‘I’m yet to find My Voice’
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Anurag Basu defends Barfi! against plagiarism charges, and talks about his days as a background dancer and why he doesn't like to flaunt the cancer badge.
What was the first thought that came to your mind when you started writing Barfi!?
Strangely, I don't remember how it all started. I feel the same way about my wife Tani. I can't remember the first time I met her. A lot of things went into the making of Barfi! — bedtime stories to my kids, the realisation that my films are too verbose. I met a deaf-and-mute caretaker at an autistic school. He became the trigger for a two-page story I wrote. Jab maine story likhi, mujhe apne kaam se ishq ho gaya.
You directed the TV show, Koshish: Ek Aashaa, which was about an autistic man. Did that train you for Barfi!?
You know, every day, I used to regret not being able to portray that character because of the limitations of television. Koshish... was a big TRP success, but I had to take a lot of liberties in the characterisation. I promised myself that one day I would make a film and do justice to an autistic character.
After Kites, one would have expected you to make a safe film. How did you manage to convince producers UTV to back this film?
All those who knew about Barfi! didn't think it was a safe film but I always felt it was safe. Even Ronnie Screwvala had confidence in it. My scripts are never more than 15 pages long. I rely purely on narration and there too I'm a very bad narrator. But somehow I manage to show the film that's playing in my head to listeners. When Ronnie saw the final edit of Barfi!, he told me that it was exactly as I had narrated.