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DOBAARAA: Anurag Kashyap goes to the multiverse

IFFM 2022 opened with Anurag Kashyap's yet-to-be-released time-travel film. See it in wide release tomorrow 19 August.

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Anurag Kashyap is back in Melbourne for IFFM, this time with his new film Dobaaraa. He joined his lead actor Taapsee Pannu to present the time-travel film to a packed theatre in Hoyts Docklands.

The last time he was here was in August 2016 when his directorial feature Raman Raghav 2.0 released, and I was going through my Otis Milburn phase of trying to grow an ill-advised moustache that never amounted to anything more than whiskers.

Six years have passed since that dreadful experiment and I’d like to believe that both Anurag and I have emerged wiser. I’ve come to accept that facial hair will never work for me, while Anurag has gone on to direct four more feature films in this time post Raman Raghav 2.0. Crucially, none of these four films, including his latest release Dobaaraa, have been written by him. He’s been a director busy translating someone else’s stories on screen in these last six years. Whether this is a conscious, marked shift in Anurag’s career where he’s moving away from writing or just a temporary thing, we don’t quite know yet.

As Kashyap elaborated in the post-screening Q&A, the script of his latest film came to him via Taapsee Pannu, the lead actor of the film. She was running it by Kashyap in case he could find anyone to direct the film. He shopped the script around for a while to see if there were any takers for it in his network but had no luck. Then one fine day, he decided to read the script himself – and fell in love with it.

dobaaraa at IFFM 2022
Anurag Kashyap and Taapsee Pannu arrive for the IFFM screening (Source: Facebook / IFFM)

The premise of the film is a genre filmmaker’s delight – Kashyap has been adamant over the years that he sees himself as a genre filmmaker first and foremost and probably couldn’t resist what this story offers. It’s got a delicious mix of murder mystery, time travel as well as the multiverse theory. It’s been widely reported that Dobaaraa is a remake of the 2018 Spanish film Mirage (now on Netflix). This isn’t entirely true. The treatment of both films is very different. As clarified by Kashyap in the Q&A, both films were being made side by side, so even though both films are based on the same script, the end result is different, based on the respective filmmaker’s sensibilities.

IFFM Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange introduces the film (Source: Facebook / IFFM)

The film follows the protagonist Antara (played by Taapsee Pannu), who gets caught up in storm in 2021 and through some cosmic events, gets to save the life of a 12-year-old boy called Anay who is witness to a murder. However, when she wakes up the next day, her entire life has changed. She has a different job to the one she had yesterday and there’s no record of her deadbeat husband (played by Rahul Bhatt) or her young daughter. No one believes that she had this whole other life in this new world; no one except a police inspector (played by Pavail Gulati). Together, they try to discover how Antara ended up here and how Anay, the young boy whose life Antara saved, ties into all this.

Kashyap mentioned at the sidelines of IFFM that he was excited to take up this challenge because audiences today are more familiar with sci-fi and the mutiverse theory.

“One of the favourite films of my daughter is this film called Everything Everywhere All At Once [referring to the recent film by the Daniels], and that’s all about the multiverse. When I made No Smoking, nobody understood it. But today, people are more aware. They’ve been exposed to Doctor Strange, Dark [Netflix series], and all these other things that are exploring new ideas.”

Dobaaraa opens Australia-wide in cinemas from 19 August.

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