Subhash Ghai, wife Rehana, daughters Meghna and Muskaan, granddaughter Annya and son-in-law Rahul Puri share toast, eggs and magic moments with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
With Yuvvraaj just days away from release what’s the mood like?
Subhash Ghai: Let me tell you a story. Years ago, there was this famous painter. His closest friend would drop in at the studio occasionally, and the master would unveil his new work for him. There was usually a little boy around who held the colour palette while the artist worked.
The paintings were always awesome. Only one didn’t appeal and when the friend admitted as much, the master said, “Come back in three months and I’ll show you another.” As he was leaving, the friend noted that the little apprentice wasn’t around.
The little boy was back when he visited the studio the next time and the painting was marvelous. Accepting the compliments, the master smiled, “Every once in a while I turn to my young friend here for his reaction. If he nods, I know it’s going well. The last time he wasn’t around.. and as you pointed out, the work was mediocre.”
So what I mean is that every creative person in the world needs approval.. and I’m no exception.
What if that approval doesn’t come?
Subhash: I’m disappointed but never demoralised. After 15 years, I don’t have to prove my talent any more. I just wish the criticism wouldn’t get personal.. rip the performance if you don’t like it but not the performer.
Rehana: I’ve seen my husband struggle every step up the ladder. He came to the industry to become a hero. After Umang failed, he was ready to run away to his maasi in London. But I stopped him. I knew he’d make it, he could tell a good story.
Kalicharan was a hit but it was dismissed as a fluke. Vishwanath worked and they said it was because of the hangover of Kalicharan. He had to make Karz to prove that he had an ear for music and Hero to show that he could make a superhit with rank newcomers.
At which point was he at his lowest?
Rehana: After Kisna. He’s such a good husband that he doesn’t like to share his troubles with us. But I could see that he was really upset. He had so wanted to make a big film.. a good film. For a while I was worried but he bounced back.
Meghna:For me the low point was Yaadein, probably because I was handling the distribution too. It was a unique story but I guess you have to lose a parent to understand that kind of love and bonding. But my dad’s a fighter.. I owe my resilience to him. I’ve never seen him stressed.
Subhash: (Laughing): I was stressed when she told me that she wanted to marry Rahul. The guy came to meet me wearing a suit. I could see he was really tense. And I knew then that he loved Meghna. My tension dissipated. Poof!
Meghna: We started dating when we were in college and Rahul had no clue about my family till he came into my room and found a picture of dad on my oftboard, along with those of Tom Cruise and Aamir Khan. He was like, “Don’t tell me you’re a Subhash Ghai fan?” and I said, “No, he’s my dad.”
(Laughing) It’s taken him six years to adjust to life in Mumbai with a film family. And it’s only now that he’s getting there.
Rahul: Growing up in London with parents who were doctors and brothers who were investment bankers, I had no exposure to Hindi cinema. But I had seen Karz and had loved it. And Ram Lakhan too which I thought was like the encyclopedia of Bollywood.
What did you think of the new Karzzzz?
Subhash: None of us have seen it yet because we’ve been so busy with Yuvvraaj. But I was flattered to be paid Rs 3 crore for the copyright. They wanted me to direct it but I have 30 new stories in mind and I don’t want to go back. I thought it was better to let young blood reinterpret my Karz.
Meghna: I was two when the film released. And I would go around saying, “Paisa.” I guess I liked the song Paisa yeh paisa.
Rehana: Karz is my favourite too. So’s Vidhaata and Pardes.
Pardes struck a chord with me as well. I’d just gone away to boarding school and really missed my parents so I could empathise with Mahima’s character. Like her, I too would cry quietly whenever I called home without letting them know I was lonely.
I see the same father-daughter bonding between Katrina (Kaif) and her father in Yuvvraaj and it reminds me of daddy and me. There’s a scene where she introduces him to her boyfriend (Salman Khan) which is wonderful and funny.
Rahul: Aishwarya’s (Rai) loyalty to her father in Taal also reminded me of Meghna and her dad. She’s truly daddy’s girl. I grew up with no girl around for miles. But seeing him with Meghna and Muskaan, I hope I have the same relationship with my daughter Annya.
Subhash: (Smiling): Taal was the highpoint of my career. It was a mix of the traditional and the modern. And the one DVD I see in almost every NRI home. Even though the plot was borrowed from one of the 12 oft-repeated ones, the film has had a long shelf life.
Muskaan, which of daddy’s films is your favourite?
Muskaan: (Who’s just six and nibbling on her toast): Hmmm..!
Subhash:She’s more into cartoons.. and her little doggy, Happy.
Muskaan (Smiling): Didi got him for me but daddy is very nice too.
Rehana (Smiling): Yes, that he is.
How did the romance blossom?
Rehana (Blushing): Oh, that was years ago. He was at the institute (FTII) in Pune and I lived in the same galli. We would bump into each other often. He was very charming. But love took its time.
And then he proposed?
Rehana: No, we never discussed marriage. But after my mother died, my dad had a heart-to-heart with him. He confessed that he was serious about me but wanted to make something of his life before getting married. But we didn’t have to wait long. Soon after he signed Aradhana, my father told him it was time to tie the knot. And the love and trust have only grown over the years.
Meghna: Dad and mom’s relationship is a lot like that of Dilip Kumar and Nutan in Karma. She looks soft but she’s the strong one.. he’s the emotional one.
What do you think of Yuvvraaj?
Rehana: It has the look. You’ve never seen Austria or Prague look so beautiful. But then even Khandala looks beautiful in my husband’s films.
Rahul: When I was growing up my favourite movie was The Empire Strikes Back. The Star Wars movies was what cinema was about.. grandeur, colour, music and an engaging story. I’d say Yuvvraaj is on that scale.
Subhash: For me cinema is 70 mm. With the exception of Black & White which focused on an issue, all my films have been about magnum moments and beautiful frames. Yuvvraaj is an oft-told story of three bothers but the presentation makes it different.
Meghna: It’s a family album that will leave you with a smile.. just like ours.