Director Victor Mukherjee uses animal-human bond to deliver social message in 'Lakadbaggha'

Director Victor Mukherjee adapts the popular theme of the animal-human bond in his debut film Lakadbaggha to deliver a social message

Published: 29th January 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th January 2023 12:41 PM   |  A+A-

Victor Mukherjee

Director Victor Mukherjee.

Express News Service

There have been numerous films with animals as one of the leads. There’s the iconic Hachiko. Then there is Turner & Hooch. Closer home, we have had Haathi Mere Saathi and the more recent 777 Charlie—all heartwarming tales about the animal-human bond.

The latest in the list is filmmaker Victor Mukherjee’s Lakadbaggha, which revisits the familiar trope, but with a fresh lens. It is an action-packed social drama with, as is evident from the title, a hyena at its centre.

The film, which hit the theatres on January 13, sees a children’s martial arts trainer, played by actor-producer Anshuman Jha, moonlighting as an animal-loving vigilante, punishing those who ill-treat street dogs. The plot follows his search for a striped hyena as he uncovers an illegal animal trade functioning out of the Kolkata port.

The idea for the film, the director reveals, first struck him about two years ago when he was travelling through Arunachal Pradesh with Jha to shoot the travel series, Sifar. An impromptu brainstorming session and a shared love for animals resulted in a rough draft of the film.

“He (Jha) told me a story and a scene, and I shared my idea for an action film about a vigilante for animals. We mixed our ideas, and came up with Lakadbaggha,” says Mukherjee, who has been fascinated with hyenas since he watched Shenzi, Banzai and Ed in The Lion King.

A poster of Lakadbaggha

The skeleton of a concept began taking shape once the film’s creative team, during its research, learnt about a striped hyena that appeared at the Jim Corbett National Park in 2014. “That is when we decided to include the hyena in the universe of our film,” says Mumbai-based Mukherjee, who has previously directed Love, Lust and Confusion, and Babbar Ka Tabbar, both comedies for the web.

The director, who grew up in Kolkata, further sculpted the idea with plotlines inspired from the true-crime stories he had voraciously devoured over the years. For instance, he recalls, “In 2018, during Durga Puja, there was a furore about how butcher shops were selling dog meat in order to meet the high demand during the festival, resulting in cops raiding the shops. We thought the idea suited the premise of the film. It was also one of the reasons why we chose Kolkata as the backdrop.”

VFX by WhiteApple Studios were used to create the hyena onscreen.

“People asked me if we shot with a real hyena,” says Mukherjee. While the stunts were directed by Kecha Khamphakdee of Baahubali 2 fame, Jha’s martial arts sequences were choreographed by Vicky Arora who has previously worked in films such as RRR and Uri: The Surgical Strike.

Unlike most directors, who often wait to feature big names in their debut films to give their project a heft, Mukherjee decided to cast actors who were more suited for the roles than their star power. Besides Jha, the film also features Milind Soman as his father and marks the debut of TV actor Riddhi Dogra, who plays a cop.

“If you keep waiting for dates of stars with grandeur, you will get into the grind and not do something different,” says Mukherjee, whose next film, Expiry Date, is a romantic tragedy starring Manav Kaul, and is expected to hit the floors in June this year.

India Matters


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