The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sathyu soars from Partition to rocket age through Isro ordeal

Bangalore, Dec. 19: Three decades after he made a mark in Bollywood with Garam Hawa, filmmaker M.S. Sathyu is planning a return, with an uncharted plot.

Based on a true incident that occurred at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), it shows the ordeal of a woman scientist unsettled by factors like caste and class in the rocket-age organisation.

Neecha Asman would play on the connotations of the title to show how certain socio-cultural factors limit the horizon of even scientists and plague institutions that are otherwise on a par with the best in the world. The focus would be on the total lack of scientific temper among scientists who have made it to an exclusive league ' that designs satellites and powerful rockets to lethal missiles and nuclear warheads.

The script is ready, but the final deal with the financiers is waiting to be cut. Once the contracts with the moneybags and actors are in place, Sathyu said he would take less than three months to complete the movie.

Sathyu promises it would be 'shockingly refreshing'. 'I wanted to make this film badly. It bothers me a lot ' why our identity is linked more to a religion and caste than to our identity as Indians. The old mindset persists even in the scientific community,' the 74-year-old director told The Telegraph.

Sathyu plans to 'package' the movie with an interesting cast and visually interesting scenes. He has Kareena Kapoor or Rani Mukherjee in mind for the lead role. 'They are very talented and it depends on the director how to use them. I have a list of actors to pick from ' Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai, Irrfan or Pankaj Kapur,' he said.

Among the interesting locales he is eyes are the Isro campuses. 'I am going to shoot most of it in Isro's campuses here, in Trivandrum and Sriharikota. I have written to Isro for permission to shoot in such locales. That will make it a visually interesting experience,' Sathyu said.

Space organisations seem to be the flavour of the season. The recently released Swades has shots of Shah Rukh Khan working in Nasa, the American space agency, for the first time in Indian cinema. The team had a 15-day shoot at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Washington DC and the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral.

'It's going to be a little expensive (a budget of a couple of crores) because of the cast and the locales, but it will be a low budget film because I am going for a digitised version rather than 35 mm negatives. These movies (digitised) can be stored on DVDs and beamed through multimedia projectors that are inexpensive. Some theatres in Maharashtra already have such projectors in place of conventional ones that take away the impact of good sound and visual effects. The digitised format has other advantages like recording original sound (without dubbing) and quick editing in digital studios,' Sathyu said.

Neecha Asman would mark his return to Bollywood after Kanneswara Rama (starring Amol Palekar, Anant Nag and Shabana Azmi) in 1975, Sookha (Anant Nag and Uma Shivkumar) in 1980 and Kahan Kahan se Guzar Gaya (Anil Kapoor and Sharon Prabhakar) in 1986.

Garam Hawa, his first release in 1973, remains his most talked about film. It continues to figure in discussions, the latest being one at Nehru Centre, London.

Last month, the South Asian Cinema Foundation organised a discussion on the movie, based on Partition, after felicitating Sathyu for his contributions to Indian cinema.

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