Madhur Bhandarkar on coming a long way from being a video delivery boy, on testing new genres and believing that Kareena will eventually come around to act in Heroine
• Comedy is not your forte. Why are making one, Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji ?
It was not an easy decision to make. While some have been saying that I shouldn’t get into other genres of cinema, others say that it’s time for a change. I have always considered myself as an experimental filmmaker and this is another one of my experiments. Actors who have worked with me will vouch for my sense of humour. More often than not, I have them in splits on my sets. In fact, Tabu (who starred in Chandni Bar) used to always ask me why I hadn’t directed a comedy yet.
• After dropping out from school you even worked as a delivery boy for a video library. Did you ever think that you’ll get this far?
Honestly, no. God has given me more than I asked for. I guess it has been a mixture of hard work and luck. I think I am God’s blessed child. And I am not going to get carried away.
• Your male-oriented films, Traffic Signal and Jail, don’t do particularly well. Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji too is male-oriented. Are you nervous?
I am nervous. But that happens with me before the release of any of my films. Think of it, isn’t it early days to say that Madhur Bhandarkar makes only good female-oriented films? I don’t jump into making films just for the heck of it. Recently I had offers to remake some top South films but I didn’t see any creativity in that.
Tell me one good reason why shouldn’t I attempt to make a comedy, or say, even a romcom or a thriller, as long as the characters in my film are well fleshed out? Sooner or later, I’ll touch upon all genres.
• Will you cast Neil Nitin Mukesh (Jail) and Kunal Khemu (Traffic Signal), who seem to have lost the plot?
If I have a script for them, why not? I don’t cast actors as per their market status. Didn’t I cast Samir Soni, Arjan Bajwa and Arbaaz Khan in Fashion despite people’s apprehensions? Again if you see, I have three newcomers in Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji : Shruti Haasan, Shazahn Padamsee and Shraddha Das, whose debut films have flopped.
• Perhaps budgetary constraints might have resulted in this benevolence in casting.
Yes, I do make films within a stipulated budget. I never spend too much, I don’t overshoot. My homework is very strong. Even Jail broke even.
• Your next female-oriented film Heroine is stuck. Kareena Kapoor is latkofying you…
Kareena and I have not been in touch. She has been very busy with RA.One and Agent Vinod. But we are going to meet soon.
• She’s ditched you with Page 3 and Fashion as well…
I think Kareena is a remarkable actress with a great screen presence. From the minute I saw her in Refugee, I knew she will go a long way. I think I will be third time lucky. She deserves a lot more from this industry. I believe that Heroine will give that to her, it’s a dream role for any actress.
• What happened to that biopic on Lalit Modi called Commissioner ?
Things didn’t work out. Besides, the Lalit Modi controversy would have been too hot to handle.
• You have always been a ladies’ man. We’re disappointed to not have heard of any link-ups. Have you really changed or are you a smoother operator now?
(Laughs) Today, I am very happy the way I am living my life. Do I really need to answer this question?
• All the more…
Un dino, meri shaadi nahin hui thi. And people just perceived me that way. (laughs again).
Amitabh Bachchan is a busy bee a couple of days ahead of his 68th. He is shooting simultaneously for his new film Power, directed by Raj Kumar Santoshi, and Kaun Banega Crorepati.
A few nights ago he stole the show walking the ramp for Karan Johar. His energy is at an all-time high.
Excerpts from a tête-à-tête.
So, all set for the birthday celebrations at home?
Hold on! There will be no celebrations at home. Of course, if people come over unannounced, they’re most welcome. I’ll be opening KBC this day. I have been working late into the nights recording promos for the show.
Is Rajnikanth coming to Mumbai for your birthday?
There are no such plans. But we’ve great affection for one another. I met Rajni for the first time in Chennai when I was shooting at the AVM Studios. He came across and met me. We’ve been friends ever since. He’s such a humble and simple human being. So down-to-earth… how he remains that way with the kind of fan-following he has is a mystery.
