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Saturday, April 13, 2013

‘ ---और प्राण’ को मिला दादा साहेब फालके सम्‍मान


-अजय ब्रह्मात्मज
आखिरकार प्राण को दादा साहेब सम्‍मान मिला। सन् 2004 से हर साल फाल्‍के सम्‍मान की घोषणा के समय उनके नाम की चर्चा होती रही है, लेकिन साल-दर-साल दूसरे दिग्गज सम्मानित होते रहे। प्राण के समर्थक और प्रशंसक मायूस होते रहे। इस तरह दरकिनार किए जाने पर प्राण साहेब ने कभी नाखुशी जाहिर नहीं की, लेकिन पूरी फिल्म इंडस्ट्री महसूस करती रही कि उन्हें पुरस्कार मिलने में देर हो रही है। देर आयद, दुरूस्त आयद ...2013 में 94 की उम्र में उन्हें देश का फिल्म संबंधी सर्वोच्‍च सम्‍मान मिल ही गया। मनोज कुमार ने इसी बात की खुशी जाहिर की है कि उन्हें जीते-जी यह पुरस्कार मिला।
    उनके  करिअर पर सरसरी नजर डालें तो पंजाब और उत्तरप्रदेश के कुछ शहरों में पढ़ाई पूरी करने के बाद वे अविभाजित भारत के लाहौर शहर में स्टिल फोटोग्राफी में करिअर के लिए प्रयत्नशील थे। एटीट्यूड और स्टायल उनमें शुरू से था। लाहौर में राम लुभाया के पान की दुकान के सामने पान मुंह में डालने और चबाने के उनके अंदाज से वली मोहम्मद वली प्रभावित हुए। उन्हें उनमें अपना खलनायक दिख गया। उन्होनें ज्यादा बातचीत नहीं की। बसख्अपनी लिखी फिल्म पंजाबी फिल्म ‘यमला जट’ के लिए राजी कर लिया। प्राण साहेब ने फिर पलट कर नहीं देखा। तुरंत ही उन्हें पंचोली स्टूडियो की हिंदी फिल्म ‘चौधरी’ मिल गई। मंटो ने लाहौर के प्राण साहेब के बारे में लिखा है, ‘प्राण बहुत हैंडसम और पॉपुलर थे। अपने पहनावे और टांगे की वजह से शहर में जाने जाते थे।’ यही वजह रही होगी कि उन्हें तीसरी फिल्म ‘खानदान’ में नूरजहां के साथ नायक की भूमिका मिली। जब प्राण ने खुद ‘खानदान’ देखी तो उन्होंने स्वयं को ही रिजेक्ट कर दिया। उन्होंने महसूस किया कि हीरो की भूमिका में वे जंच नहीं रहे हैं। उन्होंने अपनी जीवनी और इंटरव्यू में हमेशा जिक्र किया कि उन्हें गीत गाने और हीरोइन के पीछे भागने में दिक्कत हुई थी। हीरो की एक्टिंग के लिए जरूरी ये दोनों बातें उन्हें खुद पर नहीं फबी।
    देश विभाजन के पहले प्राण लाहौर में 20 से अधिक फिल्म कर चुके थे। उनका करिअर अच्छा चल रहा था। शादी हो गई थी और बड़े बेटे अरविंद का जन्म हो चुका था। आजादी के एक साल पहले से माहौल बदतर हो रहा था। तबाही का अनुमान करते हुए उन्होंने अपनी पत्नी और बेटे को इंदौर भेज दिया था। पत्नी की जिद पर अपने बेटे के पहले जन्मदिन में शामिल होने के लिए प्राण 10 अगस्त 1947 को इंदौर पहुंचे और फिर कभी लाहौर नहीं लौट सके। रिश्तेदारों से कुछ उधार लेकर वे मुंबई आए। यहां आठ महीने की प्रतीक्षा के बाद सआदत हसन मंटो, श्याम और कुक्कू की सिफारिश से उन्हें बांबे टॉकीज की फिल्म मिली। पारिश्रमिक 500 रुपए तय हुआ। भारत में उनकी पहली फिल्म देवआनंद के साथ ‘जिद्दी’ थी। तब से दस साल पहले तक प्राण विभिन्न भूमिकाओं में फिल्मों में दिखते रहे।
    प्रसिद्ध निर्देशक सुधीर मिश्र के शब्दों में, ‘प्राण की अपनी अदायगी थी। वे अपनी भूमिकाओं में ऐसा आकर्षण पैदा करते थे कि खलनायक को भी दर्शक चाहने लगते थे। याद करें तो उन्होंने देव आनंद से लेकर अमिताभ बच्चन तक एक सफल पारी खेली। उनकी अदाकारी से फिल्म के हीरो का कद बढ़ जाता था।’ प्राण ने लगभग सभी नायकों के साथ खलनायक की भूमिका निभायी। दिलीप कुमार की फिल्म ‘राम और श्याम’ के गजेन्द्र को याद करें तो आज भी रोंगटे खड़े हो जाते हैं। हर फिल्म में खलनायकी का उनका एक नया रंग और मैनरिज्म रहता था। शब्दों को चबा कर बोलने से वे खतरनाक और दुष्ट लगते थे। लेकिन जब मनोज कुमार ने ‘उपकार’ में उन्हें मस्त मौला मलंग की भूमिका दी तो उन्होंने अपनी ही छवि बदल दी। पहली बार निर्माता-निर्देशकों को लगा कि वे सहयोगी और चरित्र भूमिकाएं भी निभा सकते हैं।
    निश्चित ही अमिताभ बच्चन की ‘जंजीर’ भी उनकी प्रमुख फिल्म है, लेकिन उसकी ज्यादा चर्चा अमिताभ बच्चन की लोकप्रियता की वजह से होती है। उन्होंने  शेर खान जैसे अनेक किरदार इसी खूबी से निभाए हैं। बहरहाल, अमिताभ बच्चन ने उन्हें याद करते हुए हाल ही में लिखा था कि ‘जंजीर’ के भारी मेकअप के बावजूद वे सेट पर सबसे पहले तैयार मिलते थे। यह अनुशासन ही उन्हें इस ऊंचाई तक ले आया।
    प्राण साहेब ने अपनी फिल्में देखरी बहुत पहले ही बंद कर दी थीं। केवल डबिंग के समय ही वे उसे हिस्सों में देखते थे। शुरू में प्रीमियर और ट्रायल में जाते थे तो अपना काम देख कर कोफ्त होती थी। दूसरे समय भी बर्बाद होता था,इसलिए फिल्में देखना ही बंद कर दिया। अब रिटायरमेंट के बाद इन दिनों टीवी पर अपनी फिल्में देखते हैं। एक बार अमिताभ बच्चन ने जिक्र किया था कि ‘जंजीर’ की रिलीज के 20 साल बाद उनका फोन आया था कि ‘मुझे आप का परफारमेंस पसंद आया।’ ‘अमिताभ बच्चन के शब्दों में प्राण ने हिंदी सिनेमा को अपनी कलाकारी से प्राण दिया।’
    खलनायक प्राण से एक बार आज के खलनायकों के बारे में पूछा गया था तो उनका जवाब था, ‘अभी के खलनायक लाउड हो गए हैं। वास्तव में खल भूमिकाएं निभाते समय चरित्र के स्वभाव में खल भाव आना चाहिए। लाउड होने या चिल्लाने की जरूरत नहीं है।’ उन्हें अपनी फिल्म ‘हलाकू’ सबसे अधिक पंसद है और लगभग 400 फिल्में कर चुके प्राण को परिचय में दादा की भूमिका मुश्किल और चैलेंजिंग लगी थी।’

