Faridoon Shahryar's Blog


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Quest For After-Life

I may not have been apparently too keen while moving around in the historic Cairo Museum today but I was trying to absorb a lot more than the facts that were detailed to me. Tatunkhamen died when he was 18 years old but he earned phenomenal fame because of the way his dead remains were preserved or the 11 kg gold headgear that was prepared for him post his death. The statues at the museum had left feet forward symbolising a step towards After-Life.

Somehow I find this entire emphasis on After-Life funny specially when you are told about vain Kings who preserved the remains of their servants so that they can serve them once they enter their 'After-Life'. It is amazing how 4000 year old artefacts are preserved so brilliantly.

In the evening I witnessed magic at the light and sound show in the cradle of the glorious Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. Mr Amitabh Bachchan launched the 'India by the Nile' festival here. Earlier in the day Mr Bachchan addressed a press conference at the Marriott hotel in Cairo. The Egyptian media went crazy and there was a stampede situation. A few people actually fell down as the media personnel wanted to have a piece of Big B.

We are going to Alexandria tomorrow. I think it will be a very interesting trip.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The most memorable day of my life



It has been one of the most memorable days of my life. I was privileged to get up close and personal with the wonderful Sphinx and other magnificent Pyramids here in Cairo, Egypt. The ancient history that runs in thousands of years and why these Pyramids were built, the fear-n-preparations for after-life and the sturdy architecture that has stood the test of time...i absorbed it all with baited breath. Ironically, the sad state of Egyptian economy is a cause of concern. The souvinir vendors outside the Pyramids were wiling to sell their wares at dirt cheap prices. Their desperation was palpable. I genuinely hope the Tourism industry picks up again.

We had Egyptian lunch of this dish called Koshary. Its an Egyptian equivalent of Pasta. Very spicy and extremely tasty. We relaxed in the afternoon in our hotel. I swam for the second time during the day and it was very relaxing.

In the evening we went to Cairo Opera House where a Bollywood Dance workshop was taking place. Many Egyptian youngsters grooved to Bollywood songs. We moved over to Mariott Hotel where Mr Bachchan is staying. A very excited Indian community enthusiastically met Mr Bachchan and narrated their heartfelt views about him. Obviously Big B was overwhelmed. Later he was felicititated by the Egyptian community at India House. Nile river wafted along at one side of India House. It was sublimely pleasant and soothing to see quiet boats saunter along on the lighted water of History. I interviewed Mr Bachchan and it was wonderful talking to Big B. It was even more special because since yesterday I've met so many Egyptians who love him like crazy. It was wonderful chatting him up. It was great to see him happy. He also spoke about being conferred upon with Padma Vibhushan. I told him, I'll be happiest when he will be conferred upon with Bharat Ratna. If anyone deserves it then its him. Hope it happens.

I am writing this in the Bus as we are speeding towards the hotel. I am so tired that i couldn't have written the diary on reaching the hotel. So glad I could complete writing today's account even as my eyes are threatening to shut down :-)

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Amitabh Bachchan is God": Day 1 of my Egypt Diaries

"Amitabh Bachchan is God," said a shopkeeper in the busy local market in Cairo, Egypt. The entire day was spent being Bachchan-struck. Egypt seems to be majorly in love with Big B. Mr Bachchan will be the guest of honour at 'India by the Nile' festival in Cairo. He shall arrive in Cairo tomorrow on a chartered flight, will be felicitated by Indian and Egyptian dignitaries in two separate functions tomorrow March 30, 2015. March 31 will start with a press conference addressed by Mr Bachchan in the morning and end with a memorable evening at Pyramids with Big B.

The day started early for me as I boarded an Egypt Air flight in the morning. I read 'My name is Abu Salem' by Hussain Zaidi on the flight. Extremrly gripping book about the life and times of dreaded gangster Abu Salem. Some startling facts have been revealed in the book. I shall talk about the book in detail in a separate post.

The media delegation was escorted in a bus towards the hotel. Our guide was an amiable guy who proudly spoke about the colossal history of Egypt. He was realistic when he spoke about the adverse impact of the 2011 revolution that negatively impacted the tourism of this country to some extent. Cairo had a burgeoning populationb of 23 million and it boasts of 4 million cars. Petrol is extremely cheap at 3 liters inn1 USD.

