Firangs are perceived as morally bankrupt

Kalki at 'Shanghai' promotion

As an actor, what were your learnings from the film?
Dibakar is a perfectionist and he urges you and pushes you to give in your best. Even after constantly shooting for over 15 hours, he believes you can do even more. While the first take is often the most natural one and after several retakes- one can seem a bit rehearsed, Dibakar believes that certain levels can be pushed to improvement. Like there was a crying scene where he kept on urging me to be more intense and once I really stretched myself, I was able to deliver what he wanted. So I learnt that one needs to push the envelope to get the best out of oneself. 

You have been branded as a troubled child in most of your films; do you think this image works for you or against you?

It works against you unless you want to do only dark cinema. But then this is true for any kind of stereotype. It’s hard to break them. I think by doing films like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ I’ve taken a step towards it and proving the fact that I can do every kind of role. Personally, I like to do intense roles but then I think it’s very hard to do comedies or even romance. Any actor shouldn’t stick to any one genre of films or one kind of roles.

'Shanghai' trailer  

What were the shocking insights about small town India that you came across which you would like to share?

Nothing that I already wasn’t already aware of. One of the things that instantly becomes evident about small towns is the misplaced machismo of the men and how they ill-treat their women. While at the same time, a woman can’t abuse a man and get away with it. She would be abused physically and mentally and could even be killed. There is a lot of pride in being a man in small town India.

Why do you think this misplaced machismo is absent in urban men?
This is mainly because times are changing and women have realised that the chief role of their lives isn’t to just make babies and round chapattis. 

Since this film is about corruption and politics have you personally had a brush with corruption?
One comes across it in everyday life. From getting a phone connection to managing to get past a traffic cop, its so interlinked and engrained in our lives that there is little respite. We cannot stop or curb corruption overnight since the government and even the alternative government is equally corrupt.The film doesn’t provide a solution but makes of comment on India today. It may be based in small town India but it is synonymous with modern Indian politics.


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