Friday, April 12, 2013

फिल्‍म समीक्षा : कमांडो

Movie review: Commando-अजय ब्रह्मात्‍मज 
एक्शन फिल्म के तौर पर प्रचारित 'कमांडो' का एक्शन रोमांचित करता है। विद्युत जामवाल में बिजली की गति और चकमा है। एक्शन दृश्यों में उनकी स्फूर्ति देखते ही बनती है। एक्शन पसंद करने वाले दर्शकों को यह फिल्म अवश्य देखनी चाहिए।
भारतीय सेना के एक कमांडो के खो जाने से कहानी शुरू होती है। करणबीर डोगारा (विद्युत जामवाल) का हेलीकॉप्टर नियमित अभ्यास के दौरान क्रैश कर जाता है। करण को चीनी सेना के जवान गिरफ्तार कर लेते हैं। वे उसे जासूस समझते हैं। चीनी कैद में निश्चित मौत से बचकर करण भागता है और भारतीय सीमा में प्रवेश कर जाता है। वह पंजाब के एक गांव पहुंचता है। वहां उसकी भिडंत अनायास कुछ गुंडों से हो जाती है। वह एक लड़की को उनसे बचाता है। बाद में वह लड़की उसके पीछे पड़ जाती ह कि अब आगे भी बचाओ। इस कहानी के साथ हम देख चुके होते हैं कि इलाके का बदमाश एके-74 (जयदीप अहलावत) गांव की लड़की सिमरन (पूजा चोपड़ा) से शादी करना चाहता है। सिमरन उसके चंगुल से बचने के लिए भागी है।
इसके आगे की कहानी एके-74 और करण के संघर्ष की हो जाती है। करण किसी भी तरह सिमरन को एके-74 की गिरफ्त में नहीं आने देना चाहता। वे अपनी कमोडो ट्रेनिंग का भरपूर फायदा उठाता है और एके-74 के दांत खट्टे कर देता है। फिल्म में लंबे और रोमांचक चेज सीन हैं। पहाड़, नदी, नाले और जंगल में ऐसे दृश्यों के लिए जरूरी एक्शन हैं। करण की ताकत और स्फूर्ति से लग जाता है कि वह एके-74 पर भारी पड़ेगा।
कमांडो में विद्य़ुत जामवाल के साथ जयदीप अहलावत की तारीफ करनी होगी। दोनों के एक्शन और अदायगी पर ही पूरी फिल्म टिकी है। सिमरन फिल्म में एक्शन और चेज का कारण बनती है। इस भागदौड़ में ही सिमरन और करण का रोमांस भी हो जाता है। सिमरन की भूमिका में नयी होने के बावजूद पूजा चोपड़ा अच्छी लगती हैं। उनमें एक रवानी है।
यह फिल्म शुद्ध एक्शन फिल्म है। डिशुम,ढिशुम,ढिचक्यों। चूंकि हिंदी में रोमांस किए बगैर नायक हीरो नहीं बन सकता, इसलिए फिल्म में गैरजरूरी रोमांस भी है। अब रोमांस है तो रोमांटिक गीत अनिवार्य हो जाते हैं, लेकिन कमांडो को रोमांटिक गाने गाते देखना उचित नहीं लगता। फिल्म के क्लाइमेक्स में करण का भाषण भी जबरदस्ती जोड़ा हुआ लगता है। निर्भीक होने का करण का पाठ फिजूल है।
*** तीन स्टार

Thursday, April 11, 2013

पहली तिमाही और आईपीएल


-अजय ब्रह्मात्मज
    तीन साल पहले 2010 में भी पहली तिमाही में 41 फिल्में रिलीज हुई थीं। तब तीन महीनों का कुल बिजनेस 320 करोड़ था। इस साल फिर से 41 फिल्में रिलीज हुई हैं, लेकिन बिजनेस में स्पष्ट उछाल दिख रहा है। इस साल पहली तिमाही का कलेक्शन 481 करोड़ है। प्रति फिल्म कलेक्शन पर भी नजर डालें तो लगभग डेढ़ गुने का उछाल दिखता है। 2010 में प्रति फिल्म कलेक्शन 7 ़ 8 करोड़ रहा, जबकि 2013 में प्रति फिल्म कलेक्शन 11 ़ 73 करोड़ है। स्पष्ट है कि हिंदी फिल्मों के दर्शक बढ़े हैं। हालांकि साजिद खान की ‘हिम्मतवाला’ अपेक्षा के मुताबिक नहीं चल सकी। फिर भी पहले वीकएंड के लगभग 30 करोड़ के कलेक्शन से उसने पहली तिमाही का कुल कलेक्शन 500 करोड़ से अधिक कर दिया। यह कोई संकेत नहीं है। अगले 9 महीनों में फिल्मों का बिजनेस कितना चढ़ेगा या उतरेगा ? अभी अनुमान नहीं लगाया जा सकता।
    पिछले कुछ सालों से दूसरी तिमाही में फिल्मों की रिलीज कम हो जाती है। इससे कुल कलेक्शन भी प्रभावित होता है। इसका एक बड़ा कारण आईपीएल क्रिकेट है और दूसरा गर्मी की छुट्टियां ़ ़ ़ गर्मी की छुट्टियों में दर्शकों का बड़ी संख्या में आवागमन होता है। मझोले शहरों के युवा दर्शक (छात्र) छुट्टियों के लिए अपने घरों को लौट जाते हैं। बड़े शहरों से भी परिवार जत्थों में छुट्टियों के लिए अपने गृहप्रदेश लौट जाते हैं। फिल्मों के ट्रेड पंडितों ने दर्शकों के इस आवागमन पर कभी ध्यान नहीं दिया। हिंदी फिल्मों के व्यवसाय में साल का उत्तराद्र्ध बिजनेस के हिसाब से माकूल होता है। ज्यादातर बड़ी फिल्में दूसरी छमाही में ही रिलीज होती है। तीनों खानों के साथ अजय देवगन, रितिक रोशन, अक्षय कुमार की फिल्में भी ईद से क्रिसमस तक विभिन्न त्योहारों के समय रिलीज होती हैं।
    इस साल भी यही ट्रेंड है। दूसरी तिमाही थोड़ी हल्की रहेगी। 3 अप्रैल से 26 मई तक जारी आईपीएल के 7 हफ्तों के दौरान बमुश्किल 8 फिल्में रिलीज हो रही हैं। पिछले दो सालों में आईपीएल का आतंक कम हुआ है। उसके पहले तो इतनी बुरी हालत थी कि सारे निर्माता आईपीएल के समय फिल्में रिलीज करने के नाम पर बगलें झांकने लगते थे। आनंद राय की ‘तनु वेड््स मनु’ ने जोरदार तरीके से आईपीएल का आतंक तोड़ा था। 2011 और 2012 में अनेक निर्माताओं ने आईपीएल के दौरान ही फिल्में रिलीज कीं। इस साल भी कुछ निर्माता साहस दिखा रहे हैं। ट्रेड पंडितों के मुताबिक छोटे और मझोले निर्माता बड़ी फिल्मों से टकराने के बजाए आईपीएल की मार बर्दाश्त कर लेते हैं। आईपीएल आरंभ हुआ था तो सिनेमाघरों में दर्शक अचानक कम हो गए थे। पहले साल तो थिएटरों में दर्शकों की तादाद केवल 20 प्रतिशत रह गई थी। धीरे-धीरे आईपीएल का जादू छंटा और निर्माताओं ने भी हिम्मत दिखाई। अब स्थिति सामान्य हो रही है।
    इस साल सबसे पहले ‘चश्मे बद्दूर’ रिलीज हुई। डेविड धवन की इस फिल्म से अधिक उम्मीद नहीं थी। आने वाले हफ्तों में रोहन सिप्पी की ‘नौटंकी साला’, ‘कमांडो’, विशाल भारद्वाज की ‘एक थी डायन’, संजय गुप्ता की ‘शूटआउट एट वडाला’, करण जौहर की ‘गिप्पी’, सनी देओल की ‘आई लव न्यू ईयर’ और यशराज फिल्म्स की ‘औरंगजेब’ रिलीज होगी। इनमें से केवल ‘शूटआउट एट वडाला’ कथित रूप से बड़ी फिल्म है। बाकी फिल्मों में टॉप रैंकिंग स्टार नहीं है। सभी मध्यम बजट की फिल्में हैं। यशराज फिल्म्स की ‘औरंगजेब’ दूसरी बड़ी फिल्म मानी जा सकती है। इसमें अर्जुन कपूर हैं। कहा जा रहा है कि इन फिल्मों के निर्माताओं में से कुछ ने मजबूरी में तो कुछ ने रणनीति के तहत ही आईपीएल का समय चुना है। बालाजी फिल्म्स की बात करें तो उनकी दो फिल्में ‘एक थी डायन’ और ‘शूटआउट एट वडाला’ इसी दौरान रिलीज होंगी। उनके प्रवक्ता के मुताबिक अभी आईपीएल से घबराने की जरूरत नहीं है। आईपीएल के प्रति दर्शकों की रुचि पहले से कम हो गई है।
    सच कहें तो फिल्म अच्छी होने पर हर हाल में चलती है। वर्ल्‍ड कप या आईपीएल से दर्शकों को फर्क नहीं पड़ता। मैच के एक या दो दिन छोडक़र बाकी दिन वे फिल्में देख सकते हैं। ऐसा संयोग रहा है कि आईपीएल के दौरान कोई बड़ी फिल्म रिलीज नहीं होती हंै। अगर कभी ऐसा हो तो सही पता चले कि क्या आईपीएल से सचमुच फिल्मों के कलेक्शन पर असर होता है? अभी तक सिर्फ यह माना जा रहा था कि आईपीएल के दौरान दर्शक फिल्मों के बजाए क्रिकेट देखना चाहते हैं। पिछले सालों में इस मान्यता को फुस्स होते देखा गया है। इस साल भी ऐसा ही होगा।

Monday, April 8, 2013

‘‘I proved to the country that Shakespeare can be masala…’’ -vishal bhardwaj

चवन्‍नी के पाठकों के लिए विशाल भारद्वाज का इंटरव्यू बॉक्‍स ऑफिस इंडिया से....