We are staying at Movenpick hotel in Cairo that overlooks Pyramids. The first sight of the massive beauties was a surreal experience.

In the evening we met Mr Navdeep Suri, the Ambassador of India in Egypt at India House. Magnificent view of Nile from his house was a treat. Mr Suri came across as a genuine guy who has made solid efforts to create awareness about Indian culture in Egypt and in promoting Indians thronging Egypt as a tourist destination.

We shall be going for a city tour in Cairo tomorrow. We shall be going for a couple of days to the historically refined city of Luxor. I am really looking forward to absorbing every single experience during this trip. Bring it on! As of now...looking forward to a good night's sleep. Catch you later :-)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sculpting an illustrious future

This is a poem that I've written for Hanzla, 6 year old son of my friend Tauheed Mahtab

Seeds of inquisitiveness 
Talent for intuitiveness
Handsomeness comes easy
He is always busy
Starting early with technology
Understands human psychology
The parents are doting
He's good at noting
The changes in the world are external
Real men are made in the Mind, it's all internal
Time is sculpting an illustrious future
Sky is the limit,see the big picture
Hope you open up your horizons and accept everyone
You lead, show it to all, we are all one!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Invigorating Conversation With Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam

February 16, 2015

The first look promo of NH10 is extremely engaging. When you like a promo and then you are meant to interview the lead actors then it's always fun. Anushka Sharma is articulate and it's always fun chatting up with her. I've interviewed Neil Bhoopalam once and the fact that I watched all the episodes of 24, I like him as an actor and is a down to earth fun guy so it's good fun conversing with him. The conversation with Anushka and Neil veered from NH10, the experience of making the film and has Neil ever been told by a girl before,"screw the party and just make mad love" (dialogue in NH10 promo). Anushka spoke about her choice of films and how she ended up producing-acting NH10 even though she wasn't the first choice of the film. I took a few fan questions too. It is always fun taking up fan questions as one gets a different perspective. It's a long interview and I am sure all you guys will hopefully like it. Coming soon #TalkingFilms































Tuesday, October 7, 2014

“For Best Advice On Commercial Films, Go To Shah Rukh Khan”: Naseeruddin Shah

“For Best Advice On Commercial Films, Go To Shah Rukh Khan”: Naseeruddin Shah  
By Faridoon Shahryar

I don’t consider ‘Sholay’ as a great film and I’ve written three pages about it in my book ‘And then one day’,” said Naseeruddin Shah in an interview to a group of journalists including me in Abu Dhabi recently. Shah has a way with words and he doesn’t hold anything back, nor does he turn politically correct at any point of time. Laced with a razor sharp sense of humour and heart-tugging self admissions, Naseer sahib opens up on his views on ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, his views on Mr Bachchan as a great communicator, the efforts that he is making to open up with his children, what advice he gave to son Vivaan Shah, his passion for theater, his views on remakes, why he agreed to be a part of ‘Welcome Back’ and why good writing is the most important ingredient for theater as well as films.



Lot of people were surprised when you signed ‘Welcome Back’ because you are generally not associated with such comic capers…
Why? I have done films like ‘Mujhe Mere Biwi Se Bachao’, ‘Zinda Jala Doonga’, ‘Tridev’ and ‘Tehelka’! I have worked with great directors like Anil Sharma. Toh fir kyon hairat hoti hai? Pata nahin logon ko lagta hai ki yeh commercial filmon mein kaam kyon karta hai? Abhi mujhse sawaal poochte hai log ki aapki jo art films thi, woh badi achchi thi; to ye commercial filmein kyon kar rahe hai. To main 3-4 art filmon ka naam leta hoon aur puchta hoon ki aapne ye dekhi hai. To woh bolte hai ki humne nahin dekhi. Fir bhi woh chahte hai ki main unhi filmon mein kaam karoon, inme naa karoon. It seems like I’m doing something wrong!

