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The WWW of Nirbhay Gujjar
Undeterred by the failure of Wounded – The Bandit Queen, director Krishna Mishra has come up with his 2nd film, this time on the life & times of dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gujjar. Mishra tells Manjari Singh that the film’s USP is that it has been shot entirely in the ravines, is based on intense research & portrays what Phoolan Devi put Kusuma Nain through after kidnapping her
It triggered quite a controversy in 1994, when Shekhar Kapur made Bandit Queen, based on the life of dacoit queen Phoolan Devi. But the film was highly acclaimed and bagged the prestigious National Award. No film was made on dacoits since then, till director Krishna Mishra came up with Wounded – The Bandit Queen, based on Chambal dacoit Seema Parihar. She herself played Parihar in the movie. Despite the real bytes, the film didn’t do well – commercially or critically.
That hasn’t deterred Mishra from making his second mount on a dacoit and he has now come up with a soiree on dreaded dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gujjar. Titled Beehaad – The Ravines, this film is all about Nirbhay’s relationship with his paramour Kusuma Nain. The film also features surrendered Chambal dacoits Maan Singh and Mangal Singh.
“Maan Singh is Phoolan Devi’s husband and runs an oil business in Jalaun. He is a former dacoit from the Nirbhay gang,” Mishra tells you.
It took him five years “intense spot research”, two years to finalise the script and another two years to get the clearance from the Censor Board. “They wanted to cut out 36 scenes and four songs from my movie. Had my film been a big banner, big budget film, they would have let everything go. But, since it is not, they trashed it,” a miffed Mishra says. “I had to move Supreme Court to get the clearance and now the film is ready to release on May 17,” he adds.
Beehad, Mishra says, is a real-life take on Nirbhay Singh Gujjar’s life – journeying with him from 1975 when he turned into a dacoit and going all the way up to 2005, the year he was killed. The film has been entirely shot in the Chambal ravines, Kanpur and Etawah, the areas where Nirbhay was active.
“People used to call him WWW due to his fondness of women, wine and wealth. I did a detailed research on him to bring out the real essence of his existence,” Mishra says. The film has graphic details of what Phoolan Devi made Kusuma Nain face when she kidnapped her. “After seeing Beehad, the audience will come to know that nothing can be more dangerous than a woman who has nothing to lose,” the director says.
The role of Nirbhay is played by Vikas Shrivastava while theatre actor Anamika Pandey plays Kusuma. “Vikas had a role in Talaash and Anamika is a promising newcomer,” Mishra says. The reason why he chose newcomers is because he believes only freshers can do justice to characters that are well-defined.
“I don’t think people would enjoy watching established actors as Nirbhay and Kusuma. If they do, they would be going to watch their favourite actors and not the characters I want to portray,” he says.
Beehad will be figuring at many film festivals, including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May. Next, Mishra plans to make a period film in which he will be depicting the plight of Indian women and how the British tried to abolish various systems that worked against them. “I will bring the positive side of the British rule in India – something which has rarely been shown in any Bollywood movie,” he concludes.
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We have already lost the sleeves of the sweater (of India) — Bangladesh and Pakistan. So let's keep the sweater. It's getting cold.
My creativity did not match with TV shows I was doing. I couldn't get satisfaction, that's why I couldn't do it.
Censorship is a battle we have fought on every single film. Every film, we had the most insane battles... It's restrictive, and regressive.