Pop-culture references reminder of why I'm making films: Vasan Bala
(Sourced from PTI)
A sprinkle of "nostalgia" and pop-culture references have become signature to director Vasan Bala's films, who says revisiting his favorite movie memories drives him emotionally as a storyteller. The Mumbai-based filmmaker's first theatrical release, 2019's Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota was a homage to martial arts legend Bruce Lee loaded with Bollywood references starting from its title, based on Amitabh Bachchan's dialogue in Mard.
The story about a man, whose medical condition makes him impervious to pain, was a hit with people appreciating Bala's pulpy treatment that reminded them of films like Shehnshah, Gangs of Wasseypur, Paap Ko Jalakar Raakh Kar Doonga, Pulp Fiction, and Inglorious Basterds. He says the references are never introduced while writing the film and come in as a garnish at a later stage.
"First, we are interested in deciding about what we are trying to say and what the characters are. And once we are done, then I have fun garnishing with references of films and actors and other things I love," he said. "I just sprinkle. It's fine even if audiences don't get those references. It gives me an emotional connect while making films," he added.
The writer-director said as someone who has grown up watching all the pulpy, popular, and cult films from across the globe, returning to his memories is the best way to stay on track as a filmmaker.
"It's a beautiful reminder. And if I have the opportunity to keep doing it then why not. No one needs to know all this. It's about going into a moment that emotionally drives me," Bala said. The filmmaker adapted the same process for his next venture Ray, a Netflix anthology series based on the short stories written by legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray.
The series has four episodes, each a contemporary interpretation of Ray's writings, with Bala directing Harshvardhan Kapoor, Radhika Madan-starrer Spotlight. It also features pop-culture references and well-defined characters. Bala also said that every character should have their own life and persona in a story.
Apart from Spotlight, the anthology features three other episodes - Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, helmed by Abhishek Chaubey and Srijit Mukherji-directed Forget Me Not, and Bahrupiya. The ensemble cast includes Manoj Bajpayee, Gajraj Rao, Ali Fazal, Shweta Basu Prasad, Anindita Bose, Kay Kay Menon, Bidita Bag, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Akansha Ranjan Kapoor, among others. Ray will premiere on Netflix on June 25.