Celebrated photographer and film producer Atul Kasbekar geared up for the release of his home production "Tumhari Sulu" which features Vidya Balan as the protagonist -- a middle-aged housewife -- saying the image of a hero has changed in modern Indian cinema.
After the success of his maiden home production "Neerja", his second film as a producer also shows the story of a woman, where the age representation of the protagonist is different.
Asked what made him take the creative leap, Kasbekar told IANS: "The image of a hero is changing in audience's mind. Whether it is in 'Dangal' where Aamir (Khan) portrays the journey of an over-weight, grey-haired old man, or Sonam (Kapoor) in 'Neerja' -- the definition of a hero is not about beating up people to prove heroism that used to happen in earlier cinema.
"Now, winning a larger-than-life situation in reality by someone in a realistic manner is praised as heroism. So in our film 'Tumhari Sulu', Sulu is an ordinary woman with the enthusiasm of seeking far more from life, and how she handles the situation with honesty, is making her a hero."
Kasbekar said "Tumhari Sulu", releasing on Friday, offers an old world charm in the love story of a husband and wife.
"The idea behind backing a script like 'Tumhari Sulu' is that its story is so relatable and fresh, and at the same time, the central character of the story is a hero sitting next to you that you do not notice often. As a production company, we also want to explore the genre that has not been explored well.
"This film is slice-of-life and has an old world charm that we used to get in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's film. For the longest time, that has not happened in Bollywood. So when Vidya came to us along with Suresh Triveni and we heard the narration, we happily took up the project," he added.
Having started his career in 1991, Kasbekar is known for the glamorous photo shoot of the Kingfisher calendar from its inception in 2003. As part of it, he photographed some of the top models and Bollywood heroines.
Asked if he tends to give suggestions for better visuals in his film productions since he has a strong visual sense, Kasbekar said: "Well, as a producer I told my director to be open to everyone's suggestion. But at the end of the day, the film is his vision, so he is the best judge to imply it.
"On our set, even a tea boy's suggestion can be taken and the studio head's suggestion is not forced on the director. Our aim is to create a platform to collaborate with creative people to make a film. The role of a producer is to facilitate creative idea, to give the director wings to fly. Otherwise, the change in cinema will not come."
"Another important thing is, after earning goodwill from the industry, with my 25 years of career as a still photographer, people have respect for me. So, instead of interfering, I suggest things if and when needed. That's when you get the respect, and suggestions are valued."
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