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Having the book on the set

Posted at 5:09 PM on June 16, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Chatterjee and Gavron

"Brick Lane" director Sarah Gavron and her lead actor Tannishtha Chatterjee admit to some strange behavior during their collaboration: they had a copy of Monica Ali's book on the set. It's the story of two sisters from a Bangladeshi village who are parted when the older girl Nazneen is sent to London in an arranged marriage.

Chatterjee who plays Nazneen and Gavron says they consulted the novel regularly.

"It became sort of like a bible. Yes we did," says Gavron.

Part of the complication was the script needed to be pared back to make the film. Gavron says they had to lose some of the sub-plots and concentrate on one of two sisters in the novel. They had a good script she says, but they also did a great deal of improvisation, and that, says Chatterjee, is where it was handy to have the novel around.

"We would go back to the book all the time," she says. "Some times Satish (Kaushik who plays Nazneen's husband) and I would come back after a days shoot and I would call Sarah in the morning and say, "You know Sarah, that is a very important thing for her character, we should also have this." she laughs.

"Some times the book is wonderful as a reference point because it gives you an indepth understanding of the character and the complexities. And sometimes it gives you so much that you want to put everything that's there, and that's where I guess Sarah came in and said 'OK, keep that in mind and in the background, but that's our scene!" referring to the script.

'The old adage that a book is a book and a film is a film is certainly true," Gavron says. "And you do endlessly have to find cinematic equivalents for the literary prose, and so it is important in some ways to leave the book behind. "

"Brick Lane" opens in the Twin Cities in July.

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