Vishal Bhardwaj in a no-holds-barred interview to the Box Office India team
BOI: Let’s start with Ek Thi Daayan. How did it happen?
Vishal Bhardwaj (VB): The director Kannan (Iyer) has been a friend for a very long time. Actually, he was supposed to make a film for Ram Gopal Varma, even before Satya. Ramu introduced us. So we became friends. Even though that film got shelved, we remained friends.After that, I made seven to eight films but Kannan didn’t make a single one. That’s because he was looking for the perfect script, which didn’t exist. So I proposed that we make a film together. I had read this short story written by Mukul Sharma, who is Konkona’s (Sen Sharma) father, a great writer. I loved that short story. I gave it to Kannan and he developed it. That’s how it all started.
BOI: The film has a very interesting cast. What went into the casting?
VB: Emraan (Hashmi) was our first choice. We narrated it to him first since he suited the role, commercially and in terms of the craft too. But we struggled for the female cast. There were differences between Ekta (Kapoor) and me about casting Konkona (Sen Sharma). Kalki (Koechin) was quite easy to cast. As for Huma (Qureshi)… we had heard her name after Gangs Of Wasseypur. We called her for an audition and we saw that she was extraordinarily talented and we cast her.
BOI: What differences did you and Ekta have over Konkona Sen Sharma?
VB: Ekta didn’t want her.
BOI: Why?
VB: She and I saw the script in different ways. Finally, she had to give in.
BOI: Since this is a co-production with Balaji, what was it like working with them?
VB: (Laughs) I think the real experience will be gauged only once the film releases. Otherwise, almost all corporates are the same. Ekta is a little different because she remains involved.
BOI: There’s a fine line between involvement and interference. Was there any interference in this film?
VB: Yes, there is a very thin line between the two, a very, very thin line between suggestion and interference. So far, it has been suggestions.

BOI: Most of your films are serious, dark films. Why the attraction to this genre?
VB: Maybe there’s a darkness within me that comes out every now and then. I don’t go there deliberately but it keeps coming out on its own. Other than that, I don’t know why I can’t make films like Golmaal.
BOI: Do you watch commercial, masala films like Golmaal?
VB: I stopped watching films like that a long time ago. I met Mani Ratnam seven to eight years ago and he gave me a bit of advice. He said, ‘One, don’t watch other people’s films in the cinema and, two, don’t watch your own films either!’
People might react differently to your film in the cinemas and that might upset you. Earlier, I used to watch every film, first day, first show. He said he used to do the same thing but he stopped. I found that to be an excellent advice. When you watch a film, you form an opinion about it. The film either works or doesn’t, and, usually, films I didn’t like and thought wouldn’t work, turned out to be blockbusters! Thus, you lose your confidence and feel that you cannot gauge the audience’s likes and dislikes.
Sometimes, a certain negativity creeps in within you since the prediction becomes your wish. But, regardless of how fair you want to be, sometimes you end up wishing a film doesn’t work. It’s human nature. Sometimes, you don’t like the film or you don’t like someone, so you wish the film doesn’t work. I wanted to do away with that negativity and didn’t want to feel negative towards anyone. So I thought it better to stay away from all this. If someone insists that I watch a certain film, I watch it.
BOI: But doesn’t it stop you from growing as a technician or a filmmaker?
VB: I hardly think that the kind of films that work can teach me something about filmmaking! They can teach me how to be less intelligent, which I don’t want!
BOI: Sometimes, you have to watch bad movies to know what not to make.
VB: No, but then I will never be able to make my kind of films! Because it will keep teaching me, again and again, not to make my kind of films! (Laughs)
BOI: Back to Ek Thi Daayan… This is a film you have produced. What is the difference between the films you direct and the ones you only produce?
VB: To be honest, I have started getting very irritated. At times, I give so much to these films as a producer that I feel it’s better to direct them myself. With first-time directors, you are always protecting them from the money men and different kinds of pressures. He always needs your support. You are always wondering if he’s doing the right thing.
This experience actually came from No Smoking, which I produced. I produced the film because Anurag (Kashyap) was very low at that time in his life. He came to me on the sets of Omkara. He was very emotional and upset that he had got John Abraham’s dates but no one was giving him money to make that film. I told him either he was lying or something was very wrong. So he made me speak with John. Kumar-ji (Mangat) was on the sets, so I introduced them. Kumarji listened to the subject, and he agreed. I said I didn’t want to have anything to do with the film and said they could go ahead.
Two months later, Anurag told me if I wasn’t involved, he wouldn’t direct the film and Kumarji said if I was not involved, he wouldn’t produce the film because they both had extremely different perspectives. That’s how I came into the picture. But I was at the receiving end of all the flak. After the film’s release, everyone questioned my involvement in the film. People even said, ‘Was he asleep when the film was being made?’ At the time, Anurag didn’t have the reputation he has now, so I was at the receiving end. That’s when I decided that I would only produce films that I write myself. If they don’t work, I will still own them. That’s why I worte Ishqiya, then Dedh Ishqiya and then Ek Thi Daayan. So, from now on, I don’t want to produce films for anyone other than myself. But it really pains me since I have to invest more energy than required.
BOI: What do you plan to work on next?
VB: I am very confused. I have five to six subjects but I don’t have the time. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola released on January 11. Then I jumped into Dedh Ishqiya, and then immediately Daayan promotion started and the post-production and everything kept me busy. I cannot find the space to think. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; I need to choose which one to make into a film. I think I will decide in a month.
BOI: Is Shakespeare also on the radar?
VB: Yes, many Shakespeares!
BOI: How important is it to have a star on board for any film?
VB: It’s the most essential thing. You can’t live without stars. You need money to make your films, and if you don’t have a star, you will not get the money you need and then you will have to compromise your vision. It’s a very important decision for a director to make. Does he want to compromise his vision and make films with a non-star or to broaden his vision and make films with stars, to get more funding for his film? Stars are only needed so that you can raise more money.
BOI: Every film has its own brand. Sometimes, even a director can be the star. So if you are a brand, why can’t you get…
VB: (Cuts in) We are always told this after the film is released. When we try to raise money, they always need a star. At that moment, we are not stars. Post release, they tell me, people watched a film because of me; I didn’t need a star. But when I ask the same people for money, they tell me they need a star.
BOI: Are these double standards?
VB: No, not double standards. When you invest money, you are insecure. If you’re not investing, you can say anything. You have nothing at stake and you can afford to be philosophical, intellectual, large-hearted.
BOI: Can you tell us about your long association with Gulzar?
VB: I feel proud when I say that I am the only composer who has worked most with Gulzar saab and have the greatest number of songs with him. Not even Pancham da, although I think Pancham da was greater and a better composer than I am. Of my 30 films, 26 were with Gulzar saab, plus non-films and TV series. We have made more than 200 songs together.
BOI: Do you believe his writing evolved with the changing times?
VB: For a few years after the release of Maachis, people started saying that if filmmakers wanted me in a film, they would have to take Gulzar saab too. And at the time, people were very wary of him. They didn’t want to take him. But once he wrote the songs of Dil Se, especially Chaiyyan chaiyyan… After that song, look how well the man is doing. All his songs, from Kajraare, to Beedi, to Saathiya… he has a different stroke in every film. And now Yaaram or Dhan te nan… He is a living legend.
BOI: What goes into the making of these songs? Do the lyrics come first or the music?
VB: Earlier, it was very clear but now it’s not because we work in tandem. Even when we are travelling, I suggest a tune, he suggests some words for it; he gives me some words again and I change the tune… and we keep going back and forth. So at the end of the song, it’s hard to tell who started the process.
BOI: How do you balance that?
VB: I think every director has his own way. Some directors work better when they are in that aura. I see them as characters, not as stars. Everything else is manageable. They might ask many questions but it is up to you to convince them or get convinced.
BOI: Earlier, we had either art cinema or commercial cinema. Now we have so many different kinds of cinema. We have a Vishal Bhardwaj type of cinema, Anurag Kashyap type of cinema… Everyone has their own style. Can you comment on that?
VB: I think we are in the best of times. The divide of that art-house cinema has diminished. Otherwise, where would you see films like Vicky Donor doing well and winning so many awards, and Rowdy Rathore doing well at the same time?
We are in the best of times. No one can complain. You can raise money for any kind of film. With actors like Irrfan, Tabu, Naseer saab, I was still unable to raise any money at the time. IDBI rejected my loan application for Rs 1.5 crore. My friend Manmohan Shettyji told me, like a well-wisher, that he had saved me by not clearing my loan. He asked me how would I raise Rs 1.5 crore for a film with Tabu, Irrfan and all. ‘I did this for your own good. I thought I was doing you a favour by not passing your loan. I didn’t want you to lose your house. So I cancelled your loan.’
But look how things have changed in eight to nine years! Now if I have Irrfan or Tabu, I can easily raise up to Rs 15 crore. And why me? Nowadays, even a newcomer can raise that much money for his film. Times have changed because people have started coming to theatres. Multiplexes have brought people out of their homes to cinemas. Today, we have audiences for any kind of cinema.
BOI: Another thing that has changed drastically in the last few years is the role of marketing and promotion. What’s your take on that? Is it a good thing?
VB: I think it’s a good thing. But every good thing has a bad side to it. Sometimes, they go overboard. So if the budget of a film is Rs 7 crore, they spend so much extra on it that it becomes Rs 14 crore and they weep later. So there needs to be more innovative marketing. It’s not like kisi newspaper ka front page le liya. Ek toh it’s a shame that news is being sold these days. Sharm aani chahiye.
BOI: Jo bech rahe hain unko ki jo khareed rahe hain unko?
VB: Nahi jo bech rahe hain unko! Khareedne wala has no option but to buy. A filmmaker will look for ways to promote his film and this is just another option for him. Who knows that it’s Medianet? Only the people from the industry. Outsiders don’t know what Medianet is.
BOI: Apart from filmmaking and promotion, are you clued in to trade-related news and collections?
VB: Sometimes, I get messages. Otherwise, I have stopped reading trade magazines, because although I want to live in this industry, I don’t want to be of this industry. So many things change within you and you can’t think out of the box. You don’t realise when exactly you got caught up in the rat race. That’s why I stopped watching TV and films and reading magazines. It’s better to remain in your own world.
BOI: As a producer, do you keep budgets in mind?
VB: Yes, and now I am realising this more and more. My kind of films should be made on a 30-per cent smaller budget. Only then will they become commercial. I am going to implement it too.
BOI: When you approach stars, do they reduce their price for you?
VB: It depends. If you are really desperate to make the film and someone has just walked out of it, you don’t have the power to negotiate. The worst is if you go to them with one of those corporate guys. They see them and say, ‘This actor had charged so much from my last film.’
BOI: Most of your films are based on books. Any reason?
VB: The most intelligent person is a fool who knows he is a fool. And he’s a fool if he believes he isn’t, when he is. So if I see material that I think is better than my work, I take it. It’s simply a craving to do good work. So if Shakespeare has been worshipped for 400 years and I can’t write like him, I adapt his work.
BOI: Earlier, the audience was not ready to watch films adapted from books.
VB: (Cuts in) Manmohan Shettyji ne ek aur salah di thi mujhe uss din. He said, ‘If you get to make Maqbool, don’t write  that it is based on William Shakespeare’s work.’
Yes, anything literary was considered boring, uninteresting and non-commercial. But I proved that wrong. I proved to the country that Shakespeare can be masala, and heroes in Shakespeares’s work can abuse openly.
BOI: Why doesn’t Dedh Ishqiya feature Vidya Balan?
VB: The baggage of Vidya would have made sure that these two characters wouldn’t have flirted with anyone else. The other characters would have had to be cautious of Vidya. It was like the adventures of Babban and Khalu. Vidya has done such a great job.
BOI: Will we see more in the Ishqiya franchise?
VB: That depends on Abhishek (Chaubey), since it’s his baby. He tried to do many things in between but nothing materialised. So we did Dedh Ishqiya.
BOI: When you look back, what do you think of your journey so far?
VB: Now I get more love from the industry and I think I have become a branch of this tree. Earlier, I used to feel like I was tied to a branch, but now I have become the branch. I am really fortunate that I am a filmmaker and part of this industry.
BOI: Do they love you now that you have become successful?
VB: (Laughs) No, they love me despite the fact that I have never had a big commercial success. But still I am sitting in your office here and giving this interview

