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Dare To Be Different

To take Indian cinema forward, we must ask ourselves: are we obsessed with the number game or are we in it to break new ground?

Why let a dud become an obstacle in your path? Take Kites, for instance. I didn’t face any problems after that movie. This is going to sound bold but it’s nothing but a myth that you’re only as good as your last film. As long as other professionals believe in your art, the rest is easy.

I know Kites didn’t do well in India but it was a big success story in the international market. The vision behind that film was different and we all know that Rakesh Roshan is a hardcore filmy guy. With Kites, which was in Hindi and Spanish, he was targeting that market and he did it successfully. As for box-office collections, it was not a flop as it made close to Rs 90 crore overseas.

Kites came after three consecutive successes. And when I started working on Barfi!, everyone said, ‘Kites flop ho gayi, why are you making Barfi! now? Make something relevant.’ But I was determined to make something different. After Kites, masala films were the in-thing, so every producer wanted to make a masala film. I don’t understand what masala means. Every film is entertaining, whether it’s a romantic film or an action film, and so is Barfi!

After Kites, I started working on Barfi! and Ranbir (Kapoor) easily accepted the film. People who watched Kites know me as a filmmaker. So maybe actors had confidence in me. The Kites ‘failure’ didn’t affect me at all because I was very satisfied with my work. After the film flopped, I wanted to experiment with my script. All my past work, Saaya, Murder, Gangster or Life In A… Metro… every film was different and there’s always been a section of the audience who has liked these films.

And, no, I didn’t start with a bang as my first film Kucch Toh Hai didn’t do well. It was followed by Saaya and then Murder, which established me as a director. When I started directing, my first two films were flops and I was working with newcomers. But it was with Gangster that I found my groove and the right path. Gangster was my story. It was a film I wanted to make, a story I wanted to tell.

I started my career in the television industry and made many serials. I wanted to start making films but it was a time of DVD rip-offs. Everyone was making those types of films and I thought if I said no, I may not get a break. I had the opportunity to work with Vishesh Films. Gangster was an original film, a completely new story. So, in order to get a foothold in the industry, I had to follow the trend. Kites was also an original film and so is Barfi! Now I don’t need to follow other filmmakers.

India has left a mark, globally, in the field of sports, literature and education. It is high time we left a mark in cinema too. I attend many film festivals, and when I ask people overseas what they know about Indian cinema, they mention only Mira Nair and Shekhar Kapur as filmmakers.

It is time we made films that would cater to the international market. So we have directors like Anurag Kashyap, who are making desi dabanggs. We need more directors who can take up different subjects. And it’s not that we don’t have talented directors. Alas, either they are attached to a production house or are making the same, old type of films. They need to break the mould and do something hatke.

People in the trade need to realise that if we go international, we will make ten times more money than we are making in India. But no one wants to take a chance. Admittedly, it’s not easy. Take the recent release, Harud. Only the director knows what he went through to release his film even though he had screened it at practically every film festival. Then PVR gave him the space. Filmmakers need to open their minds to different kinds of cinema. The audience has changed. Very soon, Hollywood will gobble our share. In fact, they have already begun doing that. If we don’t wake up to this, we may not have an industry in the next 20 to 50 years!

It is therefore paramount that we make cinema that we believe in rather than play the numbers game. Yes, we need the big stars but if your story doesn’t demand a big name, why chase them? Why not work with newcomers? I have made films with newcomers and they have worked. Alternatively, I have done films with A-listers and they have bombed.

It’s all about experimenting and venturing into new territories. The question is: are you aiming for box-office records or making quality films? I want to make quality films.


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