Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘Interview

By Subhash K. Jha, January 4, 2010 – 14:18 IST

Chetan Bhagat Those multitudes who have read Chetan Bhagat’s book novel Five Point Someone would agree there are uncanny resemblances between the novel and Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The film apparently set out to adapt Bhagat’s novel and then decided to go its own way, for whatever reason. Chetan Bhagat shouts foul as he finds his name missing from the opening credits of 3 Idiots, instead they are in the rolling credits in the end. On the other hand, the producers of the film claim that it was mentioned in the contract that Chetan had signed. Hurt and amused Chetan reacts.

You must be very upset by the latest proceedings?
You’re a writer. You should know how it feels to have credit taken away from you. And it’s not something only I’m saying. It’s out there. The book is there. The film is there. They’ve tried to take away from my contribution. My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers. From the time they started making the film, they’ve been stressing that their product is different. It’s like a systematic effort (to underplay my contribution). If you read the book and saw the film, you’ll see the similarities.

My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers

So would you say 3 Idiots is an adaptation of your novel?
3 Idiots is a total adaptation of my book. Some things are direct lifts, others indirect adaptations.

Aamir thinks you are trying to take away credit from the film’s writer Abhijat Joshi?
I heard his comments. But then he says he hasn’t read the book. There’s no denying Abhijat has done the screenplay. What Abhijat has done with my book can only be known if you’ve read it. If Aamir is so concerned about Abhijat not getting the publicity, he should let Abhijat talk. I very much respect Aamir. He’s the reason I thought the project would have a lot of integrity. I know for a fact he was told not to read my book because they told him it’d affect his understanding of his story. I was told it was a different script.

Even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega?

How would Aamir’s perception have been affected if he read the book?
I don’t know. I’m on a firm footing with the facts. See the film, read the book. And judge for yourself. The whole plot-structure narrative, even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega? I mention 42 exams and 16 broken bones in my body. They have kept the same numbers in the film. Kareena’s brother committing suicide on the railway tracks…so many other things in the film; it’s all there in my novel.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir have accused you of trying to make mileage out of their movie?
If I didn’t take up the issue properly, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. If someone else goes and collects the award for best story at the awards functions how will I feel? Only once I met Aamir. When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set. The book has been selling for six years. There’re lakhs of fans of the book. It’s not about Chetan being naraaz and Aamir being naraaz. My issue is not with Aamir. When the other film Hello based on my novel One Night At The Call Centre came, did I say one word against the characterizations or treatment? I was credited properly for that. I haven’t been credited for 3 Idiots.

When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set.

Have you become embittered towards Bollywood?
You could make up any kind of contract. But is there any contract that stops people from being petty? My last novel Three Mistakes Of My Life is being directed by Abhishek Kapoor. I am co-scripting it. There’s a lot of interest in adapting my latest novel 2 States: The Story Of My Life. I don’t think there would be any problem with future project. With 3 Idiots, I know I’m in the right. I’m just telling people to see the film and read my book. I know Aamir is a very powerful person. But finally the truth has to prevail, no? I’m no great artiste. But there has to be fair play. I’m being accused of trying to get mileage.10 lakh copies of the book have been sold. The book has been read by 1 crore readers. Wouldn’t they know the truth?

Chetan Bhagat What do you intend to do?
The makers of 3 Idiots are busy with their victory tours all over the country. They’re naturally being asked about the similarities between my book and the film. Sorry I spoilt their celebrations. The truth had to be told. I’ve been told by them, ‘You’re just a writer. You don’t realize how big we are.’ Maybe I don’t realize how big they are. Main kya karoon? But the truth is above everything. Aisa nahin ke pura Bollywood kharaab hai.

Do you think you’ll be ostracized by Bollywood after this incident?
I’m not dependent on Bollywood for my livelihood. I’m a big Krishna bhakt. I’ll follow the right path. If I’m wrong I’ll leave writing and join ISKCON. What does a writer want? That his words should make a change in society. Maybe by taking up this issue I hope to bring about a change in the way writers are treated. Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

What do you hope to achieve?
When they go to pick up the story award I want people to know whose story it is. When they make eye contact with their children they should know they’re lying. We’ve to show that truth comes before everything else. I don’t write for money or glamour. I just need paper and pen. Lord Krishna takes care of the rest.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

YAHOO.COM (January 2, 2010)

Mumbai, Jan 2 (IANS) Director Rajkumar Hirani Saturday produced the credits agreement with author Chetan Bhagat for hit film ‘3 Idiots’ and maintained that the movie was not a copy of the bestseller ‘Five Point Someone’.

