All those who have seen her act, would vouch for her on screen self assurance. And all those who have seen her speak nineteen to the dozen, mostly on the small screen, either taking up an issue on a news channel or speaking her mind fearlessly, would certify what stern stuff Pooja Bhatt is made of.
Articulate, confident and argumentative, she could hold forth a discussion on any issue without blinking an eyelid. Not blabbering away (like most actresses her age) but using her well-read mind grasp problems head on.
Now some 40 films later, (out of which she has directed three – besides the newly released
, there were
Holiday & Paap
and produced nine others) the firebrand daughter of an equally voluble Mahesh Bhatt, confesses she "has left my past behind and moved on."
She is mighty pleased with her third directorial venture
, which released last week. We caught up with her just when the first three days' initial figures were just dropping in. And she seemed mighty pleased about it.
Dhokha seems to be in the same league as your dad's earlier
was controversial for its theme about the Indian muslim. In my film, there is no justification offered.I cannot match up to my father anyway. It would be too presumptuous.
Is there any message in the film?
I don't want to force down a message people's throats and claim to be a great one at understanding issues. I have just tried to show that the face of terror has changed from the typical mulla to that of Haneef's (in Bangalore recently), an educated Indian muslim. Now isn't that both sad and strange?
How much do you identify with such acts of violence and terror?
Completely and entirely. As someone who is constantly exposed to such news stories round the year, I cannot be merely looking at them from a distance. I pick up everyday's paper and this is what I read. I switch on television, and this is what hits you the most. It's staring at us from all corners.
But it must be more with the intention of looking for grist to your scripting mill?
No, on the contrary. I was born to a half Hindu, half Muslim father and a Christian mother. My paternal grandmother (who was a muslim herself) made it a point to take me to a church, a temple and a mosque by turns every week to get me exposed to all faiths. I am glad I have a more balanced view as compared to many others.
Many critics feel that the storyline is biased.
I don't think so. The story is very much today's and is based on factual details. The story was written by my father. It is the end product of a deeply researched subject after he personally went to several states and noted down the traumatic account of the lives of the local people. As I said earlier, it's only another look at the face of terror which has drastically altered.
How relevant is the theme to you as a filmmaker? It isn't typically off-mainstream.
I think over the years, I have started to understand and know exactly what the audience demand. This film in particular had to have a slightly off mainstream format. One would notice that the songs are there and blend beautifully into the narrative but there are no romantic songs.
Do you personally empathize with the problem?
I think I am much wiser after having produced and directed films. There isn't any attempt to sound pompous or great about my achievements. Of course my film's subjects have to be driven by commerce. I do empathize with the problem and hence it comes straight from the heart. Not just head.
Do you think that Bollywood films reach out to all those who matter?
When my father wrote the original screenplay, he mentioned 80 people killed in a bomb blast. I changed it to 20, thinking that the figure 80 would be too large a number. But look at life around us, every other day there are suicide bombers, blasts
Any other particular message that you want to communicate?
Yes. That we need to and have to coexist. At the end of it, there is no justification, particularly for anything wrong.
The film was in competition with two remakes - RGV's
Victoria no 203.
Victoria No 203
is unheard of so far. Personally
to me is Gabbar and Gabbar was Amjad uncle. I can't think of anyone else in that role.
You seem to have drifted apart from your coterie of friends in Mumbai.
Post marriage life has taken a different turn for sure. Anyway, I was never the party animal that most actresses my age have been. But I am not cut off. I am in touch with many of my earlier group. But at the age of 26, I had my own production company. Which female actor my age could boast of something even remotely similar?