Actors Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana with director Shoojit Sircar in a still from 'Gulabo Sitabo' Credit: Twitter image

Guwahati: “I don’t call Gulabo Sitabo simply a movie,” said Shoojit Sircar in an exclusive interview with EastMojo editor-in-chief Karma Paljor, when asked about his thoughts about the digital release of the film.

“I have been telling everyone that this is a world of Gulabo Sitabo, so one can understand how important sound is in this movie,” he added.

The movie is centered around a dilapidated haveli, Fatima Mahal in Lucknow, that had seen better days in the past with tenants who are equally crass and in stark opposition to a more elegant, civilised world. Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmaan Khurrana in the lead, the movie just had its official release on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.

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Gulabo Sitabo was all set for a theatrical release; however, due to the present scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had its release on the OTT platform, Amazon Prime Video. The movie directed by Shoojit Sircar has Bachchan portray a perpetually grouchy Mirza who is a caretaker of his wife’s haveli and cannot wait for her death which will then transfer the ownership to him.

This will, in turn, allow him to vacate the tenants, particularly Khurrana aka Baankey (unanimous leader of the tenant group) as they pay a very meagre amount as rent. Additionally, the cocky Baankey’s family has been squatting in the haveli for more than 70 years unwilling to vacate or even pay an increased rent. He and Mirza are hence always locked in a constant battle of cat and mouse which is the central dogma of the tragi-comedy. The movie set, the plotline, the sound, the visuals give us an immersive feeling while watching this movie something which the director himself describes later in a tete-a-tete.

“We did not want him to look like Amitabh Bachchan, we wanted him to look like Mirza,” he said. Enamored by Bachchan’s dedication to the film, the director recounted when they had a shoot at 6 am, Big-B had to be up in the make-up room by 3.30 am. Moreover, the movie was shot in June and July under the sweltering heat and he had to wear the layers of clothing with the heavy make-up for long hours, the director added.

Gulabo Sitabo was all set for its theatrical release; however, due to the present scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic had its release on the OTT platform, Amazon Prime Video

In the exclusive interview with the director Sircar, he gave us an insight into the filming, post-production, and his thoughts on his first-ever digitally released movie.

Sircar said that the team of sound engineers and recorders for the movie never took into account that the first release would be a digital one. The movie’s other signature was the maximum usage of sync sounds aka the actual sound recorded at the time of filming to give the viewers an immersive feeling of being in the city of Lucknow along with the actors on the screen.

Khurrana portrays the character of Baankey as one of the protagonists

“The film was mixed for a theatre release but then later decided that we were going for a digital one and that was a little challenging but I think Sinoy (Sinoy Joseph, re-recording engineer) and Jojo (Dipankar Chaki, sound designer) told me that it’s not going to make much difference because the way we have mixed it is good for digital as well,” Sircar said.

The movie even uses the immersive sound technology Dolby Atmos where the sound of people, places, things, and music comes alive with breathtaking realism.

Paljor even asked about the common yet everyone’s favourite question to the director, “How it was like working with Amitabh Bachchan for the second time or rather how difficult was it?

“It was fascinating to work with Mr. Bachchan who is technically so perfect,” replied Sircar, adding that Bachchan has been in the field of cinema for more than 53 years which is almost equal to his age.

Movie Poster

“Lucknow was a very well behaved city in terms of movie shooting,” said Sircar recounting the days. “When we were shooting there one interesting thing that happened was that nobody could recognise Mr. Bachchan and he would pass by people and they would ask us about his whereabouts to which my production team would say he is inside,” he added humorously.

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