Hirani distributed copies of an agreement of credit and a non-disclosure agreement signed by Bhagat Sep 1, 2005 and Oct 3, 2007 respectively. Screenplay writer Abhijat Joshi was also present at the media meet.

‘It shall be obligatory on the part of the producer to accord credit to the author in the rolling credits… as under – Based on the novel ‘Five Point Someone’,’ the agreement on the issue of credit states.

The non-disclosure agreement was signed after Hirani gave a ‘four-hour narration’ of the final script to Bhagat, the director said.

Hirani also supported his argument by giving a copy of an interview that Bhagat gave to IANS Sep 26, 2008 titled: ‘I liked the final script of ‘Three Idiots’: Chetan Bhagat.’

‘The director took my book as the base but he has changed it according to his requirements. He took permission from me before taking my story but has not involved me in making it into the final script. But he has shown me the final script and I have liked it too,’ Bhagat had told IANS.

The credit row surfaced after Bhagat had posted on his blog that ’70 percent’ of ‘3 Idiots’ is based on his book and therefore he should have got a prominent place in the rolling credits as well as during the film promotion. He also said that he was not shown the final script.

Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra has said that as per their agreement, Bhagat’s name appeared in the rolling credits and he was paid the due amount.

Hirani, who has helmed movies like ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ and ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’, also pointed out that the producer had bought the rights of ‘Five Point Someone’.

Hence, it was their prerogative whether to use ‘five percent of the book or 70 percent of it’.

HITLIST (Mid-Day; January 1, 2010)

The writer has plenty to say about the movie being touted as being different from his book Five Point Someone

Chetan Bhagat is peeved that he has not been given his due credit in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The film is based on his novel Five Point Someone. The writer has vented his ire ‘A book, a film and the truth’ on his blog (http://www.chetanbhagat.com/).

Here’s an extract….

“The 3 Idiots story credit issue has been making some noise now… and I think it is important I clarify a few things. Clearly, the makers of the film have been unfair and thousands of my readers have been saying so.This is not an issue that has ‘just come up’. I’ve been grappling with it for two years, but kept silent about it.

Wrong claims

The only reason it has surfaced after the movie’s release is because Five Point Someone has a few million readers, and when you copy a popular story claiming it as ‘original’ and ‘completely different’, people are going to find out.

The case is as simple as the makers claiming the story as their own, and clearly it is not. Pre-release, the makers made  statements like  the movie is only ‘very loosely’ inspired by the book….

After release, those who have read the book and seen the movie (and frankly, I think those are the only people who have the right to comment) find the film to be an adaptation of Five Point Someone. Almost all aspects that make up the story are from FPS. Yes, there are some changes, any adaptation requires that — but it is no way an original story. Leading movie critics have privately admitted to me that the film is 70 per cent the book. Still, don’t take my word for it — go read the book, watch the film.

I, frankly, was shocked to see this. This is because I was also fed ‘this is an original movie’ line a lot. I wanted to see the final script — it was never shown to me. I wanted to see the film before release — it was not shown to me (even though trials had been done for  people).  What’s more, the makers had called me to their office and pressured me several times to withdraw my ‘Based on a novel by’ credit, which was by contract. They told me they’d replace it with something like ‘initiated by’ — a credit that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. I still told them that if the film is indeed original, I’ll happily withdraw the credit, but somehow the promos don’t tell me so. I asked them to show me the film and they fell silent.

Soon, they started doing media promotions for the film, and kept me completely out of it (you’ll never find me in an interview with them). Crores was poured into publicity on shutting me out and cementing the fact that 3 Idiots is not based on Five Point Someone. Ten days before the release, I was called into their office. They said ‘we should be friends now’. I said I am always up for friendship, and the success of the film is good for me as well. They also said, and I quote verbatim ‘even though this is an original film, we have given you a great credit, right upfront. After all, we love writers and a king should treat another king with respect. You are family’. I believed them.

Then I went for the premiere. My family sat in the theatre shocked, as sequence after sequence came from the book. Two per cent means three minutes or so, and I had told my family to look for the few FPS moments and note them. However, there were so many that it became impossible to keep track. The plot was same — people meet at ragging, the first class with definition of machine, the friends separate, Alok (Raju) moves with Venkat (Chatur), Ryan (Rancho) helps Alok’s father, Alok rejoins group, etc, etc. From Alok  (Raju) jumping to stealing the papers and calling out from Cherian (Virus’) office — the book came alive on screen.

