I’m not the villain: Sanjay Gupta | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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I’m not the villain: Sanjay Gupta

Even as Zoya, Farhan Akhtar refuse to comment or collect awards for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, director Sanjay Gupta insists he didn’t sabotage their chance of winning Best Film by pointing out similarities with 1985 film, Fandango.

bollywood Updated: Jan 19, 2012 14:39 IST
Prashant Singh
Sanjay-Gupta
Sanjay-Gupta

Bollywood award season has kicked off on a crackling note, quite literally. What started off with filmmaker Sanjay Gupta pointing out similarities – at a closed-door jury meeting of an award function – between Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and the 1985 American film Fandango - has now intensified into a full-blown conflict.

On Friday night, director Zoya Akhtar, actor-producer Farhan Akhtar and producer Ritesh Sidhwani didn’t collect any honours announced for the film, including a tie for Best Film with The Dirty Picture, despite being present at the Colors Screen Awards event, apparently as a protest against Sanjay’s remarks.

But the Zinda director says he is unreasonably being made the villain. “I have nothing against Farhan or Zoya and have always admired and appreciated their work,” says Sanjay, adding that when he had walked into the meeting, it was a hung jury. “So, I gave my vote to The Dirty Picture. Not because of Fandango, but because I believed it was a better film as proven by the fact that it won six major awards including acting, writing and direction,” he insists.

Incidentally, Gupta’s next Shootout At Wadala is being co-produced by Ekta Kapoor, who also produced The Dirty Picture. “Being a filmmaker, I believe a film that wins Best Director deserves to win Best Film. And the entire jury voted for Milan Luthria, no contest,” says Sanjay. He points out that it was Elizabeth director Shekhar Kapur who first voiced his opinion against Zindagi Na Milega Dobara, revealing, “After the first 30 seconds of watching the Fandango trailer, Shekhar Kapur said, ‘Zindagi is out.’ So let’s not make me the villain.”

Sanjay also hit out at the ‘insider’ who revealed the news of the jury’s debate, saying, “We had decided on giving the Best Film award to The Dirty Picture, and then someone leaked the details of our discussion. It’s a clear case of arm-twisting.”

To mark his unhappiness with the incident, Sanjay sent an email to the organisers, saying, “We spent the whole day debating, arguing and voting, and came to the conclusion that The Dirty Picture deserves Best Film. The jury did this together. Then to go back and start speaking to each other individually, and change that decision is most inappropriate.”

Zoya, Farhan and Ritesh remained unavailable for comments.

What is Fandango?
The 1985 film, directed by Kevin Reynolds, involves five college roommates on a last trip before they face the harsh realities of an unpredictable future. They even take bets on daredevil acts like skydiving. As the film progresses, it becomes obvious that they’re trying to postpone the moment when they’ll have to leave college.

Fighting back
Apparently, jury members Sanjay Gupta and Kunal Kohli had a spat over the originality of Zindagi… at the meeting. Kunal says, “Things discussed among jury members should remain a secret. So, whichever jury member brought it out in public has done the wrong thing.” He adds, “You should ask Sanjay Gupta as to who leaked out the details. He is the only one speaking about it. For others, the matter has come to an end.”