British project by-product of ‘The Lunchbox’ success: Director Ritesh Batra

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Ritesh Batra is in the process of waving his cinematic wand to bring the world of Julian Barnes’ novel “The Sense of an Ending” to life for a British film in which he is also working with Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent. The director points out that fame of “The Lunchbox” opened the doors to the West for him.

“The movie working everywhere was a real gift to me. And the by-product of that is this offer of directing a British project in English language,” Batra told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Batra’s ticket to global acclaim was the success of “The Lunchbox”, starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. His debut feature film narrated a simple tale of a love-lorn wife and a lonely man and how letters through a ‘lunchbox’ bind them.

The film went globetrotting with its taste and managed to satiate film enthusiasts across the world with its flavours. The 2013 film was appreciated at several international film extravaganzas like Cannes, Zurich, London and Toronto and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards.

But for now, the foreign project is what occupies Batra’s mind who has helmed several short films like “Gareeb Nawaz’s Taxi” and “The Masterchef.”

Sharing insight about the crossover project, Batra, who is currently shooting the film in Britain, said that the venture will have its own world infused with the book’s plot at its periphery.

“The film is an adaptation of the 2011 novel that I love. I think adaptations are always difficult. Movies have to exist as compliment to the book. You cannot make a film entirely on a book. So, the exciting thing of this project is that it conveys the essence of the novel, but it also has its own thing going on,” said Batra.

The novel follows life of a retired man and how it changes drastically after he receives an unexpected letter from a lawyer. The book has embedded several sub-plots — confrontation with past and staring at the unfulfilling present marred by the suicide of the man’s childhood best friend.

Batra is directing Broadbent for the film.

Appreciating his body of work, he lists out his favourite which includes movies like “Another Year”, “Topsy Turvy” and “Iris”.

Quiz him about chance of any Indian actor finding a place in the foreign project, Batra says “it is hard to answer” but “there is a possibility.”

To be shot in Britain, specifically London, the film marks the first screenplay by Nick Payne. FilmNation Entertainment holds worldwide rights and will co-finance the project with BBC Films. Origin Pictures’ David Thompson and Ed Rubin are producers of the movie.

Batra notes that the deal breaker for him was the “love for the script and team”.

“It is an important piece of British literature. I loved the script and the team behind it. So it is for the love of the story and the characters that I picked the project. I believe people are as important as the content,” he said.

There has always been hue and cry over the difference in the working style of India and foreign. But Batra points out that the only difference for him is that “Mumbai is where home is.”

“I think film crews function in the same way all over the world,” he said.

Batra is not only leaving imprints in showbiz, but has also taken up the responsibility to revive a lost tradition – Mumbai’s Irani cafes.

The director said the initiative will continue as he will be coming back and forth from Britain.

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