However, my family had not spotted my credit in the beginning (there was none) and they were feeling let down. A screenplay associate credit to VVC had a prominent upfront placement. The story credit was not shared with me. And yes, all the office talk of a ‘king treated like king’ was a white lie. I knew they had played with me, and that ‘based on a novel by’ credit, which they were legally bound to give would be hushed away at the end — with the clear intention of making sure people miss it. And indeed, it came after the junior artistes and still photographer of the movie. My mother missed seeing my name, and for that she cried after seeing the film. I told her it doesn’t matter, as people know FPS. But yes, that hurt me a lot.”

The Other Side
3 Idiots director Rajkumar Hirani, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopta and actor Aamir Khan preferred not to comment.

LOOKING AHEAD: Neha Dhupia
Neha Dhupia reveals her filmi fundas in a candid chat with BT

HARSHADA REGE (BOMBAY TIMES; December 2, 2009)

You have been a part of many multi-starrers, is that a formula for success?
If there was a formula for success I would pay pots and pots of money and buy it (laughs). But seriously, I feel that while choosing your films, all one needs to do is follow your gut feeling and have faith in the project.

You tried your hand at some unconventional stuff with Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, Mithya and Dasvianiya. What kind of response did you get for them? And are you going to be part of more such films?
I have got a fabulous response for all the different cinema that I have attempted, and am looking forward to a lot more in the future. My film Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi? just won the viewers choice award at a film festival. That will be my next release after De Dana Dan. I agree it’s a mixed bag, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

How important are hits to you?
While making a film we put in a lot of hardwork, and the only way it gets appreciated is when the audience views it and it becomes a hit… unless the critics are really kind (laughs).

After doing realistic and masala movies, do you want to see yourself doing an absolute rom-com kind of movie?
Yes, I would love to, I am screaming out loud that is my most favourite genre. I hope someone’s listening. But on a serious note, I have done one that’s in the same space… it’s called Pappu Can’t Dance Saala and will be releasing soon.

You and boyfriend Ritwik Bhattacharya have been going steady for some time now. So, are wedding bells in the offing?
Not at all!
Vivek Oberoi on love, life and a fresh innings in Bollywood

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 27, 2009)


• You have got some good reviews for your role in Kurbaan.

Yes. I have not stopped smiling since the film’s release. At one of the trials, Bebo (Kareena Kapoor) and Saif (Ali Khan) did tell me that I was good in the film. Then Karan (Johar) and Rensil (D’Silva)also told me the same thing. I had not seen the film till then as I was shooting in Hyderabad. It was a nice feeling when Karan told me ‘finally you make me proud.’ I saw the film just a day before its release and I had knots in my stomach. I was very nervous but I was with people who have always been kind to me. There were Shah Rukh and Gauri, Imran and his fiancée Avantika, Yash uncle, Davidji (Dhawan). They all hugged me and said I was good.

• Why have you not done a romantic film after Saathiya?

Honestly, I really don’t know. Kurbaan has got a romantic track but Mission Istanbul and Shootout At Lokhandwala had zero romance. I have not done an out-and-out romantic film and I am really looking forward to doing one.

• People are saying that you have changed and that you want to leave the controversies behind and concentrate only on your work.

I wanted this for a really long time. However, after Shootout… things did not fall in place. Almost four years ago, when I did Omkara, I saw Saif getting under the skin of the character Langda Tyagi. I loved the work ethics. That’s when I thought that I should stop doing what I was doing, but I had a backlog to finish. Then my close friend Amit Chandra sat me down and helped me streamline my life so that I could practically achieve what I was trying to. Now, I have learnt not to take anything for granted.

• How did Ramu and you patch up?

I don’t think patch up is the right word as we were never at loggerheads. I will never have the audacity to say anything against Ramu and as an artiste, I will always be indebted to him for giving me Company. But when he called me and told me ‘I will never work with you again’, I was shocked. Now, when he called me and said that he had something for me, I was so happy. When I met him, he said that he could see the same passion in my eyes again and gave me Rakta Charitra. I felt exactly the same on the first day of Rakta Charitra that I felt on the first day on the sets of Company. Ramu made me feel so comfortable.

