Arth, Saaransh, Daddy, Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahi, Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aaye, Sir, Dastak, Sadak, Chaahat and Zakhm. Mahesh Bhatt has been the man behind some of my favourite films of the last twenty years. For Mahesh Bhatt, films have been his labour of love. So when we get the news that he will never be directing any movies and will only be producing, you don’t get shocked. Why? Because you know that the product coming out of Vishesh Films is still going to be engrossing, beautifully crafted and musically mesmerising. It’s monsoon time but to my luck it was a glorious day of sunshine: blue skies and fresh breeze. But when I walk into Mahesh Bhatt’s office, it’s just like every other day. Murder 2 was on everyone’s mind. While the PR is running around lining up a few interviews, Mahesh has just ordered his favourite cuppa chai with ‘khakra’ (Gujarati snack). I order for my green tea. It’s spooky but I clearly recall Mahesh telling me that Murder 2 has all that it’s got to be a box office blockbuster. That was two weeks ago. Yesterday Murder 2 released with packed house in India and again I recall the confidence in his eyes, the love he still has for cinema and his fondness for music, all of this backed with a superlative business head a creative mind that teaches you – Passion is all that takes to make a blockbuster.
“Murder 2 has chaos, angst and pace of today’s time”
The murder brand we have today is bloodier, bolder and a braver product. It has the resonance of the 21st century second decade. It has the chaos, confusion, angst and pace of today’s time.
“Murder 2 is based on the Nithari killings and our social problems like teen prostitutions”
Serial killers aren’t new to world cinema – Jack the Ripper, Silence of the Lambs, there were references that we tried to take. But at the heart of it, Murder 2 is based on the Nithari killings and our social problems like teen prostitutions. We have looked at the pleasure land and the pain behind it. How the people who peddle pleasure actually are very vulnerable and what sort of mad men walk and stalk those people. Nobody would’ve thought that the Nithari killers would’ve looked like me and you and would have their homes turned into graveyards.
“We have learnt a lot about music from our audiences too”
We work very hard when it comes to music. We realise that we don’t have stars. We got to have music that is good which works as the revenue stream with the budgets we work with. If the music is right, you’ve won half the battle. We work a lot on the lyrics. Over the years, Mohit and Kunal have also contributed to our understanding. We understand that with age, your tastes change too. We update ourselves and have allowed our audiences to come and change our old school mentality when it comes to music.
“Jacqueline is more an extension of Parveen Babi, Zeenat Aman”
Jacqueline is a new bird in town. She is unlike Bipasha and Mallika, who are dusky Indian beauties. Jacqueline is more an extension of Parveen Babi, Zeenat Aman. She is emotionally very close to what a Hindi cinema heroine is. She may have a western demeanour but she has a very desi emotional syntax. She is very hardworking, real and intelligent. Her sexuality isn’t obtrusive. She doesn’t feel it’s vulgar and dirty. That’s what is so refreshing about her. Jacqueline is very easy.
“Emraan has made a lot of silent contribution to our films”
Emraan has been the classic story of the hare and the tortoise. He is a tortoise who will soon win the race. He is unpretentious. He is not in awe of his own self. He works with sincerity and he is a very bright kid. Emraan has made a lot of silent contribution to our films. I think with Murder 2 he will come into his own in a very big way. Murder 2 has everything going with it to become a blockbuster. Murder was an out and out a Mallika Sherawat film but Murder 2 is Emraan all the way. The narrative is from his perspective. So it’s his redemption, his ordeal, his angst, etc that you look very closely.
“The flower is genetically there in the seed. I just have to water it and protect it. I do the same with my directors”
I am the least obtrusive of people or so I’d like to believe. I have no desire to continue to delude myself that my kind of cinema that I made is relevant to the times. That’s why I presided over my demolition. I know there is a new idiom here; there is a new generation here. Mohit needs my experience and so does Kunal. They need my insights to steer them to this complicated space. But they have their own energy, their interpretation to what they make. I watch it like a gardener would watch a flower bloom in his backyard. The flower is genetically there in the seed. I just have to water it and protect it. I do the same with my directors.
“We stand nowhere in front of Hollywood films”
With so many award winning, critically commercial films coming out of Hollywood, we are in deep trouble. They have the money, the talent, they superiority, the packaging, the narrative. But what they don’t have the edge that we have. Our films are rooted in its narrative. That is something the West can’t buy. The only way we can sustain in this globalisation is by holding on to our distinct identity, whatever the identity. It’s the confidence that matters at the end of the day.
“Filmmaking is all about counting the number of audiences sitting on that seat”
There may be an entertainment product that has nothing to do with the story telling. You may have stars assembled in a two hours of audio video work where the actor comes and sings and dances. Filmmaking is all about counting the number of audiences sitting on that seat. The opening weekend finally decides the fate of the film. Once you have success, you cannot argue with success because it’s all about figures. But that doesn’t mean that the elementary rules that were made have to be dumped. I think a Dabangg is a film that adheres to the dramaturgy. But I’m told that a Ready does not because Ready is a different animal in the zoo. But there is also a room for Ready because there are takers for such kinds. As far as Vishesh Films is concerned, Pooja will be directing Jism 2 that I am writing. I won’t be directing any more films.