His wife has been a wonderful support. She has brought up their children so well. Every time I am in Chennai, I call and visit him. We call each other whenever the need arises.
What did you think of Robot?
What a massive achievement! Great entertainer. It’s all Rajni and Shankar and their hard work.
On the eve of your birthday you rocked on the ramp.
Thank you… Kya Karen, karna padta hai kissi terah.
How do you it?
Keep crossing new thresholds in your career?
I don’t know about that. I had walked the ramp just once… no twice before, but both times for a cause. This time, I did it because Karan (Johar) asked. I can’t say no to Karan. He is family.
Walking the ramp looks easy enough from the other side. When you look at the models doing it you say, ‘Hey, it’s not a tough job at all.’ But once you go up there you really start admiring them. It’s not just a simple walk. It’s actually a nightmare.
This time you seem very comfortable with your television appearance.
I’m going back to KBC after 10 years. I remember in 2000 when I did the show I was raw to the medium, very hesitant very nervous. That hasn’t changed.
Anytime I go in front of the camera for any medium there will be apprehensions. Creativity is an ongoing process. No matter how professional you are, it can never be enough. One can never be fully comfortable on television. It’s a frightening medium for me.
You seem to enjoy your interaction with the aam aadmi on KBC.
Yes, they all have such an interesting back story… where they came from, how they grew up.
This time on the show we actually follow the lives of the contestants to their roots. I actually get to see where they came from, what their parents and family think, etc.
The human-interest level is high this time. KBC can now be a life-changing moment for the contestant.
There are people coming on the show from places where the show did not reach earlier. For them KBC is an opportunity to make the kind of money in a hour that they’ve never seen before.
Television will occupy a lot of your time this year.
KBC will go on only until November or the first week of December. I have started shooting for Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Power, which will be followed by Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan. Then there’s Balki’s film. We’ve finally zeroed in on a subject. It will be produced by AB Corp Ltd.
Image courtesy: Prasad Naik
Being a small-town 17-year-old from Bhambla in Himachal Pradesh didn’t stop this stunner from taking on Bollywood. Waiting in her vanity van to front the camera for Knock Out, her latest movie with Sanjay Dutt and Irrfan Khan, where Kangna plays a crime journalist – today’s Kangna is confident, composed and totally at ease with being ‘real’.
Excerpts from the interview:
What made you become an actor?
I was restless when I was 15/16. I was pursuing science but I was more attracted towards art. So I started pursuing theatre. Thereon, I also tried modelling because people kept harping that I looked different. I signed up with a modelling agency and took it quite seriously. Unfortunately, modelling didn’t take me very seriously! I figured that in India, modelling is only something you can be happy doing part-time. In the mean time, I was pursuing theatre and my guruji, Arvind Gaur encouraged me a lot. I started giving auditions for movies. The truth is even if I wasn’t selected for Anurag Basu’s Gangster, I would’ve tried other projects. However, I got selected and Bollywood became my career.
What is the creative process that goes behind every character you etch?
Each role is challenging. You have to do your homework. For instance, in Abhinay Deo’s Game, I play a cop from London and she has a Brit accent. It was difficult for me to emulate that. Acting is a job where you have to learn to look, talk and project a certain body language. The trick is to remain focused, yet flexible.
With no filmi background, how do you hold yourself in this fiercely competitive industry?
People in Mumbai are judgemental. Here, your fate changes every Friday. Also, it’s true that if you’re a star kid or if you’re a star girlfriend, you get extra mileage. But if none of these things work in your favour, you tend to work on your talent. My challenge was to be able to fit in here. People criticised the way I talked, walked and even the way I looked—more so because I come from a small town. There are two ways of dealing with such a situation: either you care a damn; or you can improve yourself.
You’ve gone through several ups and downs in your personal life. Do you think the media has been fair to you?
I feel that the media, somewhat, is nicer to people coming from a filmi background, or personalities they have connections with. The media doesn’t accept you easily. A Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir (Khan) have been around for two decades and have established a relationship with the media and the public. That’s why their films get 90% opening. So, tomorrow, of course their children will get special treatment because the rapport is already there. But now I realise that if I connect with the media personally, it always works better. They figure out your dimension too.
