NAGPUR TODAY TALKS TO SHOWMAN SUBHASH GHAI
Subhash Ghai’s upcoming movie and bigger hope ‘Kaanchi’ has these words in the opening line of its title song – ‘kadak dhoop aur thandi chhaon, ek akeli pura gaaon…’ As Ghai puts it, “These words completely define the theme of Kaanchi… kadak dhoop (intense sun) here indicates all those harsh realities of life like corruption, evils and bad people and thandi chhaon (cool shade) calls for the happy moments, full of simplicity without any stain…and this is what takes my protagonist further in her journey as the song adds …ek akeli pura gaon… which means she is the sole person in the entire village who stands up for every bad thing…”
The master story-teller and Bollywood’s showman Subhash Ghai has donned the director’s hat after a long time post the debacle of his multi starrer ‘Yuvraaj’ having Salman Khan and Anil Kapoor playing the leads.
The showman who has given us the most memorable hits like Karz, Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes and Taal was once considered as the man with magical wand who cast spell on the audience and takes them to the mesmerizing journey through his films. But he too had tasted some bitter part as his last movies Yaadein, Kisnaa and Yuvraaj bombed at box office.
Not the man to be defeated so easily, Ghai has stood up once again to present ‘Kaanchi’ to his audience.
Ahead of Kaanchi’s release this Friday, Nagpur Today gets up, close and personal with Subhash Ghai …The Excerpts..
How did Kaanchi happen?
I took time off to reinvent. Another setback was when after 10 years the government declared Whistling Woods invalid. For two years I was occupied with the court case. The court case is still going on. It’s the government’s slip and I hope they do something about it. But through all this, I was yearning to make a film. And that’s how Kaanchi started. There’s a political revolution happening in the youth. Candlelight marches, civil war… it’s all around us. Kaanchi is about the power of a rural girl. She’s the girl against evil, the hero.
Another pretty face you are introducing?
Mishti is photogenic and has a sweet voice and she can act as Kaanchi. There’s aggression in her. She perfects the rustic look. She can look innocent and talk intelligent. The paradox is interesting.
It came that you changed her name owing to your fascination with ‘M’?
Her name is Indrani Chakraborty. Mishti is her pet name. In fact, she herself said that since Indrani seems long, she’d prefer to be introduced as Mishti. If I were fixated, I’d have changed Katrina’s (Kaif) name to Matrina or Kareena’s (Kapoor) name to Mareena. They were all new when they did my films Yuvraaj and Yaadein respectively.
Four decades in filmmaking is quite a long period. How was your journey so far?
There’s hunger in me. We live in such a huge universe. There are billions of subjects and ideas. I’m a curious guy and see a story in everything. Stories keep me alive. Whether I succeed or fail depends on how I tell that story. Box-office failure is different from cinematic failure. I’ve never failed in the academics of filmmaking. Kisna and Yuvraaj didn’t work but they adhered to higher standards than some blockbusters.
Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala, Mahima Choudhary and now Mishti…All your heroines remained the high talking point?
I look for two things in a girl. She should be innocent and a seductress in equal measure. I call it ‘the innocence of the seductress’. Innocent itni ho ki usay main apni bahu bana loon our seductress aisi ho ki apni mashooqa bana loon. If these two qualities are not present, then she’s just a cabaret dancer or an item girl. Most heroines today are item girls. Innocence is lost. My heroines had both these qualities… from Tina Munim to Mahima Choudhary.
Is it difficult connecting with the new generation?
Cinema is a reflection of society. When I came in the ’70s, I was influenced by Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy. There was philosophy and poetry in their films. Then I was competing with the cinema led by Prakash Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan. I made Karz and stood out with the musical. Then came the generation of Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and Sooraj Barjatiya. They’d tell me that I was a textbook for them. That was a huge compliment. Anurag Kashyap symbolises the new generation. A generation, which thinks freely and speaks boldly. I love it. I’m envious because we couldn’t do all these things earlier. Earlier cinema had theatrical direction arid drawing room language. Karan’s films brought out bedroom language and now the new generation of directors has brought out the bathroom language. Every actor is on the pot. The bathroom is a reality. It’s the naked truth. Hamara generation was about lihaaz! I loved Udaan, Dev D and Gangs of Wasseypur. But I can’t make those films. I belong to a retro world. But I can weave the modern language in my storytelling. None of my heroines have abused but in Kaanchi, Mishti’s opening dialogue is bh”&°/.@#d.
In an age of realistic and parallel cinema, do you think the audience will accept your large than life movies?
All kind of movies have their audience and hence they do business. Every director has his own painting which people easily accept. Movies are like dream and stories told emotionally are liked by all.
Is the pressure immense for a hit?
I’d be lying if I say there isn’t. There’s a huge economic pressure. You can become a hero or a zero in one Friday. But I’m used to this pressure for the last 36 years now. I laugh it out. Life’s about taking risks. You’ve got to pick up the bat to score a century.
How do you keep yourself in sync with the times?
I have a huge passion for cinema. I opened a film school (Whistling Wood International). I’m interacting with young students all the time. I’m not a master. I’m a student of cinema. I learned from Queen, Chennai Express, Dhoom 3 and Udaan. All four films are my teachers.
Of the lot you have directed, which one is your favourite movie till date?
Karz and Taal have remained my favourites for keep. Both these movies are like musical journeys.
One movie you wish you had not made?
It has got Trimurti. Though the movie had excellent music, the story was not up to the mark.
If given a chance to act, which director would you choose to be directed by?
I think it is Tigmanshu Dhulia
Of all the actors you’ve worked with, who has remained close to you?
I’m the closest to Dilip Kumar. I’ve worked with him in three films (Vidhata, Saudagar and Karma). I learnt so much from him that it changed my personality, my views towards life and work. It’s unfortunate that I can’t talk to Dilip saab often because of his illness. Other than him, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff are two people I’m close to. We meet over drinks. Sometimes, I meet Salman (Khan) and Shah Rukh (Khan) too.
What role has your family played in your career?
A director’s life is fraught with risks. Success and failure are a constant. My wife (Rehana) and daughters (Meghna and Muskaan) are my biggest assets. My wife didn’t take my success seriously. So my failure didn’t affect her either. We believe in simple living. Rehana doesn’t think of collections and money. She’s popular amongst the industry and is loved by all. I’m lucky to have her. My elder daughter Meghna is a strong girl too. She was never interested in movies. She’s done her MBA. I’m proud of her.
Tell us something about Whistling Woods?
I invested whatever I earned into Whistling Woods. The idea behind the school was to make youngsters understand international sensibility in movie making and produce movie of international standard.