On July 18, at a convocation of his film school, Whistling Woods International, late cinematographer-director Ashok Mehta was honoured, along with veteran actor Waheeda Rahman, with the Maestro Award for lifetime achievement. “When he was leaving, I told him to get well soon. I wanted him behind the camera for my new film,” says Ghai, who worked with Mehta on Ram Lakhan (1989), Saudagar (1991) and Kisna (2005). Mehta, who was in a wheelchair, responded with a smile, “Jai ho, I’ll be back soon!”
That was Ghai’s last meeting with his friend, who succumbed to lung cancer on August 15. On August 27, the 13th day after his death, Ghai has planned a day-long exhibition, as a tribute. “We will display posters and working stills from his films, followed by a seminar and panel discussion featuring noted cinematographers and directors who worked with him. After that, there will be a screening of Moksh — Salvation (2001) that he directed. The film’s actors, Arjun Rampal and Manisha Koirala, will also be present,” says Ghai. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) has made the words ‘Jai ho’ popular worldwide. “That was Ashok’s trademark and still ring in my ears. Jai ho Ashok Mehta!,” says Ghai.
‘I’ll be starting a musical thriller in October’ .It has been four years since Black and White and Yuvvraaj (both in 2008). Subhash Ghai is now ready to return to direction. “You can expect an announcement in early September, and the film will go on the floors on October 24. It’s a musical thriller, and will appeal to today’s generation. I’m in Bengaluru right now finalising the details,” says Ghai.Buzz is that it’s going to star current superstar Salman Khan. “Salman and I are committed to do a film together, but we’ll start only when my script is 100 per cent perfect, and when he is free of his pending commitments,” says Ghai.
Will his new film bring back the trio of Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Madhuri Dixit? He says, “Anything can happen. For now, you have to wait and watch.”