Sunday, April 7, 2013

पड़ोसी देश का परिचित अभिनेता अली जफर


-अजय ब्रह्मात्मज
    अभिषेक शर्मा की ‘तेरे बिन लादेन’ के पहले ही अली जफर को भारतीय दर्शकों ने पहचानना शुरू कर दिया था। उनके गाए गाने पाकिस्तान में धूम मचाने के बाद सरहद पार कर भारत पहुंचे। सोशल मीडिया से सिमटती दुनिया में अली जफर के लिए भारतीय श्रोताओं और फिर दर्शकों के बीच आना मुश्किल काम न रहा। हालांकि उन्होंने गायकी से शुरुआत की, लेकिन अब अभिनय पर ध्यान दे रहे हैं। थोड़ा पीछे चलें तो उन्होंने पाकिस्तान की फिल्म ‘शरारत’ में ‘जुगनुओं से भर ले आंचल’ गीत गाया था। एक-दो टीवी सीरिज में भी काम किया। उन्हें बड़ा मौका ‘तेरे बिन लादेन’  के रूप में मिला। अभिषेक शर्मा की इस फिल्म के चुटीले दृश्यों और उनमें अली जफर की बेचैन मासूमियत ने दर्शकों को मुग्ध किया। अली जफर चुपके से भारतीय दर्शकों के भी चहेते बन गए।
    शांत, मृदुभाषी और कोमल व्यक्तित्व के अली जफर सचमुच पड़ोसी लडक़े (नेक्स्ट डोरब्वॉय ) का एहसास देते हैं। तीन फिल्मों के बाद भी उनमें हिंदी फिल्मों के युवा स्टारों जैसे नखरे नहीं हैं। पाकिस्तान-भारत के बीच चौकड़ी भरते हुए अली जफर फिल्में कर रहे हैं। गौर करें तो आजादी के बाद से अनेक पाकिस्तानी कलाकारों ने हिंदी फिल्मों में जोर आजमाईश की। उनमें से कुछ ही सफल रहे। ऐसे सफल नामों में सबसे नए और अपेक्षाकृत अधिक लोकप्रिय अली जफर हैं। हिंदी फिल्मों के इतिहास के जानकारों को मालूम है कि लाहौर हिंदी फिल्मों के निर्माण के आरंभिक त्रिभुज का मुख्य कोण रहा है। दुर्भाग्य से बंटवारे के बाद लाहौर की गरिमा खत्म हुई। बंटवारे के समय ही अनेक प्रतिभाएं भारत आई थीं। कुछ प्रतिभाएं मुंबई से भी लाहौर गईं, लेकिन हम सभी जानते हैं कि पाकिस्तानी फिल्म इंडस्ट्री कभी रोशनदार नहीं हो सकी। कुछ स्टार थे, लेकिन समय के साथ उनकी रौनक भी खत्म हो गई। बहरहाल, उसी लाहौर से अली जफर आते हैं। उम्मीद की जा सकती है कि हिंदी फिल्म इंडस्ट्री के मिसिंग लिंक लाहौर को वे जोड़ेंगे।
    यूनिवर्सिटी प्रोफेसर मुहम्मद जफरूल्लाह और कंवल हसीन के बड़े बेटे अली जफर का ध्यान शुरू में पेंटिंग की तरफ था। उन्होंने लाहौर के नेशनल आर्ट कॉलेज से पढ़ाई पूरी करने के बाद उमर बट, साद कुरैशी, सोहेल जावेद और सुमराया खान आदि की संगत में चित्रकारी की। फिर म्यूजिक और गायकी में रुझान हुआ तो मौशिकी की ओर मुड़ गए। गायक और संगीतकार के तौर पर पहचान बनने के साथ उनका भारत आना-जाना आरंभ हुआ। इसी दरम्यान उन्होंने भारतीय फिल्मकारों से मेल-जोल बढ़ाया। वे कहते हैं, ‘पाकिस्तान के आर्टिस्ट मुझ से पूछते हैं कि भारत में कैसे काम मिल सकता है? मेरा छोटा सा जवाब होता है - धैर्य और कोशिश। आप लोगों से लगातार मिलते रहें और अपने इरादे ठोस रखें। मेरे कई पाकिस्तानी परिचित चाहते हैं कि बगैर मुंबई या भारत आाए ही उनके पास ऑफर आ जाएं। ऐसा होता है क्या? ऐसा नहीं हो सकता।’
    अली जफर की ‘तेरे बिन लादेन’, ‘मेरे ब्रदर की दुल्हन’ और ‘लंदन पेरिस न्यूयार्क’ फिल्में आ चुकी हैं। तीनों फिल्मों में अली जफर के अभिनय की प्रशंसा हुई है। अली जफर सीधे-सादे और नेक मिजाज किरदारों में अच्छे लगते हैं। नौवें दशक के फारुख शेख और अमोल पालेकर की परंपरा में उन्हें देखा जा रहा है। अपनी इस छवि के बारे में अली जफर कहते हैं, ‘दोनों ही जबरदस्त अभिनेता हैं। उनसे सीखा जा सकता है। मैं अपने किरदारों में नैचुरल रहने की कोशिश करता हूं। मेलोड्रामा और नाटकीयता मुझे अपनी जिंदगी में भी पसंद नहीं है। मैं पर्दे पर ऐसा किरदार निभाते या अभिनय करते हुए सहज नहीं लगूंगा। वास्तव में मेरा वैसा स्वभाव नहीं है।’
    डेविड धवन की फिल्म ‘चश्मेबद्दूर ’ में फारुख शेख के निभाए किरदार सिद्धार्थ पाराशर को अली जफर ने आधुनिक रंगत दी है। वे कहते हैं, ‘मैंने अपने किरदार को पिछली फिल्म की तरह सरल ही रखा है। बस, उसे थोड़ा शरारती रंग दिया है। डेविड धवन ने हमें अच्छी तरह समझा दिया था कि उन्हें क्या चाहिए? मैं निर्देशक के सुझावों पर बहुत ज्यादा गौर करता हूं। किसी भी किरदार को अच्छी तरह समझने के लिए जरूरी है कि उसे अन्य किरदारों के साथ देखा जाए। वह उनके साथ कैसे रिएक्ट करता है?’ अली जफर मानते हैं कि उनकी सॉफ्ट रोमांटिक छवि बन गई है। वे चलते-चलते बताते हैं कि शाद अली की अगली फिल्म ‘किल दिल’ में आप मुझे एक्शन करते देखेंगे। इस फिल्म में मैं रणबीर कपूर और परिणीति चोपड़ा के साथ दिखूंगा। शाद अली की फिल्म के लिए मैं बहुत उत्साहित हूं। उनकी ‘साथिया’ और ‘बंटी और बबली’ बहुत अच्छी लगी थी।’ इन दिनों वे लंदन में नीरज पांडे के निर्माण और ई निवास के निर्देशन में बन रही ‘अमन की आशा’ की शुटिंग कर रहे हैं। इसमें उनके साथ यामी गौतम,अनुपम खेर और किरण खेर हैं।

