Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata hai 2.0

Cult classic film of 1981, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata hai, written and directed by filmmaker Saeed Mirza, is being remade by young director Soumitra Ranade who adapts it to current times

A still from Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai
A still from Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai

Rana Siddiqui Zaman

Before we go to the new film to be released on April 12, let’s have a quick look at the old classic. The film, starring Naseeruddin Shah as Albert Pinto, Shabana Azmi as his girlfriend Stella, Smita Patil as Albert’s sister, and Arvind and Sulbha Deshpande as his parents, is a story of Goan christians who live in Mumbai in a lower middle class setup.

The father works in a textile mill and Albert is a car mechanic, happy repairing and driving expensive cars. Stella works in an office under the supervision of a male gazer boss, as she has to support her family’s earnings. Albert is a straightforward person, he blurts out his opinion and gets extremely angry if he hears lies and and sees wrongs happening. His father is a submissive mill worker. But he joins the strike by mill workers to raise demands of proper wage and rights.

The mill owner gets his cars repaired by Albert and tells him strike is done by gunda elements and mafia-minded workers, and not by those who want to to work and feed their families. As his father is beaten up for no fault of his, despite 28 years of dedicated service, Albert who has been complacently living in a fool’s paradise so far, joins the protest, realising the ground realities of (his) class. The film was made on the famous mill workers’ strike in Mumbai, through the story of Goan christians families and their own issues of daily lives.

The new film by Ranade who assisted Mirza for a long time, hence, has to his credit unusual films like Jajantram Mamantrum, Goopi Gawaiiya Bagha Bajaiyya and Alibaba Aur 41 Chor. He says, “The film has a modern take with a completely different storyline. This film has a reference to the old one by virtue of its title only. Otherwise it is a thriller, in which Albert goes missing and his girlfriend Stella, played by Nandita Das, files a police complaint. Where has Albert Pinto gone and why? Whether he will come back is what the story is all about.”

Ranade, an ad filmmaker, recalls how this story was penned. “For the last few years I have been noticing a sea change in the behaviours of the people, especially the youth. They are impatient, frustrated, angry and restless. And they react swiftly with intolerance. So, I started writing on it. After 80 per cent of the script was complete, I realised my hero was going the Albert Pinto way. I decided to show it to Saeed Sir, who is my mentor. I was sure he wouldn’t like it but he was very pleased. He permitted and encouraged me to go ahead with it. He allowed me to use the title too.”

Ranade’s Albert is “angry with himself as he has no voice. His voice is being suppressed and he is frustrated”. Notably, his Albert comes from the time we are living in. Agrees the director, “For the last five years or so, today’s youth is being fooled by fake images of high GDP and overall growth.

So, he is angry and his voice is being suppressed in universities and other spaces. If so many youth are angry, their anger needs to be channelled properly. They are living in a dangerous situation. Where will he vent his anger out? Platforms have been snatched from him and he is made to live in a make believe world.

My Albert belongs to this youth brigade. I also wanted to speak about the middle class. I feel, it’s time this middle class is talked about. This class is very much detached from the social realities. They are happy. They have phones in hands, free wi-fi, netflix, instagram etc. They get entertainment whenever they want. Their botheration is more a traffic jam though petrol hike affects them more. They are also not actually bothered about societal distress like farmers’ suicide, till they see a volley of them walking unrealistic miles to Delhi’s Parliament to protest! Though most of the intelligentsia and protest warriors come from this class; but unless jolted, they are not even bothered.

My protagonist comes from this middle class and wants to fight the system.” Mirza, now ailing and aged, lives in Goa. He recalls why he made Albert Pinto, “My film was on clash of identities. One identity was that of a middle class Christian boy who is confused of his identity and thinks his father has no identity of his own. Another identity is of his father, a mill worker who is not bothered about his individual identity as he has joined a bigger identity as a mill worker for the nation. At the end of the day, the young boy Albert joins his father as he now understands that a bigger identity is better than an individual one.

The stereotypical lives of Goan Christians who were among mill workers had a tale of their own, which needed to be told.” Interestingly while Shabana refuses to talk about the film as “the version is completely different”, Naseeruddin Shah has a unique take on the old film that received a National

Award and Critics Choice Award too. An art house cinema, the film leaves him with a strange feeling. He says, “It was a classic only as far as its title is concerned - that rolled off everyone’s tongue and is still remembered but no one saw it when it released! I found a terrible DVD copy and saw it again some years ago and I was largely unimpressed. It is a well intentioned but rather shoddily made film and some of the performances are downright grotesque.

Shabana, Smita and I look out of place. We were all miscast and were poorly directed on top of it. I haven’t seen the remake and probably wouldn’t care to.” The film, made with crowd funding and borrowings from friends in which actors have worked for free, releases on April 12.

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