When you did ‘Tirchi Topiwale’, lot of people thought that you have sold out to commercial cinema…
Yeah, they were fools to think that. The third film of my career was a commercial film with Rajshri Productions called ‘Sunayana’. Uske gaane abhi tak chalte hai. Total flop thi woh…woh alag baat hai. But main iss baat ka jawab dete dete thak gaya hoon. I did not one day cross over to commercial cinema. I was always doing commercial cinema. Woh filmein kisi ne dekhi nahin. To isme mera koi kasoor nahin hai. ‘Sunaina’, ‘Shayad’, ‘Khwab’, ‘Pyaara Dost’, ‘Tajurba’, ‘Haadsaa’, ‘Swami Dada’ ye saari filmein maine ki thi at the beginning of my career. Phir bhi logon ka yeh kuch yakeen hai ki ek din maine art cinema ko daga dekar commercial filmein karna shuru ki. Haalaki sach yeh hai ki maine art filmein karna kabhi bhi bandh nahin ki. Main unhe criticize zaroor karta tha par unme kaam bhi main karta tha. Aur aaj main commercial filmon mein bhi kaam karta hoon. I have always tried to do both kinds of films.

There is a general perception that you’ll say yes to a script if it’s very good. People generally think that if Naseer bhai is doing it, it means it has a good script. So when you do an out-and-out Anees Bazmee commercial film, people raise their eyebrows…
‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ naam ki bhi film ki thi maine. Main filmein choonta hoon on instinct. Kabhi bhi koi script sunn kar ye andaza nahin lagaya ja sakta ki yeh film kaisi banegi. Aisa bhi tajurba raha hai ki achchi script pe bahut buri filmein bani hai aur kamzor scripts par bahut saari achchi filmein bhi ban gayi hai. So you have to go by your instinct ki mera jee chaha raha hai ya nahin. Bas, that’s the only criteria. Ab jee chaha sakta hai kisi bhi wajah se. ‘Jackpot’ jaisi film ko karne ko mera jee chaha kyonki mujhe paise bahut mil rahe the.

Also Sunny Leone was there…
(Laughs) Frankly, she was not an enticement. But I did ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ kyonki script bahut achcha tha. Mujhe woh director bahut achcha lagta hai. There was Madhuri Dixit which was also a very good reason. ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ maine isliye ki kyonki hum chaar log the – Kay Kay Menon aur Atul Kulkarni – aur humne socha ki bahut mazaa aayega. So for each film, there is a different reason.

‘Chaalis Chaurasi’ jaisi filmon ko dekh ke kabhi aapko aisa lagta hai ki aapne apne aap ko sahi dhang se kharch kiya hai ya aisa lagti hai ki fizul kharchi kari apni?
Nahin, fizul kharchi mein nahin manta main. Kyonki jo bhi kuch maine kiya hai, bhale hi woh galat saabit hua hai, maine apne choice se kiya. Mujhe pachtava bilkul bhi nahin hai apne kisi bhi decision par. Main acting isliye karta hoon kyonki mujhe acting karne mein bada mazaa aata hai. Aur agar mujhe ek bhela bhi na milta, to bhi main acting hi karta rehta. Yeh to meri khushnaseebi hai ki mujhe paise milte hai acting karne ke. Toh mujhe koi bhi cheez wasted nahin lagi. Buri se buri film bhi maine ki hai. Ab iss umeed se toh maine nahi ki ye kitni buri film hai, mujhe isme kaam karna chahiye! Maine socha ki shayad theek thak ban jaaye, par nahin bani. Aisi bahut saari serious filmein bhi hai jo bahut buri hai. Bahut buri bani hai. Jin par mujhe bahut umeed thi. To yeh toss of the coin hai each time. Ab Neeraj Pandey jab aaya tha mere pass ‘A Wednesday’ le kar, mujhe kuch bhi nahin malum tha Neeraj ke baare mein. Usne ek film bhi nahin banayi thi. Shoaib Mansoor Pakistan se jab aaye mere liye ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ ke liye, mujhe kuch nahin malum tha unke baare mein. Aur similarly ‘The Coffin Maker’ naam ki behad manhoos film bani hai jo maine dekhi nahin hai aur na main kabhi dekhoonga, uss director ke baare mein bhi mujhe kuch nahin malum tha. Aur ussi bharose ke saath I entered into that film. But it turned out to be very, very bad.

But those who have seen ‘The Coffin Maker’ have praised it.
Haan, log taarif karte hai uski. Mujhe awards bhi mile hai uske liye. Par award to kisi bhi baat pe mil jaata hai.