Saturday, April 6, 2013

हिंदी फिल्मों का फैलता विदेशी बाजार


-अजय ब्रह्मात्मज
    अप्रैल से सितंबर के बीच जापान में छह हिंदी फिल्में रेगुलर सिनेमाघरों में रिलीज होंगी। अभी टोक्यो में हिंदी फिल्मों के प्रीमियर का सिलसिला चल रहा है। कबीर खान निर्देशित सलमान खान की ‘एक था टाइगर’ के बाद फराह खान निर्देशित शाहरुख खान की ‘ओम शांति ओम’ का प्रीमियर हुआ। जल्दी ही ‘3 इडियट’ और ‘स्टेनली का डब्बा’ के भी प्रीमियर होंगे। टोक्यो के प्रीमियर में कोई भी स्टार नहीं गया। दोनों ही फिल्मों के निर्देशक मौजूद रहे। ‘एक था टाइगर’ के प्रीमियर के समय कबीर खान ने स्वीकार किया था कि अभी सलमान खान को टोक्यो बुलाना बेमानी होता। कुछ फिल्में चलेंगी और उनका क्रेज बनेगा तो जाकर उनकी भागीदारी बड़ी खबर बनेगी। अभी तो जरूरत है कि हिंदी फिल्मों का बाजार बनाया जाए।
    हिंदी फिल्मों के विदेशी बाजारों का उल्लेख करते समय हम मुख्य रूप से अमेरिका, इंग्लैंड और मध्य पूर्व के देशों की बातें करते हैं। इधर जर्मनी और फ्रांस का भी जिक्र होने लगा है। पूर्व एशिया और दक्षिण पूर्व एशिया के बाजार पर हमारी नजर ही नहीं थी। याद करें तो फिल्म फिल्म समारोहों के बाहर के दर्शकों के बीच सबसे पहले ‘आवारा’ ने चीन और सोवियत संघ में जगह बनाई थी। खास ऐतिहासिक परिस्थिति में दोनों कम्युनिस्ट देशों में रिलीज होने के बाद ‘आवारा’ सराही गई थी। अपने चीन प्रवास के दौरान मैंने चीन के टीवी से प्रसारित ‘आवारा’ और अन्य हिंदी फिल्में देखी थीं। ‘आवारा’ की बात करें तो फिल्म में इस पर जोर दिया गया था कि कोई भी व्यक्ति जन्मजात कुछ भी नहीं होता। उसकी परिस्थितियां ही उसको व्यक्तित्व का निर्माण करती हैं। फिल्म का यह दर्शन कम्युनिज्म के मूल सिद्धांतों के मेल में था। दूसरे तब के सोवियत संघ और चीन में साम्राज्यवादी देश अमेरिका की पूंजीवादी सोच की हालीवुड की फिल्मों का प्रवेश निषेध था। चीन में ‘आवारा’ और ‘दो बीघा जमीन’ जैसी फिल्मों को कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी की सरकार का समर्थन हासिल था। बाद में आर्थिक उदारीकरण और सुधार की नीति अपनाने पर धीरे-धीरे हालीवुड की फिल्मों का प्रवेश हुआ। अब हालीवुड की फिल्में चीन में काफी पापुलर हैं। अपनी भाषा की फिल्मों के संरक्षण और विकास के मद्देनजर चीन ने फिल्मों के आयात की संख्या तय कर दी है। उससे ज्यादा विदेशी फिल्में आयात नहीं की जा सकतीं। दो साल पहले चीन में  बमुश्किल ‘3 इडियट’ रिलीज हो पाई थी।
    भारतीय निर्माता-निर्देशकों ने दक्षिण पूर्व और पूर्व एशिया के देशों में भारतीय और खास कर हिंदी फिल्मों के निर्यात और बाजार पर ध्यान देना शुरू किया है। मलेशिया, हांगकांग, सिंगापुर, थाइलैंड, इंडोनेशिया, चीन और जापान जैसे देशों में पिछले कुछ सालों में भारतवंशियों की संख्या बढ़ी है। भारतवंशी अपनी भाषा में फिल्म मनोरंजन चाहते हैं। इसके अलावा फिल्म समारोहों और इंटरनेशनल पुरस्कारों में भारतीय प्रतिभाओं की गूंज से भी इन देशों में भारतीय फिल्मों के प्रति जिज्ञासा बढ़ी है। ग्लोबल दौर में भारतीय फिल्मों ने अपारंपरिक बाजारों में भी घुसने की राह खोज ली है। इधर देखने में आ रहा है कि इन देशों के पर्यटन विभाग भारतीय फिल्मों की शूटिंग के लिए सहूलियतें प्रदान कर रहे हैं। लक्ष्य है कि ‘डॉन’ की शूटिंग के बाद मलेशिया जाने वाले भारतीयों की संख्या में इजाफा हुआ है। मलेशिया की तरह ही जापान भी चाहता है कि वहां किसी भारतीय फिल्म की शूटिंग हो ताकि भारतीय पर्यटक जापान का रुख करें।
    भारत सरकार ने कभी भारतीय फिल्मों को अधिक तरजीह नहीं दी। भारतीय फिल्मों की व्यापक लोकप्रियता के राजनयिक उपयोग पर विचार ही नहीं किया गया। निर्माता-निर्देशक स्वयं के लाभ के लिए सक्रिय रहे। आज भी भारतीय फिल्मों के निर्यात, प्रचार और प्रसार को लेकर भारत सरकार की कोई नीति नहीं है। अगर सरकारी संस्थाएं और फिल्म इंडस्ट्री की प्रतिभाएं मिल कर अभियान चलाएं तो भारतीय फिल्मों का विदेशी बाजार तेजी से विकसित हो सकता है। संभावनाएं हैं। जरूरत है उन संभावनाओं को आंकने और उन पर अमल करने की।

