“Not very well,” is how cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Anil Mehta responds when we ask him, “How are you?” A bit tense, it seems, in anticipation of the response to his debut vehicle as a director,
, which also happens to be the comeback film of Madhuri Dixit. Mehta spoke to HT City.
Madhuri fans are grateful to you...
I am also grateful to her that she agreed to work in a film where I was going to be the director. I can’t explain why she agreed to do it and not do a film with a more established person.
You have never worked with her as a cinematographer…
I haven’t. I didn’t get an opportunity. So, it was long-standing dream coming true.
What’s so special about Madhuri?
For me, she is iconic. I have a short list of people whom I consider personifying an era like Madhubala and Madhuri Dixit.
Your favourite Madhuri film…
Whenever I see her movies I enjoy them a lot and that includes
. The way she carries herself is fascinating.
How did she come across as an individual?
She is a diva but comes across as a very normal person. Her attitude towards work is very professional, whether she is discussing the script or giving a shot. She gave 100 per cent on the sets and even carried off a sequence when she was not feeling well.
As her comeback vehicle was the pressure immense?
No, there was no pressure. I had a script in my head and was trying to make the best of it. And she was there to ensure that we did the same thing together.
What is the film about?
It does not revolve around dance but around the central character Dia, played by Madhuri, who is a dancer. She is a choreographer and dance is her passion. But the songs and dances are more situational.
So, it’s not a musical…
I don’t know how you qualify a musical because the term comes from the West. It has a definitive connotation vis-à-vis the genre it represents. For Hindi films it is just one free-floating word. It loosely applies to pretty much everything that we do. I don’t know whether you can call this film a musical.
How was Madhuri with the new generation of actors?
We were one happy gang. It was a rare kind of a film unit where people came even if they had no work. They would just hang around. Normally you are fighting to go home. Madhuri had encouraging things to say to her co-actors.
There is tension in the air?
We released a 30-second teaser and I was at a multiplex. I was amazed to see people whistling and cheering, which means there has been a phenomenal response to her comeback. I hope the audience won’t be disappointed.
How has the transformation from a cinematographer to a director been?
It was tougher than I thought. I don’t have the qualities required to be a good director. It’s the invisible things that director needs to be sensitive to. So, in an abstract sort of way it was very trying.
Do you plan to direct again?