People even say that it’s the best performance of Naseeruddin Shah…
Badi achchi baat hai aisa hai toh!

Director Veena Bakshi has been quite upset…
Let her be upset.

She alleges that you were paid Rs 1.5 crore for the film merely for promoting it..
No I was not. She is lying through her bloody teeth if she says that. I never demanded extra money. I just refused to work with her anymore. She did not know the front side of the camera from the backside.

So you play a don in ‘Welcome Back’ and apparently your character is blind…
Yes. Real blind, not like ‘Mohra-blind’!

So how was the character of playing a blind character and a don?
It is like doing a parody of my ‘Sparsh’ performance. But yeh ek Anees Bazmee ki genre ki film hai. To jo Anees bhai ko chahiye tha, woh maine unko dene ki koshish ki.
You played Duryodhan in ‘Jaane bhi do yaaron’ in the climax, can one equate this character with that?  

Haan, over the top performance hai. Subtle performance bilkul nahin hai. Kyonki Anees Bazmee ki filmein subtlety nahin maangti. So you have to enter into the film with whatever is the spirit of the film. If I am doing a film like ‘Aakrosh’ or a film like ‘Sparsh’, to usme ek different sensibility ki zaroorat hoti hai. Anees Bazmee ki filmon mein ek alag tarah ki sensibility ki zaroorat hoti hai. You have to enter into that sensibility. Meri galti thi kayi dafaa ki main sochta tha ki kya bakwaas ban raha hai but it’s not a good attitude.

Shiney Ahuja is playing your son in the film. People are judgmental about him since he is having a past. So how do you deal with that?
Well, I feel very bad because I think Shiney is a very good actor. Maine usse pehli baar dekha tha TV ke kisi ad mein jisme woh kehta hai ki ‘I hate cricket’ followed by ‘score bata yaar’. That time itself it struck me ki ye ladka bahut achcha actor hai. I liked his work very much in ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’. In fact, when I made my film, I wanted to cast him but he was too busy. I’ve always liked Shiney aur jo bhi hua uss bechare ke saath, bahut bura hua. Ab yeh mujhe nahin malum uss maamle ki sachchai kya hai but I like Shiney and I wish him well and I hope woh apne career ko wapas rails pe laa sake.

Sir, if ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’ is being remade, how would you feel?
I will not see it!

I believe Firoz bhai (Nadiadwala) has got the rights…
No, Firoz has the rights to make a sequel. But sequel ban hi nahin sakta na. Ravi Baswani ke bagair we can’t make a sequel. Duniya mein koi actor nahin hai jo Ravi ko replace kar sake. That’s what I feel but Firoz feels differently. Aur baat-cheet chal rahi hai Firoz ki aur Kundan ki.

If you are asked to play a role in the sequel…
Of course I will, if Kundan is directing it. ‘Masoom’ remake bhi sunna ban rahi hai. Khuda malum kyon bana rahe hai. ‘Masoom’ jaisi kahaani aaj ke duniya mein relevant hai hi nahin, ki ek bachcha apne baap ka pata nahi laga paaya dus saal tak in the world of Facebook and FaceTime and bloody pata nahin kya kya aa gaya hai. I consider ‘Masoom’ one of the best Hindi films ever made. Kya zaroorat hai dobara banane ki?

Do you believe in remakes?
Hamari industry mehnat karne se bahut ghabrati hai. But then at least they are admitting that they are remaking a film. Pehle toh admit nahin karte the na. What is ‘Deewaar’ but a remake of ‘Ganga Jamuna’? Bilkul wohi kahaani hai…bilkul ussi tarah ke emotional twists hai! Sab kuch bilkul waisa ka waisa hai. Ek Dhanno nahin hai bas usme. But otherwise, it’s the same. It’s a remake. ‘Shaan’ is a remake of ‘Sholay’. However, the former is set in the city. Kya fark hai ‘Shaan’ aur ‘Sholay’ mein bataaiye aap mujhe? Sholay mein uske haath kat jaati hai, ‘Shaan’ mein uski taange kat jaati hai. ‘Sholay’ mein daaku hai; ‘Shaan’ mein ganje ek baithe hue kahin. But it’s the same. ‘Taange’ pe gaane ke bajay BEST bus par gaana hai. So we’ve always been doing that. But now ab woh maan rahe hai ki haan bhai, hum wohi film bana rahe hai dobara. Kai aisi filmein ki remake ho rahi hai jo banni hi nahin chahiye thi, in the first place!

