National Award-winning film-maker Ketan Mehta is inarguably one of the most revered film personalities in Bollywood. While his earlier works, Bhavni Bhavai (1980) and Sardar (1993), among others, had received critical appreciation, Ketan feels that now is the time to make more films, as he thinks that the audience has become receptive. "I have been trying to blur lines between the so-called art and commercial cinema for the past 20 years. And now that audiences are encouraging different stories, it is an exciting phase for filmmakers," he says.
adds that the young audience today is exposed to work from all over the world. "They are aware of what's happening, and are much more educated about cinema than people were 20 years ago. So, a whole new audience has emerged," says the filmmaker, adding, "Many new film-makers have also emerged from the younger generation. And because the audience is so supportive, the filmmakers have also become more adventurous, and are making different kinds of movies."
Ketan also feels that film exhibitors should show more confidence in new film-makers and actors, as they have brought in the new wave with content-based films. "Good films do well at the box office, and it isn't true that only nonsense sells today. But, exhibitors have been late in recognising this phenomenon. They will have to change [their mindset]," he says.
While discussing the change in Bollywood, Ketan also discusses how people in the industry become obsessed with biopics. The filmmaker, who has made biopics like Sardar and The Rising: Ballad Of Mangal Pandey (2005), has two more lined up for release. "I think there are people who see it (making biopics) as a trend and jump into it. They are just trying to take a shortcut to success. I make them because real-life stories attract me. These stories are inspiring. I hope my next, with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, leaves an impact," he says.
Apart from films, Ketan Mehta also discusses the importance of resolving the ongoing tiff between the central government and the students of Film And Television Institute Of India, Pune. Commenting on students' protest against the government's decision to appoint Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the prestigious institute, Ketan says it is extremely "unfortunate". He says, "India produces many films, and has a large number of prominent film-makers and technicians, who have made an impact all over the world. I am sure it is possible to find a chairman, who will be respected across board. Politics should be kept away from all aspects of education, and I am hoping that there is some kind of understanding between the government and the students soon."