Movie & Myth

Meet Anup Singh, the man behind Qissa and now The Song of the Scorpions

12/11/2017 5:01:53 PM
written By : NIthya Subramanian Print

Geneva-based film maker Anup Singh’s latest feature film The Song of Scorpions was one of the Special Presentation films at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) 2017.

Featuring Irrfan Khan and veteran Indian actress Waheeda Rehman and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, the movie is based on the ancient myth that the sting of a scorpion can be cured with a song sung by a scorpion singer which counters the poison of the scorpion.

Here are exclusive excerpts of an interview with Anup Singh.

India Se: Tell us a little about the film? What drew you to this Rajasthani folklore?

Anup Singh: I started conceptualising this film after the 2012 Delhi gang rape. After that incident, like so many others, I felt my spirit was poisoned and I could not believe that there was so much brutality and inhumanity in people. I was haunted by that, but repressed these feelings. Only a year later, after I had finished filming for another job, out of exhaustion, did all the images of The Song of Scorpions start to formulate in my head, and that was how I put the story together.

India Se: How did you go about choosing the cast and why did you opt for an Iranian actress? What was it like working with Irrfan Khan and Waheeda Rehman who are both very seasoned artists?

Anup Singh: I started working together with Irrfan Khan on another film, Qissa. When I first started writing the script of The Song of Scorpions, I had already named the character as Irrfan. There is something about him that is completely without deceit, and he is someone who does not hide what he feels. He is also an actor who is willing to explore the uncertainty of films and constantly looks to make a film better. 

As for Golshifteh Farahani, we selected her when we started casting in India. During that period, we were location-hunting in the desert for the film and I saw something incredible. It was a young deer that could hardly walk. Its whole body was quivering while walking but all of a sudden, it bolted and ran away. That was when we knew that the character, Nooran, had to be like the deer – someone full of life and with the immense capacity to think about what is going on around her. Irrfan and I had met Golshifteh during the screening of Qissa in Abu Dhabi. We spent a couple of days talking about cinema and acting. We also talked about the film and it was then that Irrfan and I realised she would be best suited to play Nooran. Golshifteh is also a person that lives in exile, and is in constant pain of being separated from her family.

Waheeda Rehman had retired and had not been doing films for almost seven years. However, I decided to share the role with her and managed to convince her that she was the one for it. With Waheeda’s presence, the set became a place that brings people together. Though Waheeda is already 80 years old, she is always one of the first few people with the hair, makeup and wardrobe to be ready on set. Golshifteh and Waheeda also behave like a real grandma and granddaughter.

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