Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘maqbool

By Subhash K. Jha, December 31, 2009 – 11:35 IST

Abbas Tyrewala Abbas Tyrewala who directed one of 2008’s biggest successes is also a writer of great repute, having written among other things, the prophetic dialogues of Munnabhai MBBS and the screenplay of Maqbool.

Abbas went to see the latest Yashraj production Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year not only as a writer and director but also as an eager fan of the films that the banner comes out of.

“I love Jaideep Sahni’s writing and Shimit Amin’s direction. But what were they thinking while doing Rocket Singh? Where is the payoff in the screenplay? Where is the hero? Ranbir plays a timid Sardar who steals phone lines and computer hardware from his work-place to start his own business. And we are supposed to accept him as a man of integrity! Would he be able to start his own business if it wasn’t for the nefarious support he gets from his work-place? In other words the ‘hero’ resorts to those very underhand tactics that he claims to abhor and takes the help of that very organization which has disgraced him!”

Most damaging of all, Abbas couldn’t see a hero in Ranbir’s character. “The boss (Manish Chowdhary) is so over-the-top he belongs to another sensibility altogether, calls Ranbir a ‘bastard’ several times, humiliates and disgraces him publicly. We wait for our hero to have his revenge on the boorish boss. I completely believe in the old-fashioned Hindi film formula where the hero gives his tormentor tit for tat. But Boss, where’s the comeuppance for the villain? In fact the story comes across more as the boss’ redemption story as the hero’s.”

Abbas is now more than sure what he wants to do with his own hero John Abraham in 1-800-Love at the end. “I want my hero to either win or die at the end. Not a hero whose fight for the right simply peters out to a dead-end.”

In fact Abbas’s disappointment with Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year has given him a renewed creative strength. “I now know exactly how my hero’s journey to end. I’m an old-fashioned storyteller. And we’ve at heart a very traditional audience. They want to see the hero triumph at the end, not walk away from the villain as he makes an apology speech.”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

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Two prominent Bollywood filmmakers — Manmohan Shetty and Bobby Bedi — have spoken against multiplexes and the high price of tickets, saying these two factors could destroy the industry.

Multiplexes killing Bollywood, say filmmakers

“The main culprit to bring down Bollywood are multiplexes,” said Shetty, who started the trend of multiplex cinema chains.

“The tickets are priced so high that people who used to watch the movies by paying Rs.30 to Rs.40 are not coming to cinema halls anymore,” Shetty said at a conference, ‘India – The Big Picture’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“With high budgets and high priced tickets at multiplexes, film business has become difficult,” he added.

Shetty, who produced movies like ‘GangaaJal’, also said the fees charged by stars have made movie production a tricky business.

“Even though film producers spend Rs.10-15 crore on promotion of films, it is difficult to recover the amount,” he said, adding that a star like Akshay Kumar, who earlier used to charge Rs.1 crore now commands Rs.25 crore.

Film producer Bobby Bedi, in his address at the same conference that was organised on the occasion of the 40th edition of the International Film Festival of India, equated high priced tickets to the Frankenstein monster that would soon “eat us all up”.

“By pricing the tickets high, the industry has created a monster which will eat us all up like Frankenstein,” said Bedi, whose Kaleidoscope Entertainment has produced blockbusters like ‘Saathiya’, ‘Maqbool’ and ‘Bandit Queen’.

“The need today is for us to lower the ticket prices and the cost of production,” he added.

“We shout from the rooftop about making 1,000 films in India every year. But only 84 films out of the 400 films are hits. What happens to the rest of the films and the money invested in them,” he asked.

Bedi also blamed the entry of corporate sector into film business for the unprecedented upswing in production costs and skyrocketing fees of stars.

“For ‘Mangal Pandey’, Aamir Khan was paid a princely sum of Rs.4 crore. In five years, the price could have a zero added to it,” he said.

“Corporates came into the film industry with pots of money. Now that they have made losses, they are exiting the market. Today, corporates are bleeding from the wounds they themselves inflicted.”