Have you seen any remakes?
No I haven’t bothered to see any remakes. ‘Chashme Badooor’ ka remake dekhne ki takleef maine nahin ki. Aur ‘Agneepath’ maine pehla waala bhi nahin dekha tha aur ye waala (remake) bhi nahin dekha.

You famously said that you felt ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ is fake..
Aapko nahin lagi? To itna udham kyon mach gaya? Itna toofan kyon ho gaya? Meri samaj mein nahin aata. Aap Milkha Singh ki 1960 Olympics ki tasveerein dekh lijiye. Aur Farhan Akhtar ko dekh lijiye. Bas…aur mujhe kuch kehne ki zaroorat nahin hai.

Shabana Azmi has said that Naseer is entitled to his opinion but 90 % of India doesn’t agree with him…
If they cannot agree, I don’t care. My opinion is my opinion. Main yeh nahin keh raha ki koi mere saath sehmat ho. Main toh apna opinion bata raha hoon. Ab Shabana Azmi kehti hai ki unke rongte khade ho gaye performance dekh ke. Theek hai, hue honge bhai. Mere nahin hue. Aur maine Farhan ki performance ko criticize nahin kiya. Farhan ne bahut mehnat ki. Jaan laga di usne. Lekin usko jo guidance mila, usko main criticize kar raha hoon. Usko Rocky jaisa bana diya; Milkha Singh jaisa bilkul nahin tha woh.

But does this spoil your relation with Javed Akhtar and Shabana because you’ve worked with Shabana…
I don’t know. I don’t see why it should. Kyonki agar Shabana aur Javed saab mere kaam ko criticize karein, to iska matlab to nahin hai ki main unse baat-chit karna bandh kar doonga. I have a right to say what I feel and they have a right to say what they feel. Aur waise bhi, aisa koi meri gehri dosti nahin hai Shabana se ya Javed saab se. I know them. I consider them associates, not friends.

Prasoon Joshi had said on your criticism that “I wrote the film with a common man in mind and the film has moved and connected with people at large and across segments. It was not meant to be a documentary or a niche film”…
Who is saying that he should have made a documentary? I am asking, why did you call it Milkha? Kuch aur naam de dete aap. Why did you call it Milkha and claim that it was based on facts? If it was, then the least you could have done was to have Farhan look like Mikha Singh physically. Aur Milkha bhi bade khush hue dekh kar ki ‘haan, main to aisa hi handsome aadmi tha’! ‘Ye bilkul sach hai, meri life bilkul aisi thi’. Ab koi mere baare mein koi film banaye aur George Clooney ko cast karein, to main khush hounga ki nahin? Mera sirf criticism yeh hai ki I really wanted to see a truthful film about Milkha Singh. And I am sorry to say, it was not a truthful film. Prasoon Joshi kuch bhi defence dete rahe. Maine theatre mein dekhi hai. Mujhe malum hai ladkiyaan seetiyaan baja rahi thi aur chilla rahi thi, cheekh rahi thi. Aur log rote bhi hai. Pakistan ko aap do gaaliyan de do, sab log taaliyan bajate hai hall mein. What I hated most about ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was using this bloody jingoistic nonsense to mock Pakistan.

It is factually incorrect as well as the Pakistan race happened before the Olympics but in the film it’s shown as vice versa…
Yeah exactly. The whole film is factually incorrect.

If someone proposes to make a film on your life, will you agree?
Naah, unless meri pasand ka koi director woh film banaye. And I think the only one I would entrust would be someone like Shekhar Kapur kyonki uski filmmaking abilities ko main bahut manta hoon. Aur woh mujhe kaafi had tak achchi tarah se jaanta bhi hai aur chahta bhi hai. I wouldn’t just let anybody make a film on my life. Meri life pe film kaun banayega yaar?!