Friday, April 5, 2013

फिल्म समीक्षा : चश्मे बद्दूर

Movie review chashme buddoor-अजय ब्रह्मात्मज
'हिम्मतवाला' के रीमेक की साजिद खान की लस्त-पस्त कोशिश के बाद डेविड धवन की रीमेक 'चश्मेबद्दूर' से अधिक उम्मीद नहीं थी। डेविड धवन की शैली और सिनेमा से हम परिचित हैं। उनकी हंसी की धार सूख और मुरझा चुकी है। पिछली फिल्मों में वे पहले जैसी चमक भी नहीं दिखा सके। गोविंदा का करियरग्राफ गिरने के साथ डेविड धवन का जादू बिखर गया। 'चश्मे बद्दूर' के शो में घुसने के समय तक आशंका बरकरार रही, लेकिन यह स्वीकार करने में कोई हिचक नहीं है कि डेविड धवन की 'चश्मेबद्दूर' एक अलग धरातल पर चलती है और हंसाती है।
पुरानी फिल्म के प्रति नॉस्टेलजिक होना ठीक है। सई परांजपे की 'चश्मे बद्दूर' अच्छी और मनोरंजक फिल्म थी। रीमेक में मूल के भाव और अभिनय की परछाइयों को खोजना भूल होगी। यह मूल से बिल्कुल अलग फिल्म है। डेविड धवन ने मूल फिल्म से तीन दोस्त और एक लड़की का सूत्र लिया है और उसे नए ढंग से अलहदा परिवेश में चित्रित कर दिया है। 'चश्मे बद्दूर' की अविराम हंसी के लिए सबसे पहले साजिद-फरहाद को बधाई देनी होगी। उनकी पंक्तियां कमाल करती हैं। उन पंक्तियों को अली जफर, सिद्धार्थ और दिव्येन्दु शर्मा ने सही टाइमिंग के साथ बोल कर ज्यादा हास्यप्रद बना दिया है।
अली जफर, सिद्धार्थ और दिव्येन्दु शर्मा की तिगड़ी फिल्म को बगैर ब्रेक के इंटरवल तक ले जाती है। फिल्म इतनी तेजी के साथ आगे बढ़ती है कि कुछ सोचने-समझने की फुर्सत नहीं मिलती है। इस फिल्म की कहानी मूल फिल्म के केंद्रीय भाव पर ही आधारित है। चरित्र और परिवेश बदल गए हैं। कुछ किरदारों को बिल्कुल नए रंग-ढंग में पेश किया गया है। ऋषि कपूर और लिलेट दूबे का रोमांटिक ट्रैक सुंदर बन पड़ा है। अनुपम खेर अपने डबल रोल में जमते हैं। अनुपम खेर के एक्सप्रेशन और बॉडी लैंग्वेज के ठहराव, विराम और अंतर का अध्ययन किया जा सकता है। इस शैली और कोटि का दूसरा अभिनेता हिंदी फिल्मों को नहीं मिला है। दरअसल,अनुपम खेर ने इतनी ज्यादा और साधारण फिल्में की हैं कि हम उनकी विशेषताओं को तूल नहीं दे सके। ऋषि कपूर के बोले अंकों से संबंधित मुहावरों के अंक कम-ज्यादा कर लेखक ने उन्हें नया आयाम और हास्यपूर्ण अर्थ दे दिया है।
'चश्मे बद्दूर' आज की फिल्म है। आज के युवा दर्शकों को यह फिल्म पसंद आएगी। इंटरवल तक बेरोकटोक आगे बढ़ रही फिल्म द्वंद्व जाहिर होने के बाद थोड़ी धीमी हो जाती है। कभी-कभी ठहर भी जाती है। लेखक-निर्देशक उसे खींच-खींच कर आगे बढ़ाते हैं। नायक की दशा से पिघलकर मदद के लिए दोनों दोस्तों के तैयार होने का प्रसंग कमजोर और जल्दबाजी में है। और अच्छी बात यही है कि डेविड धवन की 'चश्मे बद्दूर' मूल से अलग होने के बावजूद निराश नहीं करती। एक नई मनोरंजक फिल्म का एहसास देती है।
अवधि - 132 मिनट
*** तीन स्टार

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Life of Irrfan

Cover story: Life of Irrfan
Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Photographs by Natasha Hemrajani, Hindustan Times

He is Hindi cinema’s best known name in Hollywood. And with the National Award for Paan Singh Tomar under his belt, Irrfan is pushing new boundaries. Here is Brunch's exclusive shoot at Irrfan's own residence. (Photo Credit: Natasha Hemrajani)
There was something about kite flying that always fascinated actor Irrfan. He was struck by the dizzy heights a free-flowing kite would reach in the vast open sky. The way a mere piece of paper could trace its way in uncharted territory would keep him spellbound. “I loved the sense of freedom that the kite experienced. Inherently, I was dying to experience the same, in every sense of the word,” says Irrfan, as he sits down on the comfortable lounger at his Mediterranean-style Madh Island home. The white walls, big open balconies and glass doors reflect his mindset. Nooks and corners are bathed in bright blues. Fuchsia is set against black and white photos of his childhood, parents, wife and two sons.

“My mother was always very scared. But I was very sure that I wanted to fly… Just like the kite,” says Irrfan as he rolls up a cigarette, takes a deep puff and continues looking across at the distant sea. “I wasn’t one to be tied down by lines, boundaries and discipline. It was very important for me to be free. In character and in action...”...Your attitude seems to translate into your actions, because the kind of work you do definitely does not conform to any given rules. How can it?
That is not my mindset. In fact, I hate routine and discipline. I think it ties a person down completely. I also hated school. Just hated it. I wanted to get out of it the minute I walked in. So much so that today I don’t even like going to a gym or running on a treadmill. The repetitive action of running bores me. I liked playing. Any sport or game interested me. And I was good at most of them.
IrrfanBut given your profession, is there any escaping the gym routine?
True, there isn’t. But I don’t do it regularly. I get into gym mode only if I am playing a character that requires a body type like that. Like when I did The Warrior [a film by British-Indian filmmaker Asif Kapadia, in which Irrfan played the central character of a warrior in Rajasthan] in 2001 or recently Paan Singh Tomar. But not on a regular basis.
Paan Singh Tomar. Your award winning performance with all that running you did... did it need extensive training?
I trained of course. You just can’t run a hurdle race. There are some technicalities that you must understand. You have to reduce the distance between your feet and the hurdle and you can’t adjust your steps only when you’re close to the hurdle, so you have to maintain a rhythm.
I started my training three months before we started shooting. The coach came, taught me the basics, then went off. I practised on my own for some time, then he came back again. And so on. We had also planned the shoot in such a way that we would shoot the running scenes at intervals. But it so happened that all of them got shot together. So, for nearly a month, I was just running day and night.
And running barefoot on camera...
Yeah, but actually that isn’t a problem. In fact, all you have to do is find even ground. Then you are sorted.
When did you realise you wanted to act?
Oh! When I was very young. I think I was in Class 10 when I first saw a film. And I was so struck by it. I knew then that I wanted to act. But I couldn’t share this with anyone. No one would take me seriously. I was thin, extremely shy and had a voice like a woman. It took me nearly a year and a half to even tell my best friend about my deep desires. Poor him! On the face of it, he encouraged me but knowing my family, he knew I was in deep s***. (Laughs)
Your family wouldn’t have approved?
Absolutely not. Cinema was and to a very large extent even today is looked down upon back at my home. Though of course it’s much better today. In fact, we weren’t allowed to watch films for the longest time. It was considered a frivolous, naachne-gaane-walon ka profession. No one really took it seriously. I had to lie to go and watch a film. In fact, it took a great deal of story-telling. I had to go to great lengths to explain my absence from the house for three hours. I remember once I even cut myself on my hands and feet just to distract my parents’ attention after I had gone to watch a film.