Source: IANS

 

ON A SONG: Rekha Bhardwaj

Rekha Bhardwaj’s sweet, lilting tunes will soothe your city soul this Saturday…

 

REAGAN GAVIN RASQUINHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; November 4, 2009)

 

 

Music was in Rekha Bhardwaj’s blood as far back as she can remember. The wife of Bollywood filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj recalls “waking up early on cold Delhi winter mornings, the air rich with the smell of brewing breakfast tea and spiritual music, and hearing my parents planning out the day, while I, still swathed in my warm quilt, nurtured all these sounds”.
From that time, the seed of song was planted in her fertile mind. And this Saturday, the critically acclaimed playback singer of such Bollywood films as Maachis in 1996, Maqbool in 2003, Omkara in 2006 and Dilli 6 and Kaminey in 2009, will perform her first big concert in Mumbai. It’s at the Bandra Fort, 7 pm, for the Times of India Crest Edition. Rekha is all excited. “It’s as much of an occasion for me. The venue is beautiful. I’m going to rock the audience with a full band while performing my album Ishqa Ishqa and some film songs,” she said.
Rekha, who trained at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya for a couple of years and did her Bachelor’s degree in music at Hindu College, Delhi, is well-versed in the Indore gharana and ably trained by her guruji Pandit Amarnath. She weaves in her voice well with the Merukhand form that is such an intrinsic part of this gharana. “K Pannalal was the king of rubaiyat, I was exposed to that a lot. For classical singing, Gangubai Hangal comes to mind and in semi classical Girija Devi was my favourite,” she said.
She describes her voice as being distinct, and particularly suited to a certain genre. “It’s neither too bassy nor too thin. I never try to consciously imitate anyone,” she asserted, continuing, “I sang Namak Ishq ka from Omkara. After that, I sang a thumri for Laaga Chunri Mein Daag for Shantanu Moitra. I’m even doing an upcoming one with Shankar Ehsaan Loy which is due in December. Rahman is a sufi so that makes all the difference. I prefer anything that moves my soul. I’ve come very far from ghazals. I’ve not done ghazals for nine or ten years. Perhaps I should get back into it. This is my only way to express myself, I don’t know any other way.”
Free passes for Rekha Bhardwaj’s concert are available between 10 am and 6 pm at the Times of India offices at D. N. Road; Matulya Mill Compound, S. B. Marg, Lower Parel (W); and, Trade Avenue, Ground Floor, Suren Road, Andheri (E).
Vishal Bharadwaj is as much of an enigma as his films. He goes incommunicado when he is shooting a film but is wonderfully articulate and expressive once the pressure is off. Perhaps because he started his career as a music director, his films are appealingly lyrical and poetic even as they explore the dark side of human behaviour
By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 22, 2009)
All your films explore the dark side of the human psyche…

Yes, I have been doing that right from Makdee, in which I tried to show life from the point of view of a child. As a child, I remember, one of my relatives was supposedly possessed by a ghost and we would take him to a Maulvi to get rid of the ghost. I was only 14 – 15 years of age and I was traumatised. Then as I grew up, I realised that I had to get this out of my system and so I made Makdee. I tried to do the exorcising with Maqbool and Omkara too but I think we can never get rid of our dark side. We get dark images everyday. But Kaminey, I would say, has the lightest side of that darkness presented in a humorous manner with some seriousness.Where did Kaminey originate? Was it an incident or a film or a book that inspired you?

Four years ago, Mira Nair assembled writers from America, India and Canada to mentor ten students from Asia and Africa. This scriptwriting workshop was held in Kampala, Yuganda. A young writer from Nairobi showed me a script which was a story about twin brothers and what happens in their life in a span of 24 hours. It was like parallel cutting and I really liked that approach. Mira and I spoke about it at length and both of us felt that it was a typical Bollywood masala movie. I was in touch with that writer for the next six months. He also sent me another draft. Then two-three years later I asked him to sell me the idea. He was in need of money so I sent him some 4000 dollars and bought the script to make any time. I picked up that idea and added Bollywood masala and my dark and serious side to it. So now, one brother stammers and the other has a lisp.

I thought that it would be exciting to make. But it wasn’t that easy. It was very tough and I had to work really hard. I would never like to make such a film again.

