Khandaani Shafakhana director Shilpi Dasgupta on why she chose Sonakshi Sinha to front a film on sex
Shilpi Dasgupta discusses why a woman actor like Sonakshi Sinha was important to cast as the lead in her directorial debut Khandaani Shafakhana.
In an industry obsessed with deifying the star, the spotlight often evades those who work tirelessly behind the scenes. The success of a film is often attributed to its face but seldom to those who constitute the spine. And so, in this column titled Beyond the Stars, Firstpost highlights the contributions of film technicians who bring their expertise to the table.
Sonakshi Sinha-starrer dramedy Khandaani Shafakhana released on Friday earlier this week. The film joins a list of mainstream Hindi movies that aim to start a discourse on sex, but avoid an icky treatment at the same time. Interestingly, veteran actor Annu Kapoor, who played a fertility center specialist in Shoojit Sircar's 2012 blockbuster Vicky Donor, also has a role in Khandaani Shafakhana. More recently, in 2017, RS Prasana's romantic comedy Shubh Mangal Savdhaan established the lead actor Ayushmann Khurrana as the poster boy of films related to sex. However, Alankrita Shrivastava introduced a female gaze to the genre with her 2017 film Lipstick Under My Burkha. In an exclusive interview, debutante director Shilpi Dasgupta talks about Khandaani Shafkhana, and why a actor like Sonakshi was apt to front her film.
Why do you feel sex is still a taboo in the small towns of India?
Don't you feel the same? Haha, everybody knows this fact. Sex is a three letter forbidden word, something that is always kept out of discussion tables.
Why you think safe sex is a practice that needs to be propagated in the small towns?
Not only in small but big towns as well. Safe sex is the only way forward for population control as well as disease control.
Why did you choose Sonakshi Sinha, and not any other leading lady, to front this story?
We wanted a face that is associated with family entertainment to carry this film on her shoulder. Sonakshi has never played bold characters. Mostly, she has performed 'sabhya naari' roles in movies, with that image when she plays this girl who runs a sex clinic, heads are going to turn, people are going to relate to her more. We wanted to show a girl next door talking about sex.
Badshah is an asset for any film. Making a debut playing a charatcter that is so near to him in real life and a patient of erectile dysfunction is a courageous thing. We are extremely delighted that he chose us for his debut. He is the real hero of the film.
Do you think that Annu Kapoor has come to be synonymous with the fertility clinic after Vicky Donor? And you have capitalised on this image?
Annu Kapoor is a versatile actor and has played varied characters with equal ease. It would unfair to label him as a synonym of fertility clinic. Moreover, he plays a lawyer in this film.
In what ways do you think Sonakshi's character is an extension of your own personality?
Not just me, Baby Bedi is an extension of every girl who hustles to make her ends meet. She is modern India's girl next door.
Do you believe Vicky Donor was less of a taboo because the protagonist was male, as opposed to female in Khandani Shafaakhana?
Kind of yes, but it won't be the same after people have watched our film, and the word is out that ours is a sensitive film that strikes just the right chord in terms of the message that is sent across.
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