Anshuman Jha: I am a fan of Bruce Lee and we wanted the action in Lakadbaggha to look real - Exclusive - Times of India
Actor turned filmmaker Anshuman Jha is going places. His last film Lakadbaggha is about an animal loving vigilante Arjun Bakshi, who unearths an underground illegal animal trade cell functioning from Kolkata port. On investigating, he chances upon a rare species of the Indian Striped Hyena. In an exclusive chat with ETimes, Anshuman gets candid about the film bagging accolades internationally, about his work in the mainstream cinema, the most challenging role in his career, his upcoming film with Rasika Dugal and Arjun Mathur and more.
You are best known for your role in Love, Sex Aur Dhoka (LSD), and now you have won the award for Best Actor for Lakadbaggha at South Asian International Film Festival...
LSD was a blockbuster. It was a huge success critically and commercially and was the first real digital film; it went to a lot of different festivals, including London and New York; it was the first Indian film to feature on the front page of the London Herald. On a budget of INR2 crore, the film made INR22 crore, which is a huge success ratio wise.
I was lucky to work with Dibakar Banerjee in LSD, which featured as one of the best films of the decade. It was a cult film. But now hopefully people will start associating me with Lakadbaggha.
In which way is Lakadbaggha different? Will it open up mainstream opportunities for you?
The industry works in its own way, and it is not like because of the award I am expecting more work. This is the first film about an animal lover-vigilante, and is going to have a part 2 and 3.
Lakadbaggha was also great fun; because I love both action and animals and this film combined both. The film is like a love letter to dogs and animals. We need to respect animals and co-existence is the only way forward. I have adopted Indie-dogs and I encourage people to do the same. Bring a dog home for a week. If you can't do this, then go and feed a dog every night. Every small action matters.
What would you reckon is Lakadbaggha's contribution to Indian and world cinema?
It's the first film on the planet about an animal lover vigilante. This concept has never been done before. This is a film which has an ordinary man who is a superhero for animals. He is without special powers, except for his connection with animals. We've brought raw hand-to-hand fighting where the actors do their own stunts without body doubles. We have long shots and the action looks very real. Bringing that back after a long time to Indian cinema is a big plus. It's very Korean in terms of raw street fighting, without CGI and live wires. It's slick in a raw way. Filmmaker Harish Vyas told me that the action was so real that he could feel the pain behind every punch. I am a fan of Bruce Lee and we wanted to do action that looked real, as if we ourselves are going through the fire.
The film is made with a deep love for animals by a bunch of outsiders with no filmi connections who trained with Tsahi Semesh, who trained the Avengers cast. Stunt director of Ong-Bak, Kecha Kamphakdee -- designed the action. I also helped in the VFX. We had a Belgian composer for the film, Simon Fransquet, who is touted as the next Hans Zimmer.
Considering LSD's commercial success, didn't you want to act in mainstream cinema?
After LSD, I got the opportunity to work in the World Theatre Festival (WTF) in Manchester, in the UK. I acted in Kismat Love Paisa Dilli with Mallika Sherawat and Vivek Oberoi. I did Yeh Hai Bakrapur by National Award winner Janki Vishwanathan,and Chauranga with Onir. This was another niche film which led to people thinking that 'I am a thinking man's actor.' I did Mastram, which has millions of views and was the first Indian series with an intimacy director. We got the team from Game of Thrones, namely Amanda and Megan who came from Hollywood.
What has been your most challenging role?
Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele was the most challenging. I am a heterosexual and had to play a homosexual. The psycho-physiology of the character is very different from who I am. It needed observation, understanding and emotional work to get to the core of that character, Veer.
What's up next for you?
I have directed my first film with Arjun Mathur and Rasika Dugal called Lord Curzon Ki Haveli, slated for a June release. We shot that in the UK.
yeh hai bakrapur tsahi semesh simon fransquet rasika dugal lakadbagghas kecha kamphakdee janki vishwanathan hans zimmer bruce lee film animals lakadbaggha action love indian work real animal cinema photo best award people role challenging mainstream different success actor you are best known for your role in love sex aur dhoka (lsd) and now you have won the award for best actor for lakadbaggha at south asian international film festival... in which way is lakadbaggha different? will it open up mainstream opportunities for you? what would you reckon is lakadbagghaa??s contribution to indian and world cinema? considering lsda??s commercial success didna??t you want to act in mainstream cinema? what has been your most challenging role? whata??s up next for you?