Evidently you took this film to several actors before you signed Shahid. How far is this true?

When I was working with Aamir Khan on Mr Mehta and Mrs Singh and we would sit together for drinks, Aamir would narrate two ideas to me and then I would narrate six to him. He would get excited about them and we would say we would work together. When I narrated this idea to him he expressed his desire to do this double role. It’s the same with Shahid and me. I must have narrated six other ideas to Shahid too but it’s not necessary that I will cast Shahid in each one of them.

If we are to be so guarded when we are working together, it will not be possible to work. When Saif and I were working, I would do the same thing with him too. He too got really excited about this movie. But when I actually decided to make the movie, I genuinely found that Saif was a little over age according to the character and I wanted someone younger. So it was my choice, I never offered it to anyone.

Today I might tell a story to Shahid but I might make the film with Emran Hashmi. That doesn’t mean I had offered it to Shahid. Shahid has offered me umpteen number of things. Kareena had said that she wouldn’t work with anyone apart from me. If we were to go by that she would only have one release every three years and not be able to work in even three films during her career.

There is a huge difference between discussing and narrating and offering someone a film and I would like to clear up the rumour by saying that Kaminey was never offered to anyone else and so no one rejected it. This film wasn’t ever offered to Saif. Saif and Aamir are very fine actors but ultimately it’s about my choice.

Does the title Kaminey reflect young people’s fascination for things negative?

I think today’s youth is more open to face their mean side. There is less hypocrisy and in time, that too will decrease. And something negative always attracts attention. I was at the airport and a couple with their little boy recognised me and started talking to me. The boy asked me “Uncle, what is the name of your movie?” and the father immediately said, “I will tell you later. Not now.” I said, “Why will you tell him later? It’s not a maa-behan ki gaali.” And I told the boy that the name was Kaminey. That kid laughed aloud.

During Omkara, I met an MP, who was upset with me because of the abusive language in the film. I asked him, when there is a clash going on in the streets with a lot of abusive language used by people, do you really go and stop them? So why do you want us to portray what is not true? We are giving you an option to avoid watching the film by giving it an A certificate. I have the right to portray reality. But I feel we become very uncomfortable with our own language. It’s easy for us to say f**k but in our language we can’t say it at all, only because that is our conditioning. We feel really offended in our language. But the youth don’t care.

Your films have been critically acclaimed but have never been a big success. Do you think Kaminey will break that pattern?

I have thought this for all my films till now. I don’t know. This time I have gone a few steps ahead in terms of the kind of audience I want to cater to. Inshallah, it should do that. But, god forbid, it may also not do that well. I only want Ronnie (Screwvala) to make money.

When you get stuck in your writing, who or what inspires you?

When I get stuck, I go to my friends, my co-writers. Most of the time, I get my solution. And it has also happened that I get such solutions that I have to ultimately stop writing. It has happened that we had written 70 percent of a film and suddenly a problem came up. We took it to a friend who told me that I would never be able to overcome this problem. So, it’s better to move on.

What is your stress buster?

Tennis. It’s my best time of the day. I play from 6.30am to 9am and it’s on my return that I compose most of my songs. I composed Naina thag lenge, when returning from tennis.

Does it bother you that your film is so much in news for your actors and their activities and not for the film itself?

I don’t think so because ultimately it’s my film. I feel happy that it is promoting my film. (laughs)

Most people consider Maqbool your most perfect film…

I don’t agree or disagree because it is based on one of the best works of Shakespeare. The basic texture and the content of the story are well structured and I also had the best actors of the century: Pankaj Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri.

Will you ever make a candy floss romance?

I will make such films one day. It’s part of my agenda that I have to go back to the time when I was 17-years-old and had fallen in love for the first time in my small town. I want to capture that. Right now I am too busy dealing with the structural part of the film, how to shock people with the structures, the curves and characters. Slowly, I will move to the texture of the film and when that happens I will be more close to reality in the real sense.

What are you planning to make next?

I had started planning much before Kaminey was released. I want to do one film a year. I am young right now. I have the energy and I want to translate that on screen. Right now I have three four projects on hand, but the Hrithik film is closest to start.

What is it called?

We haven’t named it yet.

