Everyone in the Hindi film industry has a different tale to tell — some happy some not quite. Some had a godfather to help them make their way through the ‘land of dreams’, while others had to face long years of struggle. In the case of Subhash Kapoor, two of his character traits turned the course of his life — hard work and patience. The director and scriptwriter, who is best known for his 2010 directorial venture, Phas Gaye Re Obama, a satire, talks about his greatest inspiration and life behind the lens.
“During my school days, I used to choreograph Ram Leela every Dusshera. I used to steal my mother’s make-up kit to deck up the male characters backstage. I was a witness to behind-the-scenes reality, which is filled with comic situations and dreamt of capturing it. But, accidentally, I became a journalist,” laughs Subhash.
A postgraduate in Hindi literature from Delhi University, Subhash says he was politically engaged during in the late ’80s. “My love for theatre also propelled me to freelance for art and culture-related features in Hindi newspapers such as Navbharat Times, Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh and others.
In 1995, I started working under Karan Thapar for the channel Home TV (which was eventually shut down), and got a good exposure,” he says. For the next five years, Subhash worked with various news channels, but called it quits in 2000. “It was my period of transition and decision-taking. I left journalism and picked up my camera, without thinking where life would take me,” he adds philosophically.
For 10 days, Subhash travelled to different cities to capture Ram Leela. In the meanwhile, he heard that filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (whose film, Bandit Queen, Subhash had seen 15 times) had launched a company called Digital Talkies in Delhi. “I presented my documentary footage to him, which he loved. I told him I was facing monetary problems that hindered editing, so he offered me his office’s editing facilities. My documentary, Behind the Scenes of Ram Leela, was screened at Asia’s first digital film festival, called Digital Talkies International Film Festival, held at Delhi in March 2001. It was this recognition and my wife’s support that helped me change the course of my life,” he says.
Though Subhash’s first film, Salaam India (2007), didn’t do well, his second, Phas Gaye Re Obama garnered appreciation. His next, says the director, is titled Jolly LLB, again a satire. “It’s a film on an underdog and a realistic and satirical portrayal of the Indian judicial courts,” he says of the film that releases on March 15.
Jolly LLB is far from what is shown in Hindi films, adds he, remarking that statements such as ‘Gita pe haath rakh ke kasam khao,’ are not actually said in courts. Based on ‘real encounters’ faced by Subhash during his journalism days, the film will have an impact, promises the director.
On his favourite genre, he says, “Satire comes in handy when one has to follow a good story-telling technique. And a good story comes with research-based work.” But Subhash is in no rush to write many scripts, as he observes, “Gone are the days when filmmakers used to write scripts on the set. The emphasis is now on quality scripts. So, if after a lot of struggle, I have been a part of Bollywood, I should value it by giving my audience intelligent films.”