And how have you evolved as an actor?
I’ve always been surrounded by very creative people—whether it’s Bhatt saab, Anurag Basu, Mohit Suri, Madhur Bhandarkar. I can write a whole book on my experiences and the craft I’ve learnt in the last five years! (laughs) When I entered Bollywood, (Mahesh) Bhatt saab made me unlearn everything – he taught me not to act and be real in front of the camera. You don’t fake crying or laughing. You actually do it.
But the turning point came when one day Bhatt saab told me I was the ugliest woman he’d seen. I asked, why? He retorted, asking where my dark circles, pimples were and why I was hiding behind makeup. He called me a mannequin! That’s when I realised that it’s important to be real.
Can you actually be ‘real’ in Bollywood?
It’s difficult. It’s almost like being naked in front of the public. Every time you’re in front of the camera, there are so many emotions you let out and you’re not scared. You may even portray emotions that might not be familiar to you. But you need to be you, your real self, to give that astounding performance.
How do you keep fit?
I take care of my body and make sure that I’m happy. I work out, but I don’t over-do. I don’t remove that cheese slice from my sandwich; or remove the oil when I’m having kheema pav! I try to be as normal as I can be in my habits. I love food and I love life. So I’m not the kind who’d count calories everyday and kill myself in the gym, or die doing yoga. I listen to myself and my body. I don’t push myself very hard.
What’s more important to you: critical acclaim vis-à-vis box office success?
For me, there are two kinds of movies– good or bad. To please only a particular group of people is not my goal. I think a film should be entertaining.
Kangna’s hit list
Holiday destination: Paris
Perfume: I wear men’s perfume. But I like Chanel.
Dream director: Aamir Khan
Vivek Oberoi speaks to BT about his new look and his upcoming films
Elina Priyadarshini Nayak (BOMBAY TIMES; (October 9, 2010)
With glares and moustache, Vivek Oberoi reminds you of his father Suresh Oberoi, who’s a dynamic actor. Tell him this and he says with a laugh, “That’s the biggest compliment I have ever got, and I am very proud of it.” The actor is flaunting this new look for his upcoming film. In a chat with BT, Vivek speaks about his new makeover and more…
You started your career with Ram Gopal Varma’s film Company in 2002. Did you find any change in Ramu’s working style?
RGV is an actor’s director who deals with films related to reality, and working with him again was a great experience. Usually people tend to slow down with age, but I think RGV has become faster and he is making films at a much faster pace with age. This film, Rakht Charitra, is based on reality, it has real people and real ambience where I am playing the character of late Paritala Ravi, a politician, who was the former cabinet minister in Andhra Pradesh Government. It’s a story of a man who fights for justice and becomes the messiah of justice when the system denies that. For this role, I had to research a lot. I read many articles written on him and I saw many of his live interviews. But, it was very difficult to look, talk and walk like him initially.
And what about your new avatar with moustache?
Ek saal se paal pos ke bada kar raha hoon inn ko. So, I am really happy about this look. I am getting many negative as well as positive compliments for this too. Many of my friends say moustache suits me while girls say ‘please shave it off !’ (laughs).
This film has been simultaneously made in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Was it difficult to deliver dialogues in different languages?
RGV had given me a big break with Company and this time it’s my debut in Tamil and Telugu films. It was difficult to learn these languages, but assistants and unit hands helped me out. Once you were done with a shot, you had to shoot it all over again in a different language. It was tough, but fun too.
In the recent past we have seen you doing one or two films a year…
I won’t say I am going slow, but yes, I am getting very choosy. I am signing films, which I feel like doing and which my fans would like me to see in. After Prince, I had many offers, but I didn’t want to sign whatever came my way. Right now I am busy promoting my upcoming release, and after that I will start shooting for three films – one with RGV again, another with Mani Ratnam and also one with Kumar Taurani. All these three films are yet to be named.
