The on-the-go director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, not too social, yet quite a busy bee.. in conversation with Hiren Kotwani
Though Rang De Basanti gave him a great high, he’s not flaunting it. One of the most sought after filmmakers, he’s piled up with loads of paperwork in his plush Bandra office.
The cast of Delhi 6 is yet to materialize.. he has many-a-project up his alley. Not getting bogged by uncalled for media hype about his Oscar feat, he’s back in the city breathing easy while I throw a volley of questions at him:
Rang De Basanti was to re-release on Republic Day. What happened?
I wanted to do that. Since Salaame-Ishq was also releasing then, there was a problem getting the right theatres. But, it’ll be re-released soon.
What about the documentary you were planning on it?
It’s on. My wife Bharathi is making it completely from her perspective.
Where do you think Rang De Basanti missed the bus?
I’ll have to retrospect more. We had a great time during our promotional exercise. The film was appreciated, many saw it and recommended it to many others. But at the end of the day its only five films that make it.
The language of the film is different. Our method of story telling is different from theirs. Babel might win the Oscars, but that does not make The Departed any less a great film. Ditto Rang De..
They chose Water, because it’s closer to their perception of Indian cinema. With two Indian films, there might have been some confusion in their minds.
Do you feel that you didn’t lobby well?
I don’t know what lobbying is. There’s a pattern you’ve to follow. Many films that made it to the top slot, were released recently. As a result their marketing and promotion was in full swing.
The expenditure on publicity is high in the US. We didn’t leave a stone unturned and played every trick in the book. Probably we should’ve released the film in the US now. But since Rang De Basanti released in India in January 2006 that option is ruled out. It didn’t make sense either. Oscars are essentially a western platform.
Does it have anything to do with the film’s concept being derived from Jesus Of Montreal?
No, I’ve not seen Jesus of Montreal. I’ve read about the comparisons though, but I don’t know where they come from. I cant get inspired by a film without watching it.
You seem to be having a tough time finalizing the cast for Delhi 6 after Abhishek Bachchan opted out?
It’s media hype. I have no clue about it. Have you heard anything from me or any of the actors? Neither of us have confirmed anything to the press. The rest is fluff.
Why did Abhishek Bachchan opted out of Delhi 6?
I couldn’t get the dates I wanted. He had other commitments. What can I say then?
Why don’t you approach Aamir Khan?
When you see the film, you’ll know why Aamir doesn’t fit in.. the character doesn’t suit him. I’ll have my cast in place by April.
Would you agree that the fate of a film depends on its actors?
I hope so, they’re our posterboys. A film is made by teamwork. No filmmaker depends on a certain actor. You write a story and shortlist options for the cast. That’s how it was for Rang De Basanti. The director must know his job and do justice to it. No actor or director can be bigger than the film.
Didn’t you have a tough time casting for Rang De..?
Casting is tough. Name me a film which hasn’t gone through a casting hassle. Whether it’s Apocalypse Now or A Beautiful Mind, they’ve all gone through it ..and they’re great films. It’s a part of the filmmaking process. You can’t avoid it.
Has the industry’s attitude changed?
I’ve never socialized with the industry’s who’s who. I’m not a social person that way You’ll never see me at parties. So I can’t comment on that. My rapport and comfort level hasn’t changed with the few that I know well. I usually get along well with everyone.
Which is your next film Paanch Kaurav or Delhi 6?
Right now, it looks like Delhi 6. I may end up doing Paanch Kaurav first. I’m working on the cast for both together. I’ll start whichever cast is finalized first. But please, don’t ask me names now.
Are you considering Abhishek Bachchan for Paanch Kaurav?
Are you obsessed with Abhishek? Stop it please.