Actors today often say that they are merely entertainers. However, some of the yesteryear actors like Balraj Sahni tried to bring social changes as well. So do you think that artists should feel more obliged in contributing to the society as well?
Mera koi bhi political affiliation nahin hai. Mere koi bahut zyaada political opinions bhi nahin hai. I find politicians very amusing. I can’t take them seriously. Aur jo log actors ho kar political activism karte hai, main admire zaroor karta hoon unko. Woh apne conviction ke hisaab se karte hai lekin mujhe lagta hai ki aapko apne daayre ke andar rehkar sabse pehle apna farz adah karna chahiye. Agar aapko politics mein ghusne ka itna shauk hai, toh pehle hi aapko chale jaana chahiye tha politics mein. Aap acting ki platform pe khade hoke politics mein kyon jaa rahe hai? To main manta hoon ki meri jo zimmedaari hai samaj ke taraf ya mere bandhuon ki taraf, usko main nibhata hoon by doing the kind of theatre which I do and by helping in educating young actors. Mere khayal se meri sabse pehli social responsibility yeh hai ki maine apne field mein rehkar jo kuch kar sakta hoon, who karoon. Hum log sab duniya ko badalne chal padte hai aur lal batti par hum rukte nahin hai traffic light par. Aur duniya ko hum badalne jaa rahe hai. Agar aapke ghar mein jo paudha ugg raha hai, agar aap usme paani nahin daal sakte, to aapko kya khaak fark padega ki rainforests tabah ho rahe hai. Pehle to apne aap ko sudharna padega, samaj ko sudharne se pehle.

What do you have to say about Vivaan? He’s coming up with ‘Happy New Year’…
I wish him luck! I am very happy that he’s working with someone like Farah. Mujhe Farah ki filmein bahut achchi lagi except for ‘Tees Maar Khan’. ‘Om Shanti Om’ I think was a fantastic movie. Maine 2-3 baar dekhi hai. Meri ek film thi ‘Hero Hiralal’. ‘Om Shanti Om’ was like a remake of ‘Hero Hiralal’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’ got it right. Aur Farah ko jo unashamed love for commercial cinema hai, woh mujhe bada achcha lagta hai. Aur woh bahut maze le kar film banati hai. Meri isse badi dua koi ho hi nahin sakti ki meri favourite commercial director ke saath mein mera beta launch ho. Sab mujhse puchte hai ki aapne kya advice diya. Vivaan ko maine koi advice nahin diya. Maine usse kaha bete, Shah Rukh Khan se advice lo. Usse behtar koi nahin hai tumhe advice dene waala for acting in commercial films. Acting in commercial films mujhe aaj tak samaj mein nahin aayi kaise hoti hai. Toh I have left him in the hands of Shah Rukh Khan and Farah Khan aur mujhe poora bharosa hai un dono par.

Vivaan had said in an interview that “We have a very honest relationship, but I am intimidated by him as well. And it is something that bothers him as well, as he would like people to be able to be more free with him…”
Yeah, it bothers me that even with my children, there’s always a little bit of a distance. Malum nahin kyon. People in the industry tell me that they are frightened of me and so on. I don’t understand why. Maine ek hi producer ko toh maara hai apni zindagi mein! Do (producer ko maara hai), sorry! Do producer aur ek director, teen!

Sir, something about your sense of humour. Also, you can laugh at yourself which is phenomenal as well…
Yeah, that is what everybody is liking so much about my book because people didn’t suspect that I have a sense of humour. I like funny films. And I don’t believe in taking myself seriously. And I have tried that my children should not take me seriously. Jis level ki dosti main karna chahta tha apne bachchon se, I am still working at it.

Coming back to your statement on Farhan Akhtar, why is that whenever you say something about someone, it always (turns into) a huge controversy. Like it happened in the case of Mr Bachchan also…
What did I say about Mr Bachchan?

You said that you don’t consider him as the greatest actor of Indian Cinema…
I never said anything like that. What I did say was I liked his earlier performances better. An actor is remembered via the movies he did. Aap duniya ke sabse gifted actor honge, par agar aapne aisi film nahin ki hai jo yaad rahegi, toh aapko bhi koi nahin yaad karega. An actor cannot be better than the film he is in. That’s what I probably said about Mr Bachchan. I may have criticized some of his performances but I am a great admirer of the man. See the way he handles ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. It’s fantastic. After being such a star, to be able to make a connection with every common man who comes to his programme is a phenomenal achievement. And I consider him a very, very fine actor.

