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Such A Long Journey

The filmmaker recalls with affection his three decade-long affair with Hindi cinema

I have completed 30 years in Hindi cinema…  30-long years and it surely has been one fabulous journey.

I distinctly remember coming to Mumbai with just ` 17 in my pocket and all I wanted to do was to make one film. I wanted it to be an outstanding film, one that I could be proud of. I remember making my debut with Murder At Monkey Hill in 1976. Like all aspiring filmmakers cinema fascinated me too. Thus when Murder At Monkey Hill won the National Award I was overwhelmed. From then on there was no
looking back.

After that I made a short documentary film called An Encounter With Faces that focused on the plight of destitute children. I then went on to make Sazaaye Maut in 1981. Later I came up with Khamosh, a suspense drama that took people by surprise.

However, it was Parinda that was my first hardcore commercial film that not only fetched me success but also awards. Parinda, a story about two brothers and a psychotic don turned out to be a landmark film for Indian cinema. It fetched me the Best Director Award. While taking the award on the stage, I realised that if there’s a will, there’s a way. And it took me back to the moment when I had just come with Rs 17 and nothing else and here I was collecting an award under the Best Director category. The rest simply followed and things just fell into place.

I knew that this is where I wanted to be. And over the years, with 15 films to my credit, I am proud to say that the journey has been wonderful.My passion is cinema and I wanted to pursue my passion. Success just followed. I am glad that my passion inspires people to give their best. That reminds me of an incident.

We were shooting for 1942: A Love Story and Anupam Kher was severely down with paratyphoid and in a very difficult and troublesome situation. But he still shot for the film. Later, he told me that it was my zeal that kept him going through the shoot. To what extent your passion can inspire people is unbelievable.

Yes, it is this zeal that fires a passion… a kind of obsession in me. In 2003, out of sheer enthusiasm I penned down Munnabhai MBBS, while for the first time handing over the directorial reigns to a new director – Rajkumar Hirani. The rest is history.

I am now looking forward to another turning point in my career as a producer and director – starting over in Hollywood with Broken Horses. After making so many successful films in India, which has been an extremely interesting experience, I want to explore the world.  I’ve learnt a lot from my interactions with world-class talent here and there. And the one thing that binds all of us is our love for cinema and our love to entertain people.

What are the lessons I have learnt over the years? I have always believed in chasing excellence and once that’s done it’s a battle won. And as I said earlier, the rest follows automatically.Also people ask me if I have made any plans for the future of my production house. Well, we will continue to focus on making films that we are proud of.

People also ask me why I have not directed a Hindi film after Eklavya in 2007. Right now all my energies are focused on Broken Horses and once I complete it, I will direct a Hindi film too. I also have to pay attention to two of my other pet projects – Tanuja Chandra’s Chithiyaan and Raju Hirani’s P.K.

So the journey has been very good. What has added to the pleasant experience and made this journey even more memorable and enjoyable is the great set of friends I have made on the way. Right from Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Sanjay Dutt, Raju Hirani to name a few. They all share my love for cinema.

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