• You have done some amazing stunts in Prince, something which you are not known for.

Yes. Kookie Gulati is quite a whiz kid. I did so many things that I cannot possibly explain — right from learning how to skateboard, doing parkour, learning cable work, to action training. I had to put so many things into my system that after the training session, things became easier.

• You have said that you are done with apologising to people.

I made a mistake and it is human to make mistakes. Personally, I think it’s humbling and it’s also building character to stand up and say I made a mistake and please forgive me. It is always an ego-based thing to say that why should I apologise. It is a real man who can say ‘I am sorry’ and that too in public. I have said sorry to the assistant director whom I was rude to, I have said sorry to the movie star whom I had a fight with and I even said sorry to the director I snapped at.

Aamir Khan may be the most powerful man in Bollywood today giving successive hits as actor, producer and director but his eyes still gleam with unexpected animation as he sits down to do an interview. Here he is, candid and uncut

By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 20, 2009)


• In 3 Idiots you play a guy from 20 to 24 years, while you are actually 44. How old are you in your head?

I still imagine myself to be 18 or 22. The other day I was at the birthday of someone who I had always thought of as older than me in my head, an uncle type person. I asked him, how old he was that day and he said 30 and I got a shock because suddenly I realised that I was 14 years older than him. I am, of course, 44, which is middle-aged, but somewhere in my head I am lost in the 18-20 age group.

 

• Did that help you play this character?

No. But given that it is necessary to get into the head of a character when you are jumping age lines, it gets more challenging. Jumping age lines, jumping accents, or jumping sexes like my playing a woman is always tough. I had actually told Raju to take someone younger but he insisted he could see me in the role. He said, “In real life, you are so close to Rancho, (the character that I am playing) I feel if you are saying what Rancho is saying people will believe it. What Rancho says is the philosophy of the film and I need someone who people will believe in.”

• You exude a lot of confidence on screen. Are you really a very confident person inside?

I think I am average, in the sense that most people are confident to a certain degree, people go through self doubt. I too go through self doubt. I am given to thinking, “Am I doing the right thing?” I only do things that I enjoy, that’s my first rule. I must be happy in what I am doing. If I am not happy doing an ad, I won’t do it. I don’t do it for commercial reasons. Yes of course I am earning money while I am doing it, but that’s not the core reason for doing it. This ultimately shows in my work, otherwise I am as confident or diffident as the next man. I also need reassurance like everyone else. I also need people to say “I liked your film”.

• When you were directing yourself in Taare Zameen Par was there anything about you as an actor that disturbed you as a director?

I have to say no. The actor and director in me saw eye to eye. Yes, when I see the film today, there are moments where I feel the scene could have been pitched differently. But that is in retrospect. That’s the corrective process in me when I am watching any of my work.

• In hindsight which of your successful films needed the most correction?






One of them would be Fanaa, the other would be Ishq, both highly successful films. In the first half of Fanaa, the character was pitched too filmy. I would have pitched him slightly different. In fact, Kunal (Kohli) and I had a long discussion about it. I would have made the character more real and more layered because as human beings we don’t have a singular emotion. When I am playing a character my attempt is that it should not be single dimensional, it should be layered. Ishq again had a lot of broad strokes and it’s also a very successful film.

• As a director do you have an actor wish list?

I am not sure whether I am thinking as a director right now. I think at heart I am still an actor. Of course now that I have taken the first step and directed one film, I am more open to listening to stories. Actually I have a very strange answer. While I am not in the mood of a director just now the opposite is also true. I think like a filmmaker. Coming back to your question, my wish list would really depend upon what the script is. So my casting would really be based on who can best play a certain part and who will suit the role. Each and every person connected to the film should feel that he is in love with it.

• Does success isolate you?

Success can be extremely isolating. And often, for multiple reasons. When you are successful, a celebrity, especially an actor, your stardom is like a magnet. It’s like the sun. (In fact, I wonder who coined this term ‘star’. Because every star is actually a sun). Because you are a star, every one is attracted to you for different reasons, some valid, some invalid. Some honourable, some not so honourable. But, as a human being our bandwidth is limited. So often what happens is that we need to shut off. It is humanly impossible to deal with so many things.

Have you noticed that stars, never make eye-contact when they are out in public. The moment you make eye-contact, you have to engage. And it’s not that we don’t like engaging. I love engaging with people. But I get tired. How many people can I engage with? That’s the nature of the beast. That’s the nature of my profession.

