The world is shrinking and one has to compete with the best, says director Zoya Akhtar as she gears up for Gully Boy's Oscar campaign.
The film, about a budding Mumbai street rapper, India's official entry at the 92nd Academy Awards in the International Feature Film category. Zoya said she is not fazed by the competition. "Even meeting people there, opens your mind in so many ways. It's an amazing opportunity. The world's getting smaller and we are a huge industry. We all are going to be out there at some point or the other," Zoya told PTI in an interview.
"Your country has selected you and now you have to go in there and give your best shot. You have to represent what your country stands for, what the film stands for and what it's context is. You call it competition, I call it that club, where best from different countries are there," she added. The director said the aim is to hold as many screenings of the film as possible to familiarise the Academy voters with it.
"You can't make them like you but you have to be able to get yourself a chance to be liked. You can't say, 'vote for me' but you have to say, 'watch this' and if they like it, they will vote for it. The thing is to get it watched," she said, adding that her team is working on a strategy. The director said "Gully Boy", starring Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Sidhant Chaturvedi, Amruta Subhash, Vijay Raaz, Kalki Koechlin and Vijay Varma, was her attempt to look at the class system in India. "It is a film about the class system, where we are functioning in a way where certain people are kind of trapped in it and find it difficult to break out. That is what the film is about, everything else is the backdrop," she said.
According to Zoya, poverty is just an angle, not the main plot and the pull for her was the human story at the centre. "They are people. You connect with it not because it is about rich or poor but because it's a human story." Asked whether she ever thought about a sequel, the director said she had no plans to revisit the characters but would like to explore the hip-hop genre further.
"We want to do something in the hip-hop space but we don't know if we will have a part two. It will be another chapter." There were reports that Zoya had bought the rights for Martin Scorsese's gangster movies "The Departed" and "Gangs of New York" and had approached Ranveer for the same. The director said there was no truth to it but she would love to explore the space.
"No, I don't have the rights, someone else has it. (But) I am definitely looking for a gangster film. I am looking for a story. It is my favourite genre. Films like 'Scarface', 'The Godfather', 'Goodfellas' and 'Casino' are something I can watch again and again and from anywhere. I love them so I have to make one." The director said she looks at such characters as people who are broken and operate under a code that is sometimes stronger than the one the society imposes.
"There is something broken about these characters and about this world. It operates outside civilised society but sometimes their code is stronger than the code in the civilised society but they go by a stronger code. "This is kind of a dual existence where you are harsh but at the same time emotional. You are there because you have experienced trauma. It is a broken character but a very interesting and exciting one."