Deepal Shaw on going deglam in a movie and her fetish for languages
Elina Priyadarshini (BOMBAY TIMES; October 9, 2010)
In her upcoming Marathi film, Deepal will go deglam. “In this film I am playing the main protagonist, who’s a software engineer and hails from a small village in Kolhapur,” says she and adds, “I have hardly done any make-up in the film. Though my mother tongue is Bhojpuri, I was born and brought up Mumbai.”
This ‘no makeup look’ is relegated to her current film only because the actress still loves to “sizzle on screen.” In yet another film Bangkok Blues, where she’s playing the lead opposite Irrfan Khan, Deepal will again be essaying a glamorous role. She says, “My character of Akansha Mishra in Bangkok Blues is totally different. She’s a very smart and modern girl.”
It’s nice to see her experimenting with genres, but ask her if her new simple avatar will affect her glam image, and she says, “You should have the power to attract people with your performance. Whether it’s a glam role or a simple one, it hardly matters. If you do good roles, audience will like you and watch you.”
Though two of her upcoming films have her playing the main lead, we have always seen her doing character roles till now. Ask her if she has now resolved to play only the lead roles and she says, “I don’t want to focus on lead roles alone, but I will take baby steps and do good films. Lead roles will come gradually.”
Apart from acting, the actress has a fetish for learning new languages. “I like learning new languages and I am very keen to learn Spanish,” says she. Deepal also loves playing hockey to unwind and admits that she is a sporty girl. “I am very fond of watching cricket, but my hectic schedule doesn’t allow me to watch many matches, though my dad keeps updating me,” she says.
Nandana Sen on matters close to her heart
Priyanka Dasgupta (BOMBAY TIMES; October 8, 2010)
There is an enigma surrounding you. How much of an intellectual is the real Nandana?
Hmmm… I think, I am more geeky than “intellectual”. I love to read books, yes, and I like to write too, but that’s just one part of me. There are so many other parts that are just as alive and urgent — that love to eat, to dance, to cook, to preen, to ride my bike, to play with my niece, to sing film songs (badly), to get drenched in the rain, to buy a pink suitcase, to be hugged by my mother, or be enchanted by a love letter…
Have you ever found yourself being objectified? If yes, how did you handle the situation?
Any woman in showbiz is lying if she says she’s never felt objectified. In fact, any woman — period. I have always, with no exception, rejected any role I felt would objectify me. But let’s understand one thing — being objectified is totally different from choosing to express one’s sensuality. In fact, they are absolute opposites. The former robs you of your humanity, while the latter celebrates it. Incidentally, men are equally objectified in our business. In a way, isn’t the whole entertainment world about turning a person into an object — a product or a “brand” — even if you are SRK?
You’ve been in a relationship for quite sometime now. Do you have any reservations about the trend of talking/advertising partners?
I think, it’s entirely up to the individual. I don’t believe in lying about it, even though that’s the norm for girls in this business. If I am in a relationship, you would never find me saying, “I am single and ready to mingle!” or “We’re just good friends”. But nor do I believe in making every detail public. In some ways, I am a very private person. But that’s just me.
Your on-screen character in Autograph is in a live-in relationship. Both on-screen and off it, do you think marriage is really very important in today’s age?
It depends entirely on the couple in question. In Autograph, the young lovers are best friends as well as passionately in love. Their dynamics show an intensely real, contemporary, non-‘filmi’ face of urban romance. Off- screen, I believe making a commitment to the one you love is very important — whether private or public. Just as a live-in relationship can have every strength and loyalty of a perfect marriage, I have seen marriages where spouses are happy to live separate lives, emotionally and/or sexually. I’m no prude, but a marriage like that would never work for me. I’m a die-hard romantic and would always prioritise loyalty and trust over a nominal social or public status with no true commitment within. That said, do I think I’ll get married one day? Absolutely!
Knowledge can sometimes be a baggage for an actor. Do you find it difficult to become a mould of clay in the hands of a director?
As an actor, I believe that nothing is more important than surrendering totally to the director’s vision. I may have questions, I may need to understand something better or differently, but I will always trust the director completely to make the right choice.
Pakistani drag artiste and Bigg Boss contestant Begum Nawazish Ali feels that her nation is crumbling but sexuality there is a non-issue
• Will you be in women’s clothing throughout the show?
It will have to be a 50-50. I’ve made it clear that we’re unique individuals. There are two atmaans in me: one male and one female. But playing a woman 24/7 is physically impossible. At the same time, playing the male full-time is not feasible, because the man in me can be boring. I know it’s going to be a tight ropewalk for me. It’s a balancing act.
• Will you flirt with the men on screen?
Main chote-mote baccho ke saath flirt kya karoongi? There is only one person jo mere standards ko match kar sakta hai and that is the Bigg Boss himself!
• The show must also be an escape from the horrific realities of Pakistan.
In the last few months, I’ve been extremely depressed about Pakistan. Hundreds of people dying, from floods, from fundamentalist violence, and that’s all you hear about in the news. I have to confess that I have been selfish in accepting this opportunity.
Being locked up for those many weeks might allow for some introspection in terms of how I can give something back to Pakistan, how I can play a slightly more proactive role in repairing it. But yes, I am escaping the bitter, unpleasant realities of a troubled nation.
It’s important for my own sanity.
• Can Pakistani citizens themselves be absolved from the mess they’re in? You guys have let the army run amuck, to say nothing of bedding Islamist terrorists via the ISI? Hasn’t elitism destroyed your nation?
I don’t see the army as an enemy. The army has actually been quite active in restoring the nation after the devastating floods we’ve faced. But there are elements in the army, there are elements in the political elite, there are elements in the judiciary.
You can’t blame an entire institution. As regards the ISI and its alleged complicity in stoking fundamentalist violence, you have to understand that the game in Pakistan is a little more complicated. There are a lot of international agencies that are very active.
There are the Americans with their own agenda, there is China, there is India, both of which have their own agendas as well, and then there is Iran, which is another ballgame altogether. Pakistan is caught in a web of many intrigues, and its citizens are helpless. With these many sinister mobs playing under the table games, people are more bothered about their rozi roti than khatra.
This is a trial by fire that Pakistan will have to go through, lekin Pakistaniyo ko jaagna padega. They will have to wake up and sacrifice land, property, money.
• How easy is it being gay in a theological democracy and increasing fundamentalism?
Sexuality is not on the list of priorities for the players in the scramble for Pakistan. As far as sexuality is concerned, it is a very personal business in Pakistan; everybody is free to be whatever they want to be. I’ve never heard of any discrimination based on sexuality, as far as men are concerned. Men, whether gay or straight, have their way in this male-dominated society.
…says the sexy Anoushka Shankar, who got married in London to filmmaker Joe Wright and is expecting his baby
Priyanka Dasgupta | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; October 2, 2010)
What’s it about Joe Wright that made you feel that he should be the father of your first baby?
Not just my first, I want him to be the father of all my babies! It’s such a cliché, but honestly, I could see myself having children with him within the first week of our relationship. Joe is the most wonderful, extraordinary man. He makes me feel cherished and safe… It’s easy to see what a loving, imaginative father he will be.
You have lived-in with Joe for some months. Was there any particular compulsion for you to tie the knot now?
Even though we moved in together ages ago, I always wanted to get married. I’m glad we lived together first as it gave us a good taste of the realities of our relationship! I don’t think it’s essential for everyone, but to me there is something sacred about taking vows and promising to love and honour each other.
Post-marriage, will you take your husband’s surname just the way your mother has done when she married Pandit Ravi Shankar? Or does the surname issue not bother you at all?
We’ve certainly enjoyed using the phrase Mrs Wright between ourselves since the wedding! But I would probably not change my name officially.
Was there any person you really wanted to attend your wedding but who never could?
We planned very quickly. So yes, many family members and friends couldn’t be there, which is why we will do celebrations later in the States and in India. Norah was obviously there, and hosted my mehendi party and was my maid-of-honour in a sense.
How does Joe inspire you in your career now? Does he keep a tab so that you don’t tax yourself too much with your concerts/tours/album work since you are pregnant now?
He has an incredible musical ear and does offer really valuable advice on my work. So, I take his counsel seriously as well. Now that I’m pregnant he does look out for me a lot more and constantly reminds me to rest and relax, which I’m not very good at!
Joe was supposed to make a film titled Indian Summer. Is there any update on that especially with his strong India connection?
We would both love if the film got made but there are no plans to get it rolling again at present that I know of. However, we’re both grateful it was even being looked at because we wouldn’t have met if he hadn’t come to India for that film!
In a saucy, hatke interview, Salman Khan unleashes his hilarious, wicked side
I keep an early alarm to wake up on time so that I can interview Chulbul Pandey aka Salman Khan. Zipping past the mad traffic to make it on time, I enter Mehboob Studio. Luckily the star hasn’t arrived. I wait for a few minutes and Sallu arrives with his entourage. The actor has his table-chair set outside his vanity van, where we sit under the hot sun discussing his new avatar as host on Bigg Boss 4. Excerpts from a fun rendezvous:
• If given an opportunity, would you go inside the Bigg Boss house and be locked up with the contestants with no connection with the outside world?
As long as there are no cameras inside, yes, I will.
• For how long can you remain disconnected from the outside world?
Let me see now.
• But will you experiment and go inside?
I have been in more difficult situations than the contestants of Bigg Boss can ever be in! And I have handled them pretty well I guess…So I don’t think it will be that much of a problem. It will be a party place for me. I like people, good people, great people.
• Who would be the first person you would make a call to apart from your parents after getting out?
(Thinks) Apart form my parents, I would call Ashvini (programming head of the channel) and ask her what to do next.
• The contestants discuss everything under the sun about their personal lives. Do you find it right?
That’s good na. It’s entertaining.
• Would you discuss your personal relationships in the house, seen and heard by everyone?
You guys discuss my personal life without even knowing it. That is what I find very amusing. So I don’t even react to it and nobody else also reacts to it. And now the fans have also stopped reacting to it. Now I am on Twitter ya, so whenever something comes up, they immediately tweet.
• Tell me five actors you would like to see in the Bigg Boss house together?
I would like Sanju to be here (Sanjay Dutt), Govinda, myself, Jackie (Jackie Shroff), Akki (Akshay Kumar). We all will have a blast.
• Five actresses?
Five names you choose. All are good.
• Five directors?
All the directors should remain outside and keep directing
• If you were locked in the house with Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham, Shah Rukh Khan, who would you eliminate?
Do I have to answer this question?
I have to? What if I don’t, then?
• You just have to say one person’s name!
I would eliminate myself.
• And if you are not in the house with them, who would you choose to eliminate?
(Loudly) If I am not in the house, I am not the Bigg Boss, then I don’t have the right to eliminate anybody. They can be in as longgg as they want.
• If you had Sangeeta Bijlani, Somy Ali and Aishwarya Rai in the house, who would you eliminate?
I would keep them all.
• You wouldn’t eliminate anyone?
(Long pause) I really really like Sangeeta and Somy. They are my friends.
• Which actresses, if inside, will have cat fights according to you?
I think the actresses nowadays are pretty chilled out. Because I have worked with most of them. They all get along. The way the heroes get along, the actresses get along.
• You mean actresses only get along on screen?
No, off screen also. Nobody is into each other’s work. They are all in their spaces.
• Every contestant is given a household duty to do? What duty would you take up?
I would take the duty of cooking.
• If given a chance, what would you cook?
Nothing! I’ll make such bad food for everybody that they will run away from my food.
• What is the hatke lingo you plan to use on this show?
I would use a lot of beep wali gaalis.
• Among the Hollywood celebrities, which star would you like to see as an inmate inside and why?
I have no idea. I don’t know anybody in Hollywood. I know my friends from here. This industry is Hollywood for me.