You have been reportedly meeting people you met on social networking sites. Does engaging with them help you perform in some way?

Now people know that it’s me on the blog, but there was a time when they didn’t. The idea behind it was to interact with strangers. Because the minute a person knows who I am, he reacts to me in a particular way. He may or may not share certain ideas with me. Or the attitude of sharing will change. The fiber of the communication will change. But if the person doesn’t know who I am, which the Internet allows, then he’s freer. That was the kind of interaction I valued a lot. There were a few people who I found to be particularly engaging. Or unusual. And those were the few people to whom I revealed who I am.

If I felt that I had a certain rapport with someone, then I no longer felt comfortable hiding, or lying about who I am. If I have reached a level of engagement of this kind, I need to tell the person who I am. So then it happened that I took three-four people into confidence.

• Since you have just completed 3 Idiots with Raju Hirani, the director of the Munnabhai series, tell me an instant recall of a Munnabhai moment?

I would say jaadu ki jhappi. That’s my big recall moment from Munnabhai. Both, Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai are my favourite films in the last five-seven odd years. They are great wholesome entertainment, which connect with you on a human level. Really connect with you on a human level.

Going back to one of your earlier questions, one of the key reasons for me doing this film, despite the fact that I am double the age of the character is Raju. I was so keen to work with Raju and I could see that Raju was excited about casting me in the film. Iske saath mereko film karne hain yaar. Agar isko lagta hain main bees saal ka ho jaata hoon toh main ho jaata hoon. Kyunki ye itna kamaal ka director hai, iske saath mereko kaam karna hain yaar.

Over the years all my professional decisions have been absurd. Its absolutely right for someone to tell me – ke tu 42 ka hain aur tu 22 ka character play kar raha hain. It may be an idiotic decision but all my decisions are idiotic. 3 idiots ka idiotic decision.

When I told anyone that I was making a film on dyslexia, they said I was mad.

When I signed Rang De Basanti, usse pehle Bhagat Singh aur Azad Singh par char filmey aa chuki thi. It was a crazy decision. My sister called me up in the evening and asked, “What are you doing?” I told her I signed a film, it’s the fifth remake of Bhagat Singh.She started laughing. She said abhi flop hui hain chauthi, aur tum paanchvi karoge. It was a bizarre decision.

Lagaan is another example. Today it is known as successful film but at that time it was a disastrous decision. None of my decisions have been practical.

How easy or difficult it is to forgive past mistakes?

Earlier, I was much more unforgiving as a person; not only towards others but also towards myself. I was extremely unforgiving of my own mistakes. In the past four or five years, I have undergone a change as a human being. I have become more forgiving of myself and others. I see it as a very positive change in myself. One of the powerful things in the world is the power of forgiveness. Its what Jesus Christ and other great philosophers have said.

Also, forgiveness comes with the genuineness of the person’s intentions. If someone has done something to hurt me and then comes and says, “Sorry Aamir”, but does not feel it, then forgiveness does not come into the picture. But if a person genuinely feels ki usse galti hui hai, then you should forgive him. It’s the same for yourself, if you realise that you’ve done some wrong, you should forgive yourself. It’s one of the most healing things.

Today we have become very unforgiving people. It may be an ethnic problem, or a community’s problem or a country’s, or in your relationships, with your wife, children, parents, we get very very unforgiving and we hold that against them. We wear it as a badge which says ‘main tujhe kabhi maaf nahi karoonga’.

I used to be like this.

Like two peas in a pod

Sometime ago we had asked Imran Khan to rate himself and Aamir on a scale of 1 to 10, according to a few parameters…

Aamir rates Imran according to the same parameters…

 

Good looks

Aamir – I won’t rate myself as I don’t like it. Imran is exceedingly good looking. I’d give him a 9.
Imran – I would put us both at a 7 at this point just because of how young and great he is looking

Patience

Aamir on Imran-
8 or 9
Imran – Aamir is a 10 and I am 9.5. We are both tremendously patient people. Again because I’m younger, I’m that 0.5 percent less patient but I am the supremely patient being that you’ll meet

Quest for perfection

Aamir on Imran- He is extremely committed so 8
Imran – Aamir is a 10, I’m probably an 8

Spontaneity

Aamir on Imran- 8
Imran – Aamir is 6, I’m a 7

Acting talent

Aamir on Imran – 6. He is good but he has a long way to go.
Imran – I put myself at a 6, I put him at a 10. I so honestly think he is the best actor in the country today

Communication skills

Aamir on Imran – 4
Imran – Mine aren’t too good. I’m not good at all, so 5 for me and him I don’t know, maybe a 7. Yeah he is better than me.