Is it going to be Harami, Kutta or something like that?

No no no..(laughs) its not going to be like that.

Is it a romantic film?

Yes, it is a romantic film.

Vishal Bhardwaj to remake The Departed, after Kaminey. Saif and Kareena keen to bag roles in the film
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 19, 2009)

Vishal Bharadwaj

The hit Omkara jodi of actor Saif Ali Khan and director Vishal Bhardwaj are teaming up again, goes the current buzz in the industry. The two are ready to work on a new project as soon as Vishal’s Kaminey, with Shahid Kapur and Priyanka Chopra, is released.

Apparently, a big production house has bought the copyright of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 American crime drama The Departed and has approached Vishal to direct it. Having directed dark gangster films like Omkara, Maqbool earlier, they have chosen Vishal to handle the desi Departed.

Saif, whose career underwent a major transformation with Omkara has expressed a keen desire to be a part of Vishal’s version of The Departed. He doesn’t mind playing the role of either of the protagonists, played by Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed.

Saif’s eagerness to return to working with Vishal has been apparent to his friends for quite some time now. Every time the Kaminey trailer with the ‘Dhan te nan’ song plays, Saif slips into a retro mood. One of Saif’s close friends says, “Saif just loves the look of Kaminey. We feel he really regrets that he could not be a part of Kaminey, especially since Shahid’s role was initially offered to him. He was busy putting together Love Aaj Kal, his maiden production venture, at that time. Every time we notice him grooving to ‘Dhan te nan’s beats, he quickly shoots back, ‘Why would I want someone else’s song? I have my own track, ‘We twist’ (from Love Aaj Kal) in the charts.”

Saif Ali Khan

Kareena Kapoor

Saif may say that, but the fact is that he is keen to do The Departed with Vishal. Not only that, girlfriend Kareena Kapoor too wants to be a part of the film. Though there isn’t a need for the presence of a female lead in the film, the story may modified if she is a part of the film.

In fact, Kareena too was asked to be part of Kaminey initially. But by the looks of it, she has obviously refused. When we ask Vishal about this, he snaps back, “Kisne manaa kia tha? (Who had asked them not to be part of the film?) They got busy with other things and we moved on. I would like to work with them again.”

Vishal Bharadwaj and Hrithik Roshan join forces for the director’s next
By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 24, 2009)

Hrithik Roshan

Two great talents have joined hands. There have been rumours since 2007 that Hrithik Roshan will star in a Vishal Bharadwaj film. It’s official now. Hrithik will star in Bharadwaj’s next.

The project in question is a deeply emotional romantic film, which will have two heroines. None of the leading ladies has been finalised.

Since the past few months, Hrithik has decided to work on more films outside his home production company, Filmkraft. Sometime ago, he signed on for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish. As soon as he is free from Kites, he will move on to Bharadwaj’s film.

Vishal and Hrithik have been talking about this film for the last three months. Only last week, both of them agreed to work together on the same.

An insider from Vishal’s camp said, “There have been rumours that Vishal’s next film will be an adaptation of Hamlet, but that’s not true. This time he is making a completely original film.”

Vishal Bharadwaj

A source said, “After Maqbool, Vishal and Hrithik wanted to work together. Finally, they have a script which both are excited about and committed to.”

Vishal chose not to confirm the story, but on the other hand, didn’t deny it either.

The director is the new superstar. As the Bollywood story gets more exciting by the day, Lekha Menon meets story tellers who love to push the cinematic envelope just that extra bit
By Lekha Menon (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 12, 2009)
If 2008 celebrated the coming of age of the typical Hindi film, 2009 promises to go one step ahead. Quirky stories, edgy camerawork, eclectic music – if there is anything predictable about the new films hitting the marquee, it’s their unpredictability. While there are quite a few exciting names who are determined to turn the “formula” upside down, we present six filmmakers who reveal just why this is such an exciting time to be at the movies.



Don’t spoon-feed the audience

Abhinay Deo

Calling card: Delhi Belly, Farhan Akhtar’s next
CV details: Heads Ramesh Deo Productions (RDP), over 300 ads in a decade-long advertising career; avid gamer and photographer
Filmy Philosophy: When you make a good film, nothing matters – stars, budget or formula

He was all of 15 when Abhinay Deo walked up to his father with a script in hand announcing his intention to make a movie. It was an intense story – about a man battling his inner fears. Ramesh Deo, the veteran Marathi actor-filmmaker was amused at his son’s enthusiasm, but had an advice: follow your heart’s instinct, but first complete your education. The doting son religiously followed the suggestion, graduating in architecture, working in a firm for a year before finally succumbing to the filmi bug.

But there was a hitch: the kind of films that were being churned in the early ‘90s didn’t exactly match his sensibilities. So he turned to the next best thing – making ads. Ten years on, over 300 ad films later, Abhinay is finally wielding the directorial baton with Aamir Khan’s action-comedy, Delhi Belly, a film that’s as “unBollywood” as it gets. Or as Abhinay puts it: “an interesting merge of the East and the West”. “The story is Indian, but the film is in English…rather Hinglish. The format is very western, with a tight narrative.” If that restricts its appeal only to the urban, upper middle class audience, Abhinay isn’t worried. “The script, written by Akshat Varma, demanded that the film be made in English,” he says.

Language, argues Abhinay, is the smallest barrier for the new-age filmmaker. Like other ad filmmakers-turned-directors, what turns him on, is the “big idea”. “My primary interest is story-telling. Whether it is in 60 seconds or 60 minutes makes no difference. Be it English, Marathi or Hindi, I have always leaned towards a good story; is should have the power to keep the audience hooked.”

Fortunately, in a star-driven system, gradually the script and story too is assuming importance though Abhinay candidly admits that majority of filmmakers still think backwards. “If there is a change at all, we have the new directors, technicians and writers to thank for. Films like Rock On and Taare Zameen Par proves that all you need is a good film, not stars. You don’t need to spoon-feed the audience any longer.”



There’s an audience for all films

Abhishek Chaubey

Calling card: Vishal Bharadwaj’s Ishqiya, starring Naseer-Vidya-Arshad Warsi
CV details: Wrote Omkara; assisted Vishal on Makdee, Maqbool, The Blue Umbrella and Omkara
Filmy philosophy: Never consider yourself bigger than your film

Abhishek Chaubey detests the word ‘struggler’, often used to describe Bollywood aspirants. “It’s such a ‘60s notion…the image of a small town boy running to Mumbai with dreams in his eyes and no money in his pocket! Nothing of that sort happens; you want to come to Mumbai, you just rent a room,” he laughs. “And there’s enough room for everyone today.”

New-age Bollywood has certainly opened up space for his ideas. Hailing from the ‘VCR generation’, growing up on films of the ‘80s and ‘90s, films were the last thing on his mind. “It was only after I moved to Delhi and got introduced to world cinema, film festivals and retrospectives during my teens that I discovered my love for the movies.”

A shift to Mumbai followed and so did a course at Xavier’s. The turning point came when he met Vishal Bharadwaj and struck an instant rapport. Ishqiya, coming as it does from the same school of real, gritty and raw cinema, will no doubt be measured against the previous films, but Abhishek is nonchalant. “My relationship with Vishal goes beyond the professional realm,” he says. “Our sensibilities are very similar. We both hail from middle-class families in UP, have similar taste in films and are bound by a passion for good cinema.”

The earthy sensibilities, in fact, dominate his cinematic landscape – whether in characterisations or locations. For instance, like Omkara, even Ishqiya is set in Eastern UP and its characters, rooted and real. So does he not relate to feel-good, set in New York, saccharine sweet NRI romances? “I have nothing against candy-floss!” Pat comes the reply. “It’s just that the narration has to work. A lot of our films fall for the rut and lose their soul in the process. But there is an audience for all kinds of films, you just need to go out  and make them.”

However, nine years in the industry has taught him certain survival mantras. “One, you need lots of patience to succeed! And two, never be too sure of your abilities,” he quips. Well, that’s because some Bollywood lessons always remain the same – whether in the ‘60, ‘80s or ‘00s.



Hop on to the bandwagon

Rajkumar Gupta

Calling card: Aamir; working on Nobody Killed Jessica and Rapchik Romance
CV details: Assisted Anurag Kashyap in No Smoking, Gulaal and Black Friday; scripted Barah Aana
Filmy philosophy: Stick to your convictions. Then bring others onto the same page

The mean streets of Mumbai hold a special fascination for Hazaribaug-born Rajkumar Gupta. His first introduction to Mumbai street life was as a hostelite at Xavier’s where he had joined for a communication course years ago. Thereafter, his stays at PG digs in Kalina and sundry rented apartments gave him new insights into maximum city. All of which found expression in the much-acclaimed Aamir, ranked among the best films of 2008. “In many ways, I continue to look at Mumbai from an outsider’s perspective. And it’s in the “mean streets” where the maximum stories lie,” he says.

His rooted approach to cinema has its beginnings in his very middle-class upbringing. Even while he was making Aamir, his banker father, fuelled by horror stories about Bollywood in the media, had only one worry – that his son’s film was being funded by the underworld. “It was only when he attended the premier that his fears got allayed. My parents would rather I did a safe sarkari bank job,” he laughs.

Rajkumar himself had no filmi aspirations, but fate willed otherwise when he began assisting Anurag Kashyap after graduation. The going was still tough with films like Gulaal and Black Friday getting stuck for a long time, but Rajkumar used the time to write his own script. “Most makers whom I approached rejected it. Fortunately, Anurag was a huge support and with UTV Spotboy backing it, the film finally got made.”

Incidentally, the fame and accolades that followed hasn’t exactly made life easier. While the market has opened up for “thinking” films, it’s still a tough ask getting them made, he says. “Aamir has given me a visiting card. Otherwise, the struggle is just the same, whether you make your first film or the 10th.”

Yet Rajkumar is certain he won’t back down from making the kind of cinema he believes in. And it’s same philosophy that drives him while scripting his second film Nobody Killed Jessica, inspired by a newspaper headline in the famous Jessica Lal case. “The challenge is to get others – the technicians, artistes, producer and financers – believe in your vision. Filmmakers and actors need to accept one fact: the landscape of cinema is changing, so they need to change as well. It is an exciting time, so just hop on to the bandwagon!”



I am still a Kachcha Limboo

Sagar Bellary

Calling card: Bheja Fry; ready with Kachcha Limboo; on to a new project
CV details: Assisted Rajat Kapoor in Raghu Romeo and Mithya; did theatre, and film school in Kolkata
Filmy philosophy: There are 100 ways to reach God; And there are 100 ways to make a film

There’s good news for all those who loved Bharat Bhushan’s antics in the laughathon Bheja Fry. Scripting is on in full swing for its sequel. But while it might take a while before we see Rajat Kapoor and Vinay Pathak sparring again, the 33-year-old director hasn’t been resting on past laurels. Sagar Bellary is ready with his next film, a children’s film called Kachcha Limboo following which he directs another comedy for Manmohan Shetty and R Mohan.

“People wonder why I didn’t cash in on Bheja Fry’s success. But Kachcha Limboo is a film I have always wanted to make, I want to raise the bar for children’s films. Besides, it’s the first offering from my production company Park Bench Motion Pictures – named so, because I used to ideate with my team on a park bench near my Matunga house in the days I didn’t have an office!” he laughs. His team entirely consists of 20-somethings with the same passion for thinking out of the box. “The energy is infectious when you work with youngsters, there are no rules and regulations. And that’s a terrific approach to filmmaking.”

Sagar admits he is still coming to terms with the success of his first film, which ironically spawned a Bheja Fry model of filmmaking (making a movie within 50 lakh and hope for returns in crores). “But it doesn’t work that way. You need a great story in place. Thankfully these days different stories are being told. There was a time when I would wonder if I could ever convince anyone to make my film!”

All that might be in the past, but even after 15 years and nearly three-films old in the industry, Sagar believes the small filmmaker has battles to fight. “Corporotisation has helped, but selling an idea is a different ballgame altogether. Yet that’s what makes the whole process so fascinating. I am still a kaccha limboo here, trying to find my niche. But there’s one thing I am supremely confident about: I am still the only guy who can make a film within 50 lakh!”



