'Zero Dark Thirty', the biggest manhunt story ever: Director Kathryn Bigelow (Interview)
After the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker" on the Iraq war, Kathryn Bigelow now brings one of the world's greatest manhuts in "Zero Dark Thirty", key sequences of which have beeen shot in India. Though the director admits it is a sensitive topic as it involves Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, she says it "has been sensibly and cautiously made".
"Zero Dark Thirty" chronicles the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama after the September 2001 attacks and his death at the hands of the Navy SEAL Team 6 in Abbotabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
"Yes, it is sensitive topic, which has been sensibly and cautiously made, which the people can judge for themselves. The movie is not for anyone or against any one; it has no agenda. It is a very neutral depiction of what happened during the world's greatest manhunt," Bigelow told IANS in an email interview.
"The movie is based on a first-hand account; so we have tried to keep the cinematic version of it as accurate as possible. This is a naturally dramatic and exciting story and, as you know, it is one of the biggest manhunt story ever. This is a story told by the people who lived and encountered the hunt," she added.
The film has won four Golden Globe nominations including Best Motion Picture; Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) Jessica Chastain; Best Director (Motion Picture) Bigelow; and Best Screenplay (Motion Picture).
Distributed by PVR Pictures, "Zero Dark Thirty" will release in India Feb 1.
Bigelow says researching about the film took more time than shooting for it.
"The research took us more time than filming the whole movie. The facts and figures kept going back and forth. We had people who were hesitant to talk about what they did, although they were all proud of it," said the 61-year-old Oscar winner and added that she convinced the people involved that "the information would be handled carefully".
What made you choose India to create Abbottabad?
"The first and foremost reason for not shooting in Pakistan is the strained US-Pakistan relations. The raid, which was carried out without the knowledge of the Pakistan Army and government, caused widespread anger at the violation of the country's sovereignty and remains a source of anti-American feeling in the country. This made shooting in Pakistan difficult," she said.
"We filmed the hideout of bin Laden in Chandigarh and Patiala in Punjab. While Chandigarh is a 1950s modernist town created by the French designer Le Corbusier, its outskirts have villages which resemble Thanda Choha, the hamlet of dusty lanes and ugly walled mansions where bin Laden hid in an illegally-built upper floor.
"Patiala is a historic royal town, which has fine colonial buildings similar to some found in Abbottabad, the hill town (in Pakistan) named after the 19th British conqueror of the North West Frontier, Major James Abbott," she said.
Even shooting in India wasn't a cakewalk for Bigelow.
"It was good experience shooting in India, though there were lot of controversies regarding recreating Abbottabad in Chandigarh, but in the end it all went good. The Indian team were very active and helpful and contributed as much as they could," she said.
The protests haven't hampered her spirits in any way.
"No, it didn't (hamper my spirits). I really understand the anti-Osama feeling in them and that's what led to protest, which is very natural. I would love to visit India again and learn more about the country. The tradition, the culture and the artifacts speak volumes about the rich history of the country," added Bigelow whose "The Hurt Lokcer" had won six Oscars.
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)