Charm

Aamir on Imran – 8
Imran – I am more charming than he is definitely; he is not a charming person. He is 5. I’m an 8.

Tendency to lose temper

Aamir – We lose our temper, but we can handle it. We don’t react. So, I would give him a 2.
Imran – One and one

Fidelity to spouse or girlfriend

Aamir – He is scoring a 100 on that one right now. So 10.
Imran – That’s a 10 for both. We are both very staid, solid guys.

3 Idiots

Raju Hirani aka the creator of Munnabhai is not a wildly funny man though he is given to fairly frequent bouts of laughter. At the moment, he is completely immersed in the editing of 3 Idiots; while doing so he enters that world and actually forgets the real world, he says. We drag him back to answer some questions
By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 09, 2009)
Say something Munnabhaiesque

No tension. Apun hai na. (laughs)When making Lage Raho Munnabhai did the success of Munnabhai MBBS put any pressure on you and is a similar pressure delaying the next in the Munnabhai series?

An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at 3 Idiots, which is one of the most awaited films of the year. Director Raju Hirani has a discussion with Aamir Khan and Madhavan on the sets of the film


It’s actually how you look at it. I have never looked at it as pressure from any quarter. If at all, it’s me who keeps pressurising me and that bogs me down. I actually work too hard on my scripts. I keep asking myself, “Is it good enough?” I’m not usually worried about what somebody else is going to say. You need to feel very happy about what you are doing. If you are not happy, then there is pressure.

We (Vinod Chopra and me) are not trying to cash in on the success of the two Munnabhai films. If we were doing that then we would make one Munnabhai every year. We would have Munnabhai cartoons, comics and animation. We could actually milk the brand in that sense. The reason for not actually making another one is because I am working on the script and I am not happy with the final script which is also what happened with Lage Raho Munnabhai. I took so many years to make it because I wasn’t too happy with it.

You have to strive to think of a unique idea and sometimes, for that, you have to keep waiting till it strikes you. With Munnabhai Chale Amrika, I have reached a stage where I have found a completely unique idea. It is not a ‘fish out of water’ situation in which two characters go from this world to that world. That’s done to death. It’s not as simplistic as that. It’s much funnier and much deeper.

How does a comic scene evolve?

It’s not about evolving a comic scene or a dramatic scene. You just do whatever the story needs. I work with Abhijat Joshi and we completely go by the gut feel of the scene. If it is a comic scene and when I am narrating, we look into each other’s eyes and if it makes us laugh, then that is a scene that is working. And when it is an emotional scene, our eyes get wet. So it’s completely from within, rather than structuring it, or trying to manipulate it.

You have worked with an intelligent actor like Aamir Khan (3 Idiots) and a less structured actor like Sanjay Dutt. How is your approach different with actors?

Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) is completely an instinctive actor. If I ask him for a rehearsal, he will look into my eyes and say “What? You want to rehearse one month in advance?” which is completely impossible. And I know if I make him do that, he will come prepared and will fail miserably. But if I ask him to do something impromptu, he does it the way you want it. If I think it’s not right, then he will instinctively do it another way. Then there is Boman Irani, who, if I don’t rehearse with, will die on the sets. So he has to be prepared a month in advance. Like when he was playing Lucky Singh, I had to take him to meet some Sardarjis, he had to sit with them, he had to drink with them, he had to observe them, video shoot them. Arshad was completely given the lines, he got the gist and modified them. If I tell him to follow the lines as given, he will not be able to do so. So with every actor, you have to realise his strength and utilise it. Like Aamir loves to get involved with the script, he analyses the script, he prepares a lot. There is a completely different joy in working with Aamir.

But that’s the job of a director. When you work with Boman, as you enter the set, you have to go to his van and hold his hand and talk to him for 10-15 minutes every day, otherwise he feels neglected. I may not do the same with Aamir. I know he has rehearsed and understood the script and he will come on the sets and perform. Actually direction is also about human resource management.

What happens when there are three very individualistic people like you, Vinod Chopra (as producer) and Aamir Khan involved with a film. Do sparks fly?