Even today, after the National Award, my mother’s first reaction was: “Okay, so you seem sorted for now, what of the future?” All I could say was: “Ji, uska bhi jugad kar raha hun.” [I am working towards it].
Judging by your independent mindset, it seems like you had an interesting family...
My family was a strange mix. We lived in Jaipur. The value system and culture is traditional and conventional but my family isn’t fanatically conservative. My mother never did purdah. My father and her – in a small place like Tonk in Rajasthan – would roam about in an open jeep. Ma came from a high profile family of hakims and my father was a nawab. They had seen some glorious times but then fell on hard days. Neither of them took anything from their families. They were completely self made. My father never really believed in bookish knowledge. He didn’t insist on academics, my mother did. It was very important for her. For dad, learning a craft and perfecting it was far more important. He respected that. So it was a strange mix. Films were taboo. But they didn’t raise an eyebrow when I decided to marry a Hindu, Bengali girl.
Really, you mean there was no drama?
It wasn’t filmi at all. In fact Sutapa [his wife] and I often joke that the response from both families was too thanda! I knew her parents well and would often go to their house in Chittaranjan Park in Delhi. Both her parents and brother loved me unconditionally. There was a lot of affection and high regard. So they were rather happy when we decided to marry. My mother, on the other hand, was a bit apprehensive but once she met Sutapa, she was fine. Her concern was the other way round. She believed I was too much of a vagabond and kept worrying that I would dump Sutapa. She would keep telling me, “Usko dhokha mat de diyo!”
You met Sutapa at the National School Of Drama (NSD), right? Yes, we were classmates. She was this studious, smart, English-speaking, skirt-and jeans-clad, hep Dilliwali and I was the backbencher vagabond from the cow belt. We hero-worshipped Mithun Chakraborty and she talked Robert De Niro. But we were friends. We talked, argued, hated each other, but we also missed each other and watched each other’s back. She was poor in drawing, so I’d often do her art work and take money for my bidis and chai from her. We couldn’t afford cigarettes. I would save only 25 paise from my scholarship money and couldn’t waste it on bidis. In fact, Sutapa liked playing the caretaker.
IrrfanYour time at the NSD was a turning point in your life, wasn’t it?
Completely. It was the game-changer for me. My father had passed away around the same time and being the eldest of four children, it was obviously supposed to be my responsibility to get the family in order. But I knew that my life in Jaipur was over and done with. I was desperate to get out at any cost. I couldn’t do any more of the useless evenings with friends, the idle gossip, the looking at girls and general waste of time. It was over. My admission to NSD was like my ticket to freedom. I had to pay R300 as my fees. I didn’t have the money. Friends didn’t really help, so I finally borrowed it from my sister. Ma wasn’t too happy. It was only after I convinced her that it was a proper course with classes and a curriculum that she let me go. The only lie that I told her was that once done, I would come back to Jaipur and become a theatre professor or some such. That was a possibility for sure, but it wasn’t ever in my mind. My goal was very clear. It was films and only films.
But truly, NSD was my first flight! I was free for the first time. I was learning what I wanted to. There were no questions, no answers, no restrictions, no timings, no lies, no excuses. We learned a great deal – history, literature, etc – but the whole feeling was one of complete freedom. I loved it. The only thing that I didn’t ever understand was how anyone could put a method to feeling. For me, good or realistic acting was only possible if there was an emotional connect with the character. And no school can teach you to feel emotion. Either you have it or you don’t.
You were sure you wanted to do films. But was it difficult to get that first break?
Actually no. My first film Salaam Bombay [1988] just happened. I was still in my final year of NSD when Mira [Nair] came and cast me in the film. And then it just started. In fact, I came to Mumbai only when filmmaker Govind Nihalani called me and wanted me to do some plays.
Why did you move to TV then?
Do you remember the kind of films that were made in the ’90s? It was the worst period for Hindi cinema. VCRs had come in and the middle class had stopped going to the theatres. Movies were being made only for the front-stall audiences. And as we were entering films, parallel cinema was breathing its last. So what was the option? It may not have been my first choice but I can’t deny that TV gave me a great high. People still talk about Banegi Apni Baat and Chandrakanta. I experienced stardom for the first time with these two serials.
Till Haasil and The Warrior happened...
Those two films were again turning points. Asif [Kapadia, film director] had seen some of my work and gave me The Warrior. Till the film was complete, I had no idea how it had shaped up. It was only after the film premiered in New York that I realised the magnitude of the whole thing and the overwhelming response. It had a strange effect on people. In London, people came out of the theatres and said they felt cleansed. The media went crazy. All they talked about was my presence. For the first time I became aware of a thing called screen presence and the fact that I had it.
The India appeal though still eluded me till Haasil in 2003. Tigmanshu [Dhulia, film director] and I were in NSD together. We are friends first. It was his first film and a life changer for me. Haasil got me my first brush with stardom in films. I wasn’t the hero. I was the villain in the film but I won awards and was recognised as an actor in Hindi films.
But life didn’t change much, did it?
No. In fact, my wait for a good role, a big film and a call from a big director kept increasing. I would wait endlessly for that one phone call. People would see me on TV or in some films, appreciate me, but it never translated into big films. I was desperate. I was even ready to play a side villain’s sidekick. But that too didn’t happen. And I could never go and ask for work. I was too shy and found it very humiliating to go and tell people to see my pictures or give me a job.
Do you feel you were underrated?
Initially maybe. But I realised I was a certain type. I wasn’t your quintessential hero. I was more an actor and Hindi cinema didn’t really have scripts, roles or films to cast me adequately. We didn’t make such films then. Now it’s changing. This is not the peak, we’ll come to that in a few years. I have done some great films, Maqbool, Saat Khoon Maaf, Billu Barber, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Rog... And of course Paan Singh Tomar... But they came at intervals. Now there are some great directors who have different sensibilities. People like Anurag Basu, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Milan Luthria, Vishal Bhardwaj, they are ready to push the envelope, and that is what we need.
You have done select work in Hindi cinema but you are India’s best known name in Hollywood...
Thank God and yes, touch wood, I am in an enviable position there. But that is again perhaps because directors in Hollywood are ready to take the risk. Be it Asif Kapadia, [The Warrior], Michael Winterbottom [A Mighty Heart], Danny Boyle [Slumdog Millionaire] or even Ang Lee [Life of Pi], each one of them was ready to play with the character and let your performance flow. There are no set rules. They don’t cast you in the same mould. The Warrior gave me screen presence and in The Namesake [2006] my character was supposed to be almost invisible. The only reason I keep doing Hollywood is because they awaken the actor in you. The experience of your performance is brilliant. As an actor you feel enriched. There is no money there. It’s only the feel.
No money?
No. One, they don’t pay very well. Two, whatever they pay, they take more than half of it in taxes. And the amount of time that they demand, you can do 10 films in India in that time. But the experience as an actor is unparalleled.
Did you think Paan Singh Tomar would do so well?
Of course not. We believed in the film. Tigmanshu, me and the rest of the crew. But no one else did. Why do you think it was in the cans for four years? But every film has a vibe, an energy. It comes with its own destiny. This film too had it. All through when we were making the film, it kept encountering hurdles but every time, it worked its way out. The vibe was very positive.
   
Slumdog Millionaire had the same thing. The original studio refused to sell it. They decided to take it out in DVDs. Danny Boyle panicked, took the film to Toronto, 200 people from Fox Searchlight saw the film and wanted it immediately. It was released only in one theatre in New York but then it started rolling and crossed $300 million.
Even in The Namesake, it was supposed to be Gogol’s film [the lead protagonist]. My character of Ashok Ganguly was a side track. But the film ended up being Ganguly’s film. Could we have predicted it or planned it? No. It’s destiny.
You believe in destiny?
Yes, I feel life has a design for you. You can’t change it. So there are two ways: either try and figure out what, how, when, why, life, death; or just believe that you are living a free life. You have to be patient and let life take its course. You can romance life
better this way.
Are you a romantic?
Hard core. I am a very passionate, romantic man. I love being in love. It makes you sensitive. I look for romance, humour and wit even in the most serious roles. In fact I hate being serious. I keep trying to put in witty one-liners in my dialogues. Unfortunately, no one has really given me a role like that. Life In A... Metro was the only film where I experimented with humour. I also did Dil Kabaddi but it didn’t work that well.
So is that your next avatar?
Well, I am waiting. I know I want to do an action-romantic film. But I have to wait for a good script and a good director who will cast me. Life is transient... I am living every moment.
From HT Brunch, March 31

Monday, April 1, 2013

nandita dutta in conversation with sanjay chauhan

sanjay chouhanचवन्‍नी के पाठकों के लिए संजय चौहान का यह इंटरव्‍यू डियर सिनेमा से लिया गया है।