You also said that you don’t consider ‘Sholay’ as a great film…
That I don’t and I have written 3 pages in my book about it.

If you judge your films objectively, then which are the films that you consider memorable?
I think films like ‘Manthan’, ‘Masoom’, ‘Sparsh’, ‘Mirch Masala’, ‘A Wednesday’ will be remembered. So, I might be remembered also!

Something about theatre because you are one of the few actors who actually devote so much time for dramatics…
Yes because I love theatre. Aur theatre ka karz main utaar nahin sakta zindagi bhar alawa iss tarah se ki main zindagibhar theatre ki kidmat karta rahoon. Aur isliye bhi kyonki mujhe theatre karne mein mazaa bahut aata hai. Ab kyon aata hai, ye mujhe nahin malum. I will continue doing it, until I can stand on my own feet. Jab nahin chal paoonga, tab wheelchair pe baith ke theatre karoonga. Aur jab main mar jaunga, tab mere jo students hai, woh karte rahenge. But I can never give up theatre. Kyonki mujhe apne being pe jo confidence hai aur jo kuch bhi mera education raha hai, it has all been through theatre.

You have directed many films but you have directed only one film…(Yun hota to kya hota)
Yeah and I’ll not direct another film. Film direction mere bas ki baat nahin hai.

But you made a good film…
Thank you, but I don’t think so. It was not a good film from my standards. Agar main itna harsh dusro ke baare mein ho sakta hoon to apne baare mein bhi utna hi harsh hona chahiye ye main manta hoon. Uss film mein bahut khamiya thi. I feel ashamed sometimes about it. The fact that it flopped does not bother me. But utni achchi film jitna banana chahta tha, who main nahin bana saka aur uske kayi kaaran hai. I am basically not a filmmaker, I am a theatre person. I enjoy directing in the theatre more.

How do you remember your colleagues like Farooq Sheikh, Ravi Baswani?
Dost the, azeez log the. Farooq Sheikh ko to main bahut hi achcha actor manta tha. Apni sehat ka khayal jo nahin rakhega jo insaan, toh fir yehi hoga na. Bahut bada jatka laga mujhe Farooq aur Ravi dono ke intakaal se.

There are many people who want to make a living out of theatre. They do it out of passion but they hold themselves back thinking that there’s no money in theatre. Do you think that would ever change?
No, it will never change. Theatre will always be a marginal activity. It will be only for the few crazy people who love it unconditionally and without any rational reason. Bahut se log mujhse puchte hai ki theatre kyon nahin itna popular hai jitna hamari filmein hai. Toh mera kehna yeh hai ki agar hum chahte hai ki theatre utna hi popular ho jitna hamari filmein hai, to jis tarah ki filmein hai, uss tarah ka humein theatre karna padega! To aap chahenge kya ki aap theatre par bhi David Dhawan jaisi film dekhein? Mere khayal se nahin chahenge aap. Aur film ki jo coverage hai screening hai. Ek film laakhon log dekh sakte hai ek hi waqt pe. Theatre mein yeh mumkin nahin hai.

Would you like to put up your plays on digital platforms?
No, because it just doesn’t work. No camera can capture the life. Nandita Das koshish kar rahi hai filmaane ki natakon ko. It’s a foolish exercise. Woh natak bahut bure lagte hai on film. Aur woh 100 saal baad bhi dekhe jaayenge aur log hasenge unpar.

Don’t you think that the government while giving permission to set up so many multiplexes should tell the owners to set up a dramatics auditorium as well?
Distributors ko kaun samjhayega? Rajat Kapoor ki bahut hi behtareen film aayi thi ‘Ankhon Dekhi’. It’s one of the best films I have seen in recent times. Woh ek hafta chali. Kyonki uski koi publicity nahin thi. Aur agle hafte koi monstrous Hindi film aane waali thi jisne saari screens book up kar rakhi thi. To kya kiya jaaye? Our only hope is to make films as cheaply as possible, taaki unki recovery mein utni mushkil na ho. Kyonki utne log aayenge hi nahin aisi filmon ko dekhne jitni ek Salman Khan ki film ko dekhne jaate hai. Hum yeh umeed hi kyon karein ki hamari film itni badi hit hogi aur 100 crore kamayegi?

