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Breathing life into The Japanese Wife

Last updated on: March 30, 2010 13:47 IST

Breathing life into The Japanese Wife

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Patcy N in Mumbai

The Japanese Wife, directed by Aparna Sen, is an adaptation of Kunal Basu's novel of the same name. The bilingual movie (English and Hindi) was shot in both Japan and the Sunderbans of West Bengal.

The film stars Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Moushumi Chatterjee, and also marks the debut of Japanese actress Chigusa Takaku.

Patcy N asks Aparna Sen what audiences should expect from The Japanese Wife. Excerpts:


Image: Rahul Bose and Aparna Sen

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'The Japanese Wife is about love that has no boundaries'

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What is the story of The Japanese Wife?

It is a very different kind of story. It is about love that has no geographic or cultural boundaries. It is about a Maths teacher -- Snehmoy -- who lives in the interior of the Sunderbans and a Japanese girl, Miyage, who lives in a small town in Japan.

They find each other's address in a magazine soon and become pen friends. Slowly they become good friends and decide to get married -- without meeting face to face! They stay married for 17 years. There's a lot of caring between the two. Both worry for the other. He gets medicines for her while she knits socks for him.


Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'This film has turned out like a miracle'

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What is different about The Japanese Wife? Why should people watch it?

I found the story very charming. Nowadays every second film is a love story. In Mr and Mrs Iyer, I found the love story very interesting because it had the backdrop of riots.

Here it is because the two people who are deeply in love haven't met face to face. That was unusual, and that's what I like about it. I also loved it for its humour. Plus the photography -- we have shot the film in beautiful locations. The music is brilliant and lastly, beautiful performances by the cast.

I don't know how people will like it, but as my daughter Konkona [Sen Sharma] says, 'If you have a heart, you will love it!' I feel that this film has turned out like a miracle. It's like a poem.


Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'No one would give me so much time and commitment as Rahul Bose'

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What made you select Rahul Bose? How was it working with him?

Rahul Bose plays a boy from a village in the Sunderbans, so he had to speak with a Bengali accent. I wanted a person who could attend lots of workshops and I thought that no one would give me so much time and commitment as Rahul Bose. I know how Rahul prepares and his dedication.

Rahul and I share a great bond, and we have mutual respect for each other. Likewise, Raima was best suited for this role. Even when I was writing Sandhya's character I could see Raima's face in front of me.

How did you select the Japanese girl Chigusa Takaku?

We went to Japan where I met 12 girls through an agency. I chose Chigusa because she seemed very vulnerable and has a very sweet face.


Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'I never underestimate my audience'

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How was it shooting the film?

It was very tough because we were shooting in Japan and the Sunderbans, and we needed particular seasons to shoot this film. We had to wait for the monsoons; it was very hot just before the monsoons and everyone from the crew and cast fell ill, one after another.

Most of your films are love stories?

Love is an important part in one's life. My film 15 Park Avenue was on schizophrenia, where Meethi (Konkona Sen) falls in love with an imaginary character. Yes, that also had love.

But then all the mainstream films and thrillers that you see also have some love interest. But I don't do it for that reason only. I do it because it is an integral part of our lives.

I make films in order to share my vision with the audience. But I never underestimate them [audience]. I respect them and don't try to give them formula films. I just share my dreams, my thoughts, my vision. And every single time the audience has been responsive.


Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'Konkona has been involved right from the start'

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Has Konkona seen the film?

Konkona has seen the film and she loves it. She has been involved right from the start. All the acting workshops we did were at her flat; and she would help us and give us cues. She wanted to be part of this film. And she is because she helped us so much.

Tell us about the music of the film?

Sagar Desai has composed the music and has done a brilliant job. We have Japanese as well as Indian music, so it is more like a fusion.

We called a girl from Japan to play the Koto [Japan's national instrument] for us.


Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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