From stealing his sister’s money to watch films in Bhopal to winning awards for Best Screenplay for Paan Singh Tomar-which also won the National Award for Best Film 2012-Sanjay Chouhan has come a long way. His impressive portfolio includes Saheb Biwi aur GangsterI am Kalaam and Maine Gandhi ko Nahi Maara. Chouhan’s experience in the Hindi film industry spans an era when he was blatantly given DVDs to copy to a time when he won the Filmfare and Screen awards for his original screenplay on the life of an athlete who turned bandit.
Chouhan gives a lowdown on the fate of writers of Hindi films then and now, and some useful tips for aspiring writers wanting to break into the industry:
Content driven films have been in the limelight at all mainstream award functions this year; you won the Screen and Filmfare awards for Paan Singh Tomar. How do you think the role of a screenwriter has transformed in this scenario?
I will put this in perspective. There was a time when the emphasis was on writing; you take any writer whether it is Abrar Alvi or Ahmad Abbas. These writers were respected a lot. There was also a director – writer combination. Then came an era when Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar came together and wrote films. This brought in a phenomenal change and created a platform for writers. After they split, very few writers could match up to their mark. Thus began the worst period of Hindi film writing, called the DVD writing. They gave you a DVD and you had to just copy that scene by scene, not even sparing a train or a bus accident in the given film. It was very convenient. I recall an interview with Javed Akhtar where he said that when he went to a producer and narrated a story, the producer said, “Darling your script is very good, but there has been no film made on this earlier.”
They gave you a DVD and you had to just copy that scene by scene, not even sparing a train or a bus accident in the given film. It was very convenient. I recall an interview with Javed Akhtar where he said that when he went to a producer and narrated a story, the producer said, “Darling your script is very good, but there has been no film made on this earlier.”
Then came Sony Pictures and madeSaawariyan. Sony’s entry was followed by the entry of Disney Pictures and 20th Century Fox. These Hollywood studios started setting up shops here and that purified our lives. As a writer, I am very thankful to them. Because they started monitoring what kind of films we are making. If we copied their films, they would send notices. So now the producers who blatantly copied DVDs became ready to spend money on scripts. They would rather spend 10-15 lakhs on an original script than pay crores of rupees to these studios to copy their scripts. Now they started looking for content, for story and simultaneously for a secret formula. They went to South India, picked up the hit films that are quite popular and remade them in Hindi. In another 3-4 years this too will reach a saturation point.
Content driven films came in 2-3 years back, but emphasis was not so much on writing. It was more on who is the hero. The belief was that if there is a good hero, the film will do well but then films with big names started failing left, right and centre. I think only Salman Khan has a real fan following. His films are able to earn crores despite being bad films. Right now it’s working like that, I can’t predict the future.
So the producers and heroes sit back and wonder what to do. I don’t think Akshay Kumar would have done a Special 26 three years back. As for his other film Oh My God! that entered the 100 crore club, who is the hero of the film? Paresh Rawal. Who is Paresh Rawal? He is a fifty year old guy. But the content of the film worked. So they must have also realized that if there is content, it is worth a try. Similarly, Aamir Khan does all kinds of content driven films, be it 3 Idiots or Talaash. If you see the Filmfare nominations this year, you will see that content driven films like Vicky Donor,ShanghaiKahaaniGangs of Wasseypur and Paan Singh Tomar stood strong. I think the time has come for content driven films and this has brought in a lot of responsibility on us to create that kind of content.
What you are saying is that a majority of Hindi films are still copies of Southern hits?
Yes. We have to understand that the Hindi film industry… and the moment we call it an industry, it’s commerce not art. And everyone who is putting crores of rupees into a project, the first thing that comes to their mind is that you are not doing charity but investing in a business. So he/she wants to know whether it will give returns or not. But when the producer sees that this south Indian film has done good business, it has the formula, it has the ingredients, it is well scripted, for example, Ghajini had an amazing screenplay; they go for it. Now because the producer makes money through these films, he / she has the chance to make a Paan Singh Tomar. The same studio makes Barfi! as well as Dabangg.
saheb
Still from Saheb Biwi aur Gangster
Producers go for security; they go where they get their investments back. Even if you or I take that seat, we will ask for that. If the content is strong and risk is less, the project is taken up. If you make a film of 60 crores, then you spend another 30 to 40 crores on print and publicity and it becomes a 100 crore film. So it’s a huge loss if the film fails.
At the same time content driven films are being recognized. Do you think now writers are getting their due?
When Paan Singh Tomar was ready but was not getting released, it was a frustrating period for us. We were all confused about what to do. Then Tigmanshu said we will make a small budget film, in 40 lakhs. We will not charge our fee and when the film is made we will take our shares.
पूरा इंटरव्‍यू पढ़ने के लिए यहां क्लिक करें....

Decoding Irrfan - shubhra gupta

Fillकल रविवार 31 मार्च 2013 को शुभ्रा गुप्‍ता ने दंडियन एक्‍सप्रेस में लिखा।

Where does the National Award winner go from here?
Irrfan is amongst those actors who are the quickest to invade your mind, and the slowest to leave it. As befits the kind of actor who wears someone's skin so close to his own that the two are practically indistinguishable, he's got himself a National Award for Best Actor for Paan Singh Tomar. The award is richly deserved, and as awards go, it is one of those choices which are faultless, recognising a great character played by a great chameleon.
But it also led me to a question. Despite his obvious excellence, and the hunger he exhibits with each role, has Irrfan reached a plateau? A National Award for a particular role can have the effect of a straitjacket, quite apart from an actor's own predisposition, or rujhaan (a much more effective word for 'leaning towards'). Where does he go from here? That he is an actor of worth is acknowledged both in India and outside: for an international casting agent, all roads lead to Irrfan. Can his big win move him from the periphery of edgy roles to a more central position?
This is an actor in his prime, and, most of the time, a complete joy to watch. Just a few weeks ago, in a film which wouldn't have been what it was if Irrfan hadn't been in it, he gave us a scorching rendition of a flawed lover, the sort Hindi cinema usually has no space for. The love he has for a young woman who is clearly above his station in Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns has a mix of longing and betrayal. It's not that he loves her less when he is with another woman, but he is a man, and weak, and the pleasures of the flesh are allowed to be a momentary diversion. When he is hurt, he cries. When he is raging, he is a volcano. His portfolio has been missing a lover since Maqbool, and in this 'gangister', he shows how powerfully swayed by passion he can be.
Now, when you think of Paan Singh Tomar, even those of us who did have a faint, black-and-white recall of what the real athlete-turned-dacoit looked like, you think only of Irrfan. The movie character is the result of mining moffussil memories, as well as taking into account sports journalists who covered athletics at the time he was running (and winning) races for the country. Till the time the script is being written, it is on the page. And then, when it leaps onto the screen, you need an actor. Prepared. Taut. On his mark. Straining every sinew to win a race, both on the track, and off it. Paan Singh Tomar needed an Irrfan, and they've romped home, breasting the tape, for a win.
That victory is as much of the director as it is of the actor. Because an actor needs someone who knows him or her well. Either that, or someone who knows how to play actors to their strengths. In Life Of Pi, Irrfan is a bookend. He is the narrator, telling the story of Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel) to a listener who appears entranced much too soon. Being Irrfan, he invests his small part with the inflection and pauses an Indian having lived overseas for many years may exhibit. But it is a stilted role, and the actor feels becalmed. And that has everything to do with Ang Lee, whose building up of character has been much more impressive in his other films in cultures he knows better: Indian characters (played by Indian actors, which includes Tabu, too) are clearly not his zone.
Pi-Irrfan was a Gujarati in Canada, and to me, a character who could have been more. Cultural specificities do not always have to come in the way, though. As a Bengali in the US in The Namesake, Irrfan was so much better. It was a character that came to us via author Jhumpa Lahiri who created with great fidelity a certain Bengali of a certain era, who then got transferred on the screen via director Mira Nair. Irrfan nails it, the intrinsic Bengali-ness of Ashoke Ganguli which never quite goes away, as firmly entrenched as the accent, even after so many years in America. By comparison, Tabu who in many ways is Irrfan's female counterpart in the good acting department, stutters.
Finally, an actor needs a role with meat, and a director's unswerving vision. Irrfan is poised nicely at this moment. Hollywood can only come and go. Can Bollywood grab him and create roles that only he can fill? I'm waiting for someone to put him in a rom com: his little flash (a darting glance at Konkona Sen Sharma's bosom, calibrated to be interested but not creepy) in Life in a Metro has left me wanting more. Anyone who can look at a girl's chest, and come off well while doing it, deserves a medal. And several awards.