On 22 May 22 2020, India’s largest OTT platform releases its biggest direct-to-digital film, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui in and as Ghoomketu. ZEE5 is holding the world digital premiere of Pushpendra Nath Misra’s dark comedy directorial, which also features Anurag Kashyap as a lazy corrupt cop, Brijendra Kala as a chief editor, Ila Arun as Santo bua, Raghubir Yadav as Dadda, Swanand Kirkire as Guddan chacha, Ragini Khanna as Janki Devi and others. The story revolves around an aspiring Bollywood writer who runs away from his village, Mahona, in Uttar Pradesh, to Mumbai. He gives himself 30 days to find his footing in the city of dreams, and write his own film. Loosely inspired by the writer-director’s observational life, here’s an exclusive interview of Pushpendra Nath Misra:
Watch the exciting and out-of-the-box trailer of Ghoomketu here:
1. Starting with the title itself, is there any story behind the name ‘Ghoomketu‘?
You won’t believe me if I say so, but I actually got this name and this story in a dream. I woke up in the morning and wrote “Ghoomketu” because the protagonist (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) turns around and comes back. Even at his home, back in Mahona, he keeps circling (ghoomna) around Santo bua’s cot (chaarpaai). Actually, the name is Dhoomketu, which is a star comet. But, I thought Ghoomketu is unique, it fits the character and I will justify it as a journey to the beginning.
2. How did you derive inspiration from your personal life to make Ghoomketu?
See, this film is an observational comedy. It is not based on my life but inspired by people around me, who I have seen in my hometown, Lucknow (U.P.). Yes, I also had a dream of becoming a writer and making films, of which my parents were always supportive. The characterisation is also done though my imagination, mixed with the absorption of people’s traits and attitudes. But, Ghoomketu, as a person, is very different, and he reforms the definition of success in the climax, which I strongly believe in.
3. How did you decide the star cast of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raghubir Yadav, Ila Arun, Ragini Khanna, etc., for the film?
Honestly, I had written the film while keeping them in mind already. When casting Nawaz for the film, I knew he would fit the part completely because I wanted someone who is a simple man, but with a star-quality in him. Even Ila Arun ji was perfect for Santo bua, and I remember that I visited her once or twice to convince her for the part. I turned out lucky, that all the actors and actresses that I had in mind, agreed to do the film and it came out just as I thought!
4. How was your experience directing Nawazuddin Siddiqui as probably your own reflection?
It was super fun because Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a versatile actor, who can pull off looking like a villager but still having huge dreams and royal thoughts. He is an underdog with a charm and an appeal, who makes you believe that there is a Ghoomketu hidden inside everyone. That’s Anurag’s line actually! So, the common man also possesses the qualities of a star! His style and sense resemble that of a simple and straight man, but he has the guts to run away on his own, to become a writer in Mumbai, yet carries his loving family in his suitcase (ataichi).
5. How was it working with director turned actor Anurag Kashyap as Inspector Badlani?
Well, I had not written Badlani’s character with Anurag in my mind. But, he fit the role of a lazy and corrupt cop, very interestingly on-screen. In fact, we even sat and discussed the characterisation and the casting, because he is also a director and he understands the making of a film. While acting, he was brilliant and I knew that the shot is right in his scenes and sequences.
— Pushpendra Nath Misra (@mahonawala) May 13, 2020
6. Out of the entire cast and crew, who was the funniest on the set?
All of the characters were acting wonderfully and dedicatedly. See, when we shoot a comedy film, the process is not really funny. It is a perfect shot/take that is done seriously, which makes the film hilarious. During Brijendra Kala ji’s (Chief Editor Joshi) scenes, sometimes I used to laugh behind the camera and knew that the shot is good. Otherwise, all of us worked hard and performed very seriously on the set.
7. What are the challenges that you faced during the making and the release of the film?
Well, the film didn’t release for quite some time after it was made. But, one constructive feedback that I got was that the film was ahead-of-its-time when it was shot. But, we as filmmakers, we didn’t realise it, because we were already in the process of progress. Yes, now we understand that maybe it was relatable, or conventional. But, I’m glad that ZEE5 is world premiering our film digitally.
8. What are the tips that you would give to an aspiring writer who has come from a small town to Mumbai?
I’d say, ‘Local is Global’. Write your own emotions and stories. Not necessarily from your own life, but write from anecdotes and observations. See, emotions are universal. Cultures may be different, people may be varying, but your emotion and feelings for your story travels across borders and touches people’s lives or talks to someone uniquely. So, try to be observant and absorbent of everything at all times.
9. Finally, what are the three reasons that the audience should watch this film?
Firstly, it will make you laugh out and out, which is very important to reduce stress and tension during the lockdown. Secondly, it’s a family film. It gives you a feeling of collectiveness and togetherness while watching with your loved ones because Ghoomketu has such a weird, crazy, yet loving and emotional family. Third, it does not confine success to stardom. The definition of prosperity does not mean that you should get famous. Your dreams are fulfilled even when it doesn’t seem so. Having a lovely wife, a family, and a home, in itself is a success.