quick to judge an individual without knowing the person at a deeper level. And I strongly believe that such mindset should be changed."
According to the filmmaker, the "unjust society" not only pushed Shakeela to a corner with constant humiliation but also threw her out of the film industry.
"Finally when I met her and realised that she is living in a one-room house from where she started her career, it shook me from within," the filmmaker said, explaining exactly what intrigued him to make a film on Shakeela.
Wasn't it unbelievable to know to see that who was once a star in south Indian cinema, failed to even buy a house and good lifestyle for herself?
Explaining this, Lankesh said: "In the present times, when we get a job, we start planning for our future because we are educated, we are calculative. Shakeela came to the film industry out of poverty and her aim was to survive in the crisis. Since she had no exposure and education, she made several wrong financial and emotional decisions. That is how, even after reaching the top, she had a hand-to-mouth situation."
The film "Shakeela", also featuring the National Award-winning actor Pankaj Tripathi, marks Lankesh's debut in Bollywood.
Asked about the challenges he is facing to make the story appealing for Bollywood cine-goers, he said: "Taking a story of a south Indian actress and making the film for the larger audience is tough because the backdrop of the film is also set in the south. The society, culture, landscape of South India is different from North. The audience is not so well versed with the nuanced details of our culture.
"So in the film, they will not only experience a new story but also a new culture. I have to make it engaging enough."