You can work around the system

Navdeep Singh

Calling card: Manorama Six Feet Under; Nikhil Advani’s next Basra
CV details: Ad filmmaker in LA and UK
Filmy philosophy: We are definitely going in the right direction though there is a long way to go

Most filmmakers are dictated by three factors when it comes to making films: the budget, stars and story (often in that order). Again, most directors aspire to move from a small film to a mammoth canvas. But Navdeep Singh is different. Guess what enthuses him the most about an idea? The story’s location. The Manorama…director is fascinated by the opportunity to explore newer territories through cinema. A fact that was evident in his debut film where the arid desert of Rajasthan played an important role in reflecting the layers of its complex characters. “I feel about 90 per cent of India hasn’t been explored cinematically. I would love to place my next film in Central India, or even the North East – an area that’s been completely ignored,” he says.

Interestingly it his stint in advertising that has inspired him to relook Indian locations. “Glossy pictures are not new to me, I have seen enough of that in London and LA. Hence I prefer to keep my films more rooted. Even if I am depicting Mumbai, I would rather stay away from the clichéd Marine Drive and Gateway of India, and show newer locations instead. I don’t relate to filmmakers who set their films in exotic Europe or America, but where everyone – from the lead actors to the policeman or the doctor – speak in Hindi!”

It is this sensibility that guides his entire approach to cinema. Despite Basra (starring Akshaye Khanna set in Mumbai, Delhi and Iraq), being mounted on a lavish scale, Navdeep would rather describe himself as a “small filmmaker”. “The commercial considerations are far too many in big-budget films. A small film, on the other hand, is easier to make and the returns are more too. Sure, the box of being a niche filmmaker is a tad constraining, but if you are smart, you can work around the system!” he says.

Of course, the ‘system’ by and large prefers going the safe and sound way. For instance, Manorama… got mixed reviews and a lukewarm box-office response, but was a huge hit on the DVD circuit. “I expected 60 per cent to dislike the film,” Navdeep admits honestly. “But there were also a small number of people who really loved it. And it was worth it. For me, even if 100 people are my fans, that’s enough.”



I would rather stick to my beliefs

Rensil D’Silva

Calling card: Karan Johar’s tentatively-titled Jihad with Saif-Kareena-Vivek Oberoi
CV details: Writer, Rang De Basanti; Ad and documentary filmmaker
Filmy Philosophy: You have only one life, you should have fun; and films are great fun

It’s a scenario that has played out all too often in screen writer Rensil D’Silva’s career. A producer meets him at a plush five-star claiming to have a ‘superb idea’ which he needs to translate. A few minutes into the meeting and out comes the big idea – a Hollywood film DVD. “The race is on to see how creatively you steal the DVD,” says the Rang De Basanti writer.

But if there is anything more frustrating for a writer than being asked to copy, it’s when a film he works for, never gets made. Rensil’s first brush with the film world was with Rakeysh Mehra’s Aks, but before that he wrote a portion of Samjhauta Express which got shelved. Then the much-talked-about Panch Kaurav, (for which  he wrote 50 drafts), was also put on the backburner.

So what does a writer do when he wants his original idea to be made, the way he visualises it? He simply directs a film. And with Jihad, Rensil has got a chance to do just that. “Direction makes a film happen. Besides, it’s great to see your characters come to life on screen. When Karan told me this story, I knew I had to make it,” he says.

Doesn’t he fear that after the landmark RDB his work will be scrutinised than ever before? “Yes, but comparisons are inevitable. Even RDB generated a lot of debate about its ending. However, after 10 years, I have realised that it’s not possible to please everyone. Some people play safe, but I would rather stick to my beliefs.”

Fortunately for him, there are filmmakers who share his vision. Precisely why he is as comfortable working with a Mani Ratnam as he is for a Karan Johar or an SRK.

Of course, the age-old lament about script writers being undervalued in the industry persists (“anyway, very few people in Bollywood read”), but things are changing for the better he says. “I was especially impressed with the recent Dev D and its take on Devdas, a character I have never liked, for he is such whiner! When such films do well there is a glimmer of hope that an original voice will also be heard.”


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