Monday, June 16, 2008

Salman Apologized…and we moved on

Salman with whom Subhash Ghai once had a major run-in, is back in Ghai's ambit.

Ask the seasoned filmmaker about it, and he explains, "It's like this. I've a sister who spent her childhood with me. Then she broke away from me and left for her husband's home. Then she had children and they left her home.

Situations and relationships change. And when people are close to each other they fight. If you love someone deeply he's bound to come back in your life. Salman and I share a deep bond.

Somewhere he always wanted to work with me. I always treated him like a child. He's my friend Salim Saab's friend. When Salman fought with me, Salim Saab ordered him to come to my home and apologize. He came home early the next day and apologized."

The filmmakers continues to speak fondly of Salman. "He's a good soul. And I realize he's truly a gem of a person. If he had watched his steps he would become an emperor in the entertainment business.

Apart from a few films his talent hasn't been exploited well. Even he doesn't know how talented he is. I don't want to present him as Salman in Yuvraj. I want to present him as an actor, like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam did."

He's excited about directing again.

"I'm free to direct films again because my 27-year old daughter is fully looking after our film school now. Before you ask me, why I'm directing a film after three years let me tell you, I've spent the last three years setting up my film school Whistling Woods.

I wanted to get the faculty and curriculum right. Whatever time remained I spent supervising our productions. Now when I freer I'm directing two back-to-back films."

Subhash says Yuvraj is about the arrogance of contemporary youth. "You want to know who's the Yuvraj? Salman, Anil Kapoor or Zayed Khan? If I reveal that who would want to see my film?

Yuvraj is about the over-confidence of today's youth. Every one wants to be a rock star, regardless of whether they have the morals to go with the appellation."

He says he isn't into signing stars just to raise his equity. "I don't want to be known as the producer who signed Shah Rukh during one year, Aamir the next year and Salman the following year. That's not my ambition.

I want to add to the talent in the industry, and give our cinema reason to be proud 10 and 50 years from now. As for stars. I've seen four generations of superstars come during my time—Dilip Kumar Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.

No one can remain a superstar for more than fifteen years. Aaj Hrithik aa gaya hai na. There will be more talent coming in. Maybe a lot of this talent will come from Whistling Woods. But it would be talent with knowledge, not ignorance.

Aaj-kal a majority of the stars and directors don't know the craft. Only some like Vinod Chopra and Sanjay Bhansali know their craft. We hope to change that."

What about the scarcity of good screenwriters? "The film industry has been moaning about it for the last thirty years. No one has done anything about it except the Chopras and Barjatyas.

We've a story workshop at Mukta Arts. But you've to pay them. Today everyone who wants to be a writer becomes a writer. That isn't the way creativity works.

My little daughter Muskaan can dabble on a piano. It doesn't mean she's qualified to be a music composer. In Yuvraj I've got a team of six writers to write the screenplay, three of them veterans (including me) and three youngsters.

These innovative writers will guide the veterans. Right from Kalicharan to Kisna I've had a team of writers. I think screenwriting is a collaborative effort."

Call him a seasoned musician first, a filmmaker second…and Subhash protests, "I won't take that as a compliment. Drama was my passion from childhood. Music came much later.

But yes, music plays a very important part in my creativity. My early films like Kalicharan started as a drama and then the music was added on. My latest directorial venture Black & White was also a drama with music in it."

AR Rahman who worked earlier with Subhash Ghai in Taal and a part of Kisna is back in Yuvraj. "Rahman and I have been in touch constantly. We jell really well. Like Taal, Yuvraj is based on music.

I've told Rahman, Yuvraj belongs to two people, Rahman and Subhash Ghai, in that order. All the main characters are musicians in Yuvraj."

As for people talking about Salman recommending Katrina Kaif as the female lead in Yuvraj. "This is a modern film with a European backdrop. The girl is an NRI. I never asked Salman whom I should sign.

And very honestly Salman never recommended her. And even before Namaste London clicked we had finalized her. Salman and Katrina were signed as independent entities."

What about the lack of chemistry on screen between real-life couples? "Why do you say that?" protests Subhash Ghai.

"What about Raj Kapoor-Nargis, Dharmendra-Hema Malini? Look at Guru. Audiences loved it much more once they got to know Abhishek and Aishwarya are in love. It's up to the filmmaker to tap their potential.

I'll present Salman and Katrina in such a way that even those who don't know they love one another would want to see them in love."

Ghai has two banners in his production house. "Black & White is very close to my heart. It introduced an extraordinary actor Anurag Sinha from Bihar. He's a trained actor, intelligent and well-researched and cultured. The other hero in Black & White was Anil Kapoor who also features in Yuvraj.

He's part of my family. And I'd like to cast him in all my films. He has tremendous faith in me. When my Kisna flopped the sky fell on other people, not me, not Anil, " he ends tongue-in-cheek.

As for the fair-weather friends of filmdom here's Subhash Ghai's take: "I laugh more when others cry for me. Lots of stars fight with me and return after three years, saying sorry or pretending nothing ever happened.

I don't hold grudges against anyone. People may think I'm a hypocrite. But I live honestly. And modestly. I still love in a 3-bedroom flat. I want to create a body of talent and cinema that people will remember.

For me Whistling Woods is a mission, not a commercial enterprise. I feel I started not thirty years ago, but yesterday. I wish I had taken better care of my health. Today I want to be as fit as a 21- year old."


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