The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After Jism, Colombo tryst with destiny

Colombo, Nov. 10 (AFP): India’s new-wave director Amit Saxena, whose film Jism caught the imagination of audiences across South Asia this year, has relocated to Sri Lanka for a more daring venture.

Following a trajectory away from the usual Bollywood formula of romance, song and dance, Saxena’s Take Two examines the role of destiny in a person’s life — a theme barely tapped on a subcontinent where tens of millions really believe that the stars do foretell the future.

In the movie, model-turned-fashion designer Sheena, played by Vidya Mallavde, arrives in Sri Lanka’s capital from India to hold a fashion show that she hopes will land her an assignment. Despite working all night on her creations, she loses out on the job.

As she walks dejectedly out of the building, her life splits in two. In one life, she realises her dream and in the other she reaches the same point — her destiny — but has to tread a tortuous path. “Whatever is destined for you will come true, irrespective of the path you tread,” Saxena told Colombo’s Sunday Observer newspaper, explaining the rationale behind the movie.

“Everybody in this subcontinent operates by that parameter. Even in our dreams and prayers we are thinking of another life to come. It is something unique to this region and I think that’s what binds us together as one people.”

He said his inspiration for Take Two comes from Polish filmmaker Krzystztof Kieslowski and particularly the what-if formula of his 1981 thriller Blind Chance.

“People now understand that there is a genre of films other than the commercial classic romantic comedy genre which the Indian cinema has been dealing with at large,” Saxena said.

“We have reached saturation point with the big budget films. In conventional commercial films, the heroine always treads well-demarcated lines of morality, will not question anything and always follow a man. I have never lived with women like that and my mother worked all her life,” the 32-year-old director said.

“I do not see venturing out as a lack of morality, but see that parameters set by other people have to be broken. They are being broken now in India.”

Saxena said that in Jism, starring Bipasha Basu, he tried to create a New World Indian woman who is not afraid of her sensuality and sexuality.

The movie marked a new phase in the gradual breakaway by the Hindi-language film industry from its tried and tired formula. The only people who criticised Jism, he said, were men who preferred women to be viewed as objects.

“Sheena is vibrant, kind-hearted and vulnerable but still a fighting woman,” Saxena said of the lead character of Take Two. “We need to move a little bit away from fantasy and see more of modern reality.”

The movie, which is being filmed in Colombo and other Sri Lankan localities such as Kandy, Ella and Nuwara Eliya, is being produced by Vikram Singh and has a musical score by Haris Jayraj.

Indian rock star Karan Oberoi plays one of the main roles. The movie is expected to be released in February.

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