It works like magic. Vinod is a great producer. He takes care of a lot of the producer’s problems, so that’s an area I don’t have to worry about. Actually, in the last two films I used to get involved in the production too. This time, I am running out of time, I am locked up here editing while he is taking care of marketing, and distribution. Aamir says he is good at marketing, and somebody else is good at distribution, so everybody is doing their defined roles.

How true are you keeping 3 Idiots to the book by Chetan Bhagat Five Point Someone?

3 Idiots is inspired from the book but it is completely different. I would say just five per cent of it is the same. Books and films are different. So the moment you decide to pick up a book and make a film as it is, it will be a disaster. It’s a nice book, but it’s anecdotal and films can’t be anecdotal. It has to have a story. The reason I mention this is because people should not go to the theatre thinking, we are going to watch Five Point Someone and later find out that it’s a completely different film.

When you get stuck with your writing, what do you reference for inspiration?

I actually don’t go back to films or even books as reference points. If we get stuck when writing, we keep prodding at it and don’t move ahead. Abhijat and I do very stupid things if we get stuck at something. We move out of the house for a walk and tell ourselves that we won’t return till we get a solution. There have been times when we haven’t returned till five in the morning and 99 per cent of the time, we have cracked it. We could be sitting at Bandstand at 4am and are just about to go back, suddenly one of us will say, “Lets try for three more minutes” and in those three minutes we will generally get a spark of an idea. We actually work for 16-18 hours everyday on the script. Abhijat stays in the US, I work through the day and send him an email. He works through the night and sends me an email. We completely work like maniacs. We do stupid things. Like once we stopped at a signal thinking over a scene and we didn’t realise that we had stopped there for 20 minutes. Mostly we pick up stories from our life.


Raju Hirani’s favourite five films

Raju Hirani

1) Pyaasa. It’s one of Guru Dutt’s finest works.

2) Anand for the kind of story that it is – a dying man still trying to live a great life.

3) One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is one of my favourite films. I love stories where you fight against the system for your rights. That’s what came through in Munnabhai too.

4) Amol Palekar’s Golmaal. It’s a funny film. The whole idea of making a film revolving around a moustache is a unique idea.

5) Lagaan again for its unique idea. For me Lagaan fits the bill of, theoretically speaking, a perfect script.

GETTING REAL: Ashuu Trikha
..says director Ashuu Trikha in a candid chat with BT

AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE (BOMBAY TIMES; September 8, 2009)


Ashu Trikha believes in following his dreams, even if that means waiting for three years to realise them. Not the one to follow a beaten path, the director, who’s also directed Alag, is back with another hatke film, this time based on the crime scene in Central India. Titled Baabarr, the film marks the debut of newcomer Soham along with actress Urvashi Sharma and also stars stalwarts like Mithun Chakraborthy, Om Puri, Tinnu Anand and Sushant Singh. Here, the filmmaker talks about his crime caper.

Baabarr is based on real-life incidents. What made you choose such a hard-hitting subject?
• The entire fact that such incidents have happened and continue to happen even today, and that the characters depicted in the film really do exist, is a matter of great shame for any society. It was something that I felt about very strongly.

You tried to deal with the film in realistic manner…
• Yes, because the film required it. Baabarr is a stark film, not for the fainthearted. A lot of research has gone into it. And during that, we realised that to get the right feel, it was important to keep the backdrop as natural as possible. So whether it’s shooting on rough terrain or in real locations or with real country made revolvers, we have tried to present reality in the truest form.
Your last few films have all been very different. Weren’t you wary of taking a risk with such a serious film on crime?
• Every film is a risk. The only thing in our hands is to make a film sincerely and with all honesty.
On the one hand you have a newcomer Soham and on the other hand you have stalwarts like Om Puri and Mithun Chakraborthy…
• Yes. And I felt like I’m having the best of both the worlds. There was raw talent waiting to be honed and there was a sea of experience waiting to be tapped. Omji and Mithunda are some of the finest actors to date, while Soham has the spark and is spectacularly good as a debutante.

Do you think a film so real is commercially viable?
• Absolutely. The film is not a documentary. It has its light moments, there are songs and dances too, but none of them have been forcibly included. So, it’s very much a hard-core commercial film, but with it’s sensibilities rooted in realism.

What was the most challenging thing about shooting for the film?
• Shooting in the kind of conditions that we did was challenging. Because unlike shooting in a studio which is quite a controlled environment, shooting in rough terrain is physically very demanding.

