After his dark and murky Kaminey, Vishal Bhardwaj is back with 7 Khoon Maaf, where his female protagonist murders her seven husbands in an unending quest for love. For directors obsessed with their male heroes, where heroines are mere eye-candy for item numbers, Vishal Bhardwaj’s faith in Priyanka Chopra is commendable.
Vishal has a unique, distinguishable dark style that stands out in most of his films (except maybe The Blue Umbrella). What also stands out is his love for literary characters. He has adapted books, stories, short stories and even plays to the big screen creating a very faithful band of followers. As such, Vishal Bhardwaj isn’t too worried about the commercial success of his films. “It is very difficult to make a commercially successful film. It is easy to make an off-beat film,” he says. “Lagaan, Sholay, Munnabhai MBBS and 3 Idiots are some of the recent films that I liked.” Among his contemporaries, Vishal is all praise for Rajkumar Hirani, “Raju is a fantastic filmmaker,” he raves, “He’s one of the best commercial filmmakers in the past 15-20 years. He just bridges the divide: his films have no problems aesthetically and they cater to the audiences quite well too.”
With a heroine as the lead in his latest, ‘7 Khoon Maaf’, finding seven actors to play second fiddle to Priyanka Chopra must have been an uphill task. Vishal concedes that he did approach many top stars to play Priyanka’s husbands in the film, but many of them backed out. While refusing to reveal names, Vishal says, “I think it happens for the best. When I went about casting for Maqbool, Naseeruddin Shah was my first choice for the role which Pankaj Kapur finally played. But Naseer suggested Pankaj Kapur’s name for this role and himself went for the role of crooked inspector instead. Now when I look back at the film, I can’t imagine it in any other way.”
This also isn’t the first time Vishal is teaming up with writer Ruskin Bond. ‘The Blue Umbrella’ was his version of Ruskin Bond’s novella of the same name. And it was Ruskin’s Susanna’s Seven Husbands that caught his eye with its intriguing tale. “When I read the book’s title I thought, how could a woman marry seven times? After finishing it, I realized that Susanna does not just marry but also murders her seven husbands! Her character is very mischievous but you still fall in love with her; only a master like Ruskin Bond can create a character like that.” But will the dark tone of the film put people off? Vishal disagrees, “The series of murders intrigues you and you actually side with Susanna. I think it gives flamboyance to the character. And I think that’s the buzz about the film.”
We sure hope so.