Do you believe in the entire obsession over Oscar in our industry?
Meri samaj mein nahin aata ki kyon bhaagte hai hum Oscar ke peeche. Oscar mein rakha kya hai? Oscar utna hi bogus hai jitna koi bhi Pan Parag award.

And what about National Awards?
Usme bhi lobbying hoti hai. Aur jo log ye awards decide karte hai, woh saare out of work filmmakers hai. Mujhe koi kadar nahin inn awards ki.

What’s the importance of writing in both plays and films?
It is crucial aur wohi to kami hai hamare industry mein. Writers hai hi nahin. Nakal karne waale log hai. Aur nakal bhi theek se nahin kar paate. Lack of good writing is the bane of our industry.

But regional cinema comes up with films boasting of great stories. Don’t you think that we should take a step backward to rethink and give the writers the rightful importance?
Now, it’s too late. Salim-Javed ne writers ki value badhayi. Unki wajah se writers ko aaj kal paise achche milte hai. But it’s too late as Hindi films have gone beyond redemption point. Ab who aur badi hoti jaayengi. 100 crore, fir 200 crore, fir 1000 crore…that is the only criterion. That is the only thing anybody in the Bombay film industry is worried about. Quality of films and writing isn’t of any importance.

How much time and effort does it to take to develop a Hindi play?
Woh depend karta hai ki tarah ka play hai. Hum log jis tarah ka natak karte hai, usme bahut kam kharcha hota hai. Theatre mein essential cheez do cheezein hai – one, the actor and two, the text. Aur kisi teesri cheez ki zaroorat nahin hai natak karne ke liye.

And what about cost?
‘Ismat Apa Ke Naam’ hamara bahut ki kamyaab natak hai jo hum dus saal se karte aa rahe hai usme mushkil se humne 10-15000 kharche kiye honge.

Theater has given lot of actors to cinema. So don’t you think producers should be generous enough in supporting Theater?


Kyon de? Woh laakh rupaye doobenge nahin? Woh lakh rupaye tab denge jab uss lakh ke sau lakh ban jaaye. Artist wartist se kya lena dena? It amuses me frankly ki kitni paise ki bhookh ho sakti hai. Jin logon ke pass godamon mein bhara pada hai paisa, unhe bhi ab tak paise ki bhook hai.

What do you have to say about the PR machineries?
Maine aaj tak koi PR nahin rakha!

And how do you take care of your health, despite being so busy?
Main yoga ki class mein jaata hoon. Main har roz kuch na kuch sports zaroor khelta hoon. Horse riding ka mujhe behad shauk tha. Woh ab choot gaya kyonki meri kamar jawab de gayi hai. Lekin apne aap ko sehatmand rakhna actor ki zimmedaari hai. Aap audience se yeh nahi keh sakte ki uss din meri tabiyat kharaab thi. They are not interested! And gussa aata hai mujhe Smita Patil, Farooq Sheikh jaise logon pe. Mohan Gokhale mera bahut achcha dost tha. Heart attack ke baad bhi who sharaab peeta raha.

How pivotal was ‘Jalwa’ for you? That’s when we saw the physique of yours…

It was one of the most enjoyable shoots I have done in my life. ‘Jalwa’ shooting karte waqt mujhe aisa lagta tha ki main udd sakta hoon. And I did every single stunt in the film myself. I did some stunts which people don’t believe I did. I just felt I am indestructible. I don’t think I had so much confidence in myself ever in any movie. Uske baad Pankaj Parashar ne koi dhang ki film banayi nahin. Uska bhi mujhe afsos hai. ‘Jalwa 2’ ki baat karta rehta hai woh. Lekin woh bani nahin abhi tak.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mountains Of Hope

This is a poem I wrote for Aania, daughter of my friend Asif Siddiqui. Hope you like it. 


Innocent eyes
Stare at the world
Hoping for Change,
To obliterate boundaries,
Dreaming of
Inclusiveness,
Rising above
The name
And the religion
That tags along,
Asking questions
Not from others
But herself,
My identity
Is by my Work
And nothing else..
Don't judge me,
Look at the footprints
In the snow
I am going to climb
Mountains of Hope
Come along
Join me,
Come with me....