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'Tashan is not for the lily-livered'

Tashan might have received flak from the critics, but director Vijay Krishna is pleased with the film and says he crafted it for small-town audiences.

entertainment Updated: May 01, 2008 11:12 IST

The just released action multi-starrer Tashan has received unfavourable reviews, but debutant director Vijay Krishna Acharya is pleased with the film and says he crafted it especially for audiences in the hinterland.

Excerpts from an interview:

Why did Kareena Kapoor's character require that sculpted physique?
To be totally honest, it was a challenge that Kareena took on herself. She probably took up the challenge of doing a Kate Moss. When I told her about the role, I informed her there was a lot of action. A woman doing crackerjack action is a big turn-on. Kareena played someone who can have men for breakfast. Her look was courtesy the designer Akki Nirula. The look I had in mind for Kareena was Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

Tashan has comic book violence.
Yeah, I didn't want the killings to be icky. But my seven-year-old daughter was traumatised when she saw Tashan. I think she's more into Walt Disney. Her father is not.

Have you been consciously staying away from the media?
I was. I didn't want to be a conscious part of the promotional campaign and say all those generic things.

Because of your reticence people didn't know what Tashan was about?
It's early days to really know how the film will do. We didn't want it to come on a Friday and be out in a week. We wanted to underplay the film as much as possible. We just showed the songs in the promos and let the audience come and watch and get sucked in. I hoped Tashan would be a clutter-breaker. I saw the film at Chandan on Friday. I was vindicated by the audience reaction.

The formula is here more tampered than pampered?
I couldn't do anything strait-jacketed. Good or bad, I did what I know best. Doing Tashan I learnt a lot about myself. I'm a huge film buff. If it wasn't for Martin Scorcese, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, I wouldn't be here. I remember cycling down in my hometown Kanpur twice in two days for eight kilometres to see Ardh Satya.

I loved its rawness at a time when everyone was doing potboilers. So unless you try to break the mould, you'd never know. In Tashan, my effort was to try to do mainstream the way I'd like to see it, to convey the full-bloodedness of the masala film. Very frankly my action in Tashan was a little orgiastic. I kept asking Adi (Aditya Chopra) if we were pushing the envelope too far. He kept assuring me I was doing the right thing.

Why do you think critics are looking for logic in the film?
Sometimes the makebelief of the mainstream seems a little plastic to me. What happens to my characters in Tashan is extraordinary. But I wanted them to be part of a believable world. Tashan is not for the lily-livered.

Where did all the violence come from?

I think it is part of all of us. We live in violent times. I've lived in Kanpur and Delhi. North India used to be more aggressive. No more so. Today, when I see all the factional violence in Mumbai, I'm aghast. It wasn't so 10 years ago.

Akshay Kumar got the point better than the other actors in Tashan?
He hasn't had the time to see the film yet. He understands the small town mentality. I made the film for the ticket-paying audience at the grassroots. That community feeling, when an audience sits down to watch a film together, is unparalleled. My characters are neither noble nor virtuous. But there was a core of innocence to them.

As a first time director, were you intimidated by the awesome cast in Tashan?
Not really. My antecedents - done theatre in college in Delhi, had assisted Kundan Shah for two years, etc. - bolstered my self-confidence. Television where I directed Just Mohabbat and Jassi Jaissi... Koi Nahin made me economically sound. Then I wrote Dhoom, Dhoom 2 and Guru. Spending time on Mani Rathnam's sets made me confident about stars.

Has the absence of Tashan from multiplexes made a difference?
I'm not too sure of what the intricacies of the situation are. But by a happy coincidence when we saw the final print of Tashan I had commented it would be perfect for single theatres. But I'm sure it'll open in multiplexes soon.

What next?
I'm going to be working with Mani sir again. I wrote the dialogues in Guru for Mani sir. I haven't had this kind of connectivity with anybody. I couldn't have made Tashan if I hadn't been on board with Guru. I also love the works of Quentin Tarantino, but I'm a bigger fan of Woody Allen and Patrice Leconte. I've a couple of ideas for what I want to direct next.