• Aren’t you disturbed that controversy never seems to leave you?
Doesn’t that disturb you guys?
• No, it doesn’t disturb us.
No? Then why should it disturb me?
• Why do people see you in a film and want to copy your style?
You are seeing what I am wearing (points out to his clothes). It is very easily affordable. Jeans, t-shirt, ek joota hai and my bracelet, kabse pehen raha hoon.
• Do you have any regrets from the past?
No, not at all.
Peepli (Live) director Anusha Rizvi is unlikely to participate in the excitement regarding the film’s Oscar nomination. She explains why
In a day and age when a person even remotely associated with a hit film shouts from the rooftops about it, Anusha Rizvi seems remarkably unaffected and detached. The journalist-turned-director might have given a huge hit with her debut film, but would rather tour with her theatre group than be part of a marketing jamboree.
How did you get to know about the Oscar nomination for Peepli (Live)?
From the media! I heard it on NDTV. It was of course very exciting. Maybe we should’ve been informed by the government agency that decides which film goes to the Oscars.
Didn’t your producer Aamir Khan inform you?
He didn’t know! He is in London for the release of our film.
Why aren’t you in London for the release of Peepli (Live)?
Because I have not been asked to be in London. It is my film. But I live in Delhi. And I have no connection with the decisions that are taken in Mumbai.
Why have you cut yourself away from your film?
That’s partly because of the person that I am. I can’t change that. And I’m happy being that way. My work finished when I made the film that I had to make.
Of course publicity and marketing are important. And a lot more people went to see Peepli (Live) because of the way it was promoted. But what is more important to me is that a film should be seen for what it is. I think it is important for the audience to discover a film on their own.
A film should not be pushed down people’s throats. It’s important for it to create its own credibility.
Changes were made in the Peepli narrative for the London market. Are you aware of this?
Yes. Only two scenes were tampered with: one featuring a reference to Saif Ali Khan and the other to TRPs.
These were scenes that were never part of the original screenplay. Like many other scenes they were added later to increase the running time of the film for the Indian market.
Initially the interval was coming after 40 minutes of playing time.
I don’t think Peepli (Live) needed an interval. I don’t think so either. But it’s an intrinsic part of marketing our film. And I’ve no quibble with it. However I wish the film had not been pushed as a comedy, although I know that so many people would not have seen it otherwise. Let’s be honest. Peepli (Live) was not easy to market.
The film has made huge profits.
Would you be expecting a larger budget for your next film?
The content of the film and not the success or failure of the earlier film should decide the budget.
The DVD of Peepli (Live) is out soon. Are you participating in its editing?
I’ve got nothing to do with the DVD. I’m back in Delhi. I’m simply cut off from Mumbai and the film now. My husband Mahmood Farooqui and I are back to travelling with our small theatre group.
Hasn’t Peepli (Live) changed your life in any way?
Yes, to some extent. It’s become difficult to travel by train. I really miss that.
Your husband co-directed Peepli (Live). Not too many people know that.
It’s in the credits of the film. And of course he’s the co-director. He has also done all the casting. In the credits after my names comes a long list of producers. Then his name. That’s why his name is missed.
Why is his name not in the credits jointly with yours?
These are things that we had no knowledge or control over. Our main concern was to make the film we had.
What has the experience of directing Peepli (Live) taught you?
It has taught me to deal with a large number of people. It has been a huge learning curve for me. I know how to cope better with the production part of a film the next time.
You’re the first debutant director from India after Satyajit Ray to be going to the Oscars.
Yes the comparisons between my film and Pather Panchali keep surfacing. But there can be no comparison between the two. And I’m not being modest.
Are you and your husband going to Los Angeles for the Oscars?
It’s really exciting to see the film go to the Oscars. But it’s far more exciting to know that people in Patna, Gorakhpur and Barabankhi are watching and discussing it. Like I said Peepli (Live) was a film that we had to make. That it’s touched people is a very happy situation for us.
Final question. Would Aamir Khan be producing your next film?
No, he won’t.