Director Indrajit Nattoji on Aafat-e-Ishq, his second directorial, that released today

We catch up with artiste turned director Indrajit Nattoji’s to talk about Aafat-e-Ishq, his Indian heartland reconstruction of a Hungarian original, Liza, The Fox-Fairy

Romal Laisram Published :  29th October 2021 10:59 PM   |   Published :   |  29th October 2021 10:59 PM
Indrajit Nattoji on the sets of Aafat-e-Ishq

Director Indrajit Nattoji on the sets of his second release, Aafat-e-Ishq

Artiste-turned-director Indrajit Nattoji’s Aafat-e-Ishq, that released today, is a dark dramedy set in a fictional small town in the Indian heartland. The director, who previously directed Aagey Se Right (2009), is excited to helm this official remake of the multi award-winning Hungarian film Liza, The Fox-Fairy. Aafat-E-Ishq starring Neha Sharma, Ila Arun, Deepak Dobriyal, and Namit Das is produced by Zee Studios and is now streaming on Zee5. We catch up with the director to talk about the film and more.

Q.  Tell us a bit about the new project?
The Zee Studio Originals team had acquired the rights for the award-winning Hungarian film Liza the Fox-Fairy. During one of my script-pitch meetings with them, they, in turn, pitched an Indian remake of the same to me. I loved the film and its quirky black humour, and it connected with some of my favourite story-telling genres that I have always been a fan of — fantasy, film noir and black comedies. 

Q. How do you ensure you stay true to your craft, especially when you work on a remake?
Liza is a film that has already been made and presented successfully. Therefore, as a filmmaker attracted to its story, one must first deconstruct the narrative and put it back together in one’s own personal construct and setting. That’s how one can ‘own’ the essence of the story. Aafat-e-Ishq is my Indian heartland reconstruction of the Hungarian original. The challenge was to reinterpret an east European sensibility and nuance to that of the small-town Hindi heartland. With my writer Neha Bahuguna, I created a fictional Indian small town universe for our protagonist Lallo by putting together realistic small-town elements of location, textures, sounds and characters from different parts of India. I can safely say that Aafat-e-Ishq is now an adaptation and not a remake. It is a reboot of Liza, with some new twists, eclectic original music and quirky small-town Indian characters. I retained some elements from Liza, but I think it is too soon to reveal anything at this time. Let us wait to see the film!

Q. Were you involved in the casting and if you were, how did you go about doing it?
As I set out to write our version of Liza with my writer Neha Bahuguna, the characters naturally acquired literary flesh and bones, which in turn gave them a face and a personification with their backstories and quirks. When this happens, my casting process begins as I assign actors to those characters that I have visualised. 

Q. How was it working with this cast?
Neha Sharma is a dedicated and intelligent actor and ultimately transformed herself into my protagonist — Lallo. Deepak Dobriyal, Amit Sial, and Namit Das are veteran actors who were my first and only choice for the characters of Vikram, Prem Gunjan, and Atmaram, respectively. Ila Arun at her age brought into the set a specific fearless and inspiring energy. I learned a lot from her. When they all came together, the film set was one big happy family with constant laughter, fulfilling conversations, and incredible performances. I hope the film catches the audience’s imagination and succeeds in entertaining them, something we all need as we slowly emerge from a devastating 2020

Q. What can we see you working on next?
I have recently completed visual design and VFX production for a film that will be released soon on a leading OTT platform. I have an ambitious web series in development and a film script in pre-production. Meanwhile, I am working on an art collection — a series of on-location landscapes as I restart my travels once again.