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Affairs to remember

Debuting at 17 in her dad’s Daddy, she acted in 26 films before switching lanes to film production and direction. Pooja Bhatt gets uber-chatty on topics - public and private - with Shaikh Ayaz.

entertainment Updated: Aug 11, 2007 17:10 IST

She was the original chatpatti girl of showtown. Today, the tabloids miss going psst psst about her liaisons while critics miss her feisty performances.

Debuting at the age of 17 in her dad’s Daddy, she acted in 26 films before switching lanes, a decade ago, to film production and eventually direction.

Whether at home with husband Munna Makhija or at work, finessing her upcoming film Dhokha, she seems to have mellowed. Or has she? Pooja Bhatt gets uber -chatty on topics, public and private, with Shaikh Ayaz

Most of your father Mahesh Bhatt’s cinema is sourced from his life. You don’t seem to go down that route at all. It seems your new film as a director almost foresaw the Glasgow bomb attack. Right?
( Severely ) Please, let’s not trivialise the issue. It’s a sensitive topic. Dhokha , in a way, is my return to the roots.. to films like Zakhm and Tamanna. In India and even abroad, today Muslims are looked upon suspiciously. They are seen as either gangsters and terrorists or on the other end of the spectrum, as extremely scholarly and knowledgeable persons. There’s a tendency to generalise their voices at one or the other end of the extreme. There’s no moderate voice. Dhokha offers that moderate perspective.

Is it pro-minority?
It is pro-life.There’s a look at both the sides of the issue.. it would be very irresponsible for me to offer a lopsided version. The fact is that terrorism isn’t a solution to any problem. We realised the gravity of global terrorism when the trail of the failed UK attacks led to our own backyard (in Bangalore).

Why haven’t you looked at the issue in a politically and communally volatile town like Malegaon or in a Kashmir hamlet?
The story demanded that the milieu should be in a city, which is a seat of power. It could only have been Delhi or Mumbai.

It’s stale news now that you slapped your lead actor, Muzammil Ibrahim, for procrastinating over a scene. Would you ever work with him again?
Get this straight. I didn’t slap him.. I smacked him.. so that he never dares to mistreat a woman ever again. And no, I’ll never work with him again.. even if Dhokha wins an Oscar.

Most critics believe that you are a better actress than a director.
( Pleased) Yeah? I’m glad if they say that about my acting. With Dhokha, I have nothing to lose. I can break all the rules. So far, you would have detected a bit of my personality in all my films. The very fact that I could do that has been a triumph of sorts for me. After Jism, I was offered Rs 1.20 crore for a Rs 70 lakh territory. The trade probably thought with a title like Paap, I was making Jism2.

I’d knowingly fallen into a trap. Then came Holiday which has been described as the biggest flop of my career. Still I can say with a certain amount of pride that it set a standard for dancing which no other film has.

For a while in the 1990s, your father borrowed heavily from Hollywood films. Today, he remakes his own films. Woh Lamhe was a pot pourri of Arth and Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi. Isn’t that strange?
When Raj Kapoor and Nargis did Chori Chori, no one could detect that it was sourced from It Happened One Night. So why was there a hue and cry when we made Dil Hai ki Maanta Nahin? As for Woh Lamhe, I haven’t produced that film.

You should ask my uncle (Mukesh Bhatt) and dad about it. Just the way I can’t take any credit for hits like

Ghulam

and

Raaz

, I can’t talk about the where

Woh Lamhe

came from and why.

Although Mahesh Bhatt is a respected filmmaker, at times his media quotes one verything from the potholes on the city’s roads to the condition of stray dogs, do become irritating.
Has he ever spoken about potholes and dogs? I don’t think so. Sure, he has his opinions but then,why do journalists call him?

Er, don’t blame me. I never call him for quotes.
I’m not blaming you, I’m talking in general.Why don’t journalists call Mr Amitabh Bachchan and get his opinions on every subject under the sun? Bhatt saab is accessible.. so he’s subjected to this kind of media harangue. He has strong opinions which hurt at times.. and he’s never afraid of voicing them.

Has there ever been a clash of opinions between him and you?
Of course, I publicly expressed my concerns about his decision to release the Parveen Babi tapes.

Madhuri Dixit is back. Sridevi is expected to return. Have you ever contemplated a comeback to acting.
I somehow don’t like the word ‘comeback’. I haven’t gone anywhere, so I can’t possibly make a comeback. From 1997 onwards, I have produced nine films, directed three.. three has been no time to focus on anything else.

I’d love to act. But I want to do a role which suits my age. I can’t be running around trees or whatever they are running around nowadays. If I were cast with let’s say, Kangana Ranaut, I’d like to play her elder sister.

How do you look back on your failed relationships with Bobby Deol, Sohail Khan and Ranvir Shorey?
Oh, I did meet Bobby and Sohail at Dino’s place during the making of Holiday. They are very well behaved and respectful.. even Aly (Khan) is very cordial. For me, they are pleasant memories. After meeting Munna, I realised I love him the most.. I realised that I’ve never ever loved anyone else the way I love him. My only unpleasant relationship was the last one.. before my marriage. The public spat that followed was utterly avoidable. I don’t want to name the person and give him any importance. He’s in a relationship right now, I have to be respectful of the woman in his life.