Actor-filmmaker Satish Kaushik, who is making his directorial comeback with Kagaz after six years, is both excited and relieved at the release of the film. The film, starring Pankaj Tripathi, revolves around the deceased Lal Bihari, who struggled for 19 years after being declared dead on paper.
In a conversation with Indianexpress.com, Kaushik explained about the paper world how the film’s fortunes changed when Salman Khan came in as a presenter and was working with a natural actor like Tripathi.
Some parts of the conversation are as follows:
Why is paper special for you?
Paper is very important to me because I am coming back as a director after a long time. Also, paper has a very different treatment and world, compared to the kind of films I have done before. And this world is very close to my heart. I managed to find myself in this film.
When did Pankaj Tripathi become a part of the film?
After I wrote it in 2017, I think the best thing was that Pankaj was coming on board. Sometimes getting the right actor does half your work. Like Lal Bihari, I even fought for 18 years to make this film, to show myself that the director is still alive in me.
Pankaj Tripathi added his nuance and comic touch to his characters. Did using his comic talent become a necessity?
It was decided from the beginning that the paper would be a black comedy. Pankaj expanded his role. Without any instructions, he manages to add small things. For example, I did not ask him to take some breaks in his lines. We both come from a village background, we have studied in NSD, so our rhythm matches. So many times, Pankaj gave suggestions in a scene, which I immediately accepted. This is because he was keeping pace with his performance.
You also play the role of a lawyer on paper. How was it to face the camera with Pankaj Tripathi?
If you ask me, I was so engrossed in making films, that everyone on the set was equally important. We also had some trainees working. I remembered all the lines, and there I had an actor who was so natural. So when I had to go and do my part, I had no problem.
How did things change for you after Salman Khan came on board as a presenter?
When I first narrated the story to Pankaj, we were intending to make a short film. But gradually, our desires increased. The scale grew and we became more ambitious. Salman Khan heard the story during the shooting of Bharata in Malta. There, I requested him to present the film. He just agreed. At first, I had no idea that he was serious, but soon, he listened to the whole story for two hours. He never interfered in anything. In fact, I asked her to watch it after the first cut, but she said she had faith in me.
Finally, why do you want the audience to see the paper?
I belong to rural India and I have made a film about it. So, you will see the real India in paper. Also, it was a good experience, because even at the age of 60 I have tried something new. You should realize that age is not a factor for a creative person. Anyone can achieve anything at any age.
The paper is now streaming on ZEE5.