What’s the message you want your audiences to take home after watching the film?
• I don’t want to preach anything through my film. I only want them to question where we are headed as a society.

(Contributed by AKNS and Harshada Rege)
Sharmila Tagore has just done her first Marathi film Samantar, opposite Amol Palekar. She talks about her occasional foray into acting and lists her most memorable roles
By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 01, 2009)
What tempts you to do a film?

When I got married way back in 1968, my decision was to cut down on films but never give up. The very act of getting married means that you are not alone, you are taking on a family. In those days it could take two-three years to make a film. Now, we work on one film at a time, which is the ideal way to work. That’s how regional films are made.

I am turned on by a good script and a good role and I don’t judge a good role by its length. When you start doing character roles, it gives you a liberating feeling because you are no longer victim to looking good and you can then freely be the character.

I would love to do those characters with today’s directors like Vishal Bharadwaj or Raju Hirani. Imtiaz Ali obviously makes films about two young people in love but if he ever has a role for elderly people I would love to do it.Samantar offered all this?

In Samantar, although my character, Shama, is a recluse, she doesn’t go by social compulsions but by natural compulsions which is about being herself. Being herself means gardening, being close to nature, she creates beautiful pottery, she plays the violin. But in the company of people she isn’t herself. I chose this role because it is not a very verbose character so there is minimal dialogue except that I do have a three-page soliloquy.

Amol is a very sensitive director, and there is beautiful camera work, beautiful locations, and very competent and talented actors who play the smaller supporting characters. We shot at this place called Kalna which even the Bengali directors haven’t discovered. It’s a place of archeological importance. It’s a terracotta Shiv temple dating back 300 years, it has 108 Shivlings white and black.

The music by Anand Modak is excellent, Shomit’s lyrics are excellent.

Sharmila in Samantar

Why did it take you so long to take on a Marathi film?

Because nobody asked me so far. Amol was the first one who came with a Marathi proposal. I have been seeing Shashikalaji’s performances, Dr Mohan Agashe is a dear friend and I have always had the highest regard for Marathi actors because like in Bengal, they are all very good actors. If we can see Iranian films and Chinese films, why can’t we see our own regional films?

Doesn’t every language have its own meter and isn’t it difficult to adjust?

Bengali and Marathi have the same meter. Pauses, breaks and emphasis are the same. It’s just that some alphabets are pronounced differently.

So, is your character alone or lonely?

She chooses to be alone, but is not lonely. Like I said, she does not follow social compulsions. She is alright with herself, true to her own being and to her nature.

When you are alone, not enjoying yourself, are resentful and wanting company and when you don’t get company you feel deprived, that is being lonely. I would take loneliness in a negative sense. Somewhere in our souls we are all alone. To be alone I think is wonderful, that is when you can introspect, grow or evolve and that is a very positive thing. To be alone and doing your own thing, listening to music, exercising, looking at a beautiful flower, swimming in the sea or walking alone in the hills, it’s a wonderful healing process. When you are doing yoga you aren’t doing it to impress anybody, you are doing it for yourself. That is a healing and growing process. That is the difference between loneliness and being alone.

Which three Hindi films would you list as most memorable?

I would say Safar with Asit Sen, Dooriyan with Bhimsain and Mausam. Safar and Dooriyan were the two films where I follow an individual goal as a woman. Usually all women put the family before and sacrifice for them. These two women want to follow their careers and are therefore misunderstood. Indian films should have professional women because the moment you become a working woman, you are  a negative character, you are the cause of divorce. Children should feel, ‘I have a working mother’ and look at it with added value as opposed to that she is working woman, she must be neglecting her children.

The change is happening…

It needs to change more. Look at the disparity between the hero’s salary and the heroine’s.

What did you think of Saif in the Kal part of Love Aaj Kal?

It’s written very well, and Saif is very good, specially in the Kal part. Whatever he does, pulls his shirt in front, the earnestness, he does it very well. He is one of those very spontaneous actors. When he interacts with others, the screen looks good, not that he outsmarts the others. He doesn’t interact with his audience, he interacts with his co-stars. Therefore his scenes are very real and I think he is becoming a wonderful actor.

You are set to have a celebrity daughter-in-law soon ( Kareena Kapoor). How will it affect family dynamics?

I don’t think it changes anything. She also comes from a film background and we come from various fields. One extra person comes in and things change, but it’s for the better. You have to grow, everything grows.