His Mangal Pandey - The Rising courted controversy and now Ketan Mehta's forthcoming Rang Rasiya, a tribute to 19th century painter Raja Ravi Varma, is in the news for the wrong reasons. But the filmmaker is unperturbed and says controversies sometimes help a film by generating curiosity among the audience.
"A lot has been said about the movie ('Rang Rasiya') just after watching the promos, but the movie has been cleared by the censor board, which goes to show that there is no vulgarity or obscenity in it. Still there are controversies surrounding this movie and trust me that will do more good to my film," Mehta told IANS here.
"Mangal Pandey", which was based on India's first war of independence in 1857, was criticised for distorting historical facts by showing the protagonist romancing a prostitute. "Rang Rasiya" is courting controversy for its alleged vulgarity.
But Mehta feels that it has only helped in promoting the film, which is based on Marathi author Ranjit Desai's novel.
"People are already curious after watching the promos and these controversies help a movie in generating more attention. I will not call it negative publicity but the fact is that it is doing more good to my movie," he said.
Randeep Hooda plays the painter and Nandana Sen will be seen as his ethereal muse Sugandha in "Rang Rasiya", which has been shot extensively in different locations in India and also at a huge set in Karjat near Mumbai.
Mehta is confident that this time his extensive research will not let the audience down.
"It took me on and off six years to do my research that included reading all literature associated with that era and I also had to travel a lot to see his actual paintings. I'm sure the audience will like the movie," he said.
The movie will hit the theatres March 27.
Mehta, who has also directed movies like "Mirch Masala" and "Sardar", feels audiences are hungry for change and so directors should get rid of the old masala movies syndrome and come up with innovative scripts.
"Most of the filmmakers lack the passion of doing something new whereas the audience is demanding change. I feel Indian cinema is going through a transformation and it proves that if the script is good, audiences will come to the theatre. The days of star power have gone; now you have to work on your script to attract audiences," he said.
Asked why he chose Randeep and Nandana in the lead roles, Mehta said: "I didn't want to cast stars who carry the baggage of stardom with them. I wanted people who could walk that extra mile with me. I'm very happy with my choice.
"They have performed their roles with perfection as working in a movie like this does demand hard work and some research work and they have done both to the extent that they were living those characters."
The filmmaker's next will be a science fiction.
"For me each new film is an adventure. It is like reinventing my style. I would like to experiment with every form of cinema. I really want to do a sci-fi film," he said.
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )