Sanjay Gupta, an outsider who made his mark in Bollywood with films like Kaante and Zinda, says he is trying to get his due with Dus Kahaniyaan (DK).
Terrible things happened while you filmed Dus Kahaniyaan (DK). Your best buddy Sanjay Dutt went back to jail....
It was a time of great personal trauma, but it didn't affect me professionally. He features in only one of the stories but the angst of Sanju's predicament is prevalent in DK in the choice of stories, especially in the story featuring Sanju and Suniel Shetty.
Personally, it was traumatic. There was no partying, no Diwali. Even now when he's out, the case is still hovering over his head. Sanju is not a free man. It has taken 14 years for the realisation to dawn that Sanju is no terrorist. Will it take him another 14 years to absolve himself of the rest of the charges? Even now any foreign country he lands in treats him like a criminal. The same happens with Fardeen and Salman. Anyway, I'm happy to have him out.<b1>
There has been a lot of talk about a rift between the two of you.
Funnily, even now when Sanju is not on the board of directors for my company White Feather Films, people still haven't stopped insinuating things. It's a handful of monkeys creating trouble between us.
Dus Kahaniyaan looks like your most uncharacteristic work?
This time I'm fighting for my dignity. DK isn't about success. It's about my production house finally getting its due. Whether it's my Musafir or Zinda or now DK, I've always been pushing the envelope. Not being cocky. But whether it's my first film Aatish or my last Shootout At Lokhandwala, I've never had delivery pangs. Each time my film went into post-production, another film went into production.
Right now I'm only thinking of DK. It's giving me anxiety pangs. If it works it will open floodgates for filmmakers to do what they want to. At the moment, we're made to tow the distributor's line. My distributors Sunil and Kishore Lulla are going all out. These guys mean business. They are investing Rs.350 million in Sujoy Ghosh's Alladin although he had Home Delivery behind him.
You sound persecuted.<b2>
I feel that way. Just because I don't come from a filmy background I'm given a raw deal. I'm just content making my films. I don't need to prove myself as an arthouse filmmaker. And yet I've chosen to go in that direction. At a time when everyone is ripping off films, I'm still being called a 'DVD director'! Every story in DK is original. The other day I met people from an awards jury who told me they couldn't give my Zinda any awards because it was a remake of a Korean film. What are some of the recent Yash Raj Films?
You sound bitter.
I've every right to be. I've been attacked for no reason. All I do is make my films. And I'm having a blast. If today I'm called successful, my success lies in being able to make offbeat films like Pankh, Great Indian Butterfly and Dus Kahaniyaan.
But DK is being slotted very commercially?
The format is experimental, the mounting is not. That's because every story has been shot at fantastic budgets. All the stars have been paid handsomely to do their job.
The episodic format hasn't worked so far in this country.
You may be right. But all the episodic films so far are either interlinked or belong to the horror-romantic genre. My stories are a slice of life. And when one of them ends, it ends. Period. You don't go back to it. And that's the beauty of the format. In the first-half the stories feature younger stars. The second-half features stalwarts like Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Nana Patekar.
Which is your favourite story in DK?
Gubbare, by far. In the story my dream has come true. I got to bring to screen words written by my idol Gulzar saab. And then to get Nana to perform it, wow. It's also very personal because it talks about how much a man loves his wife. I miss my wife all the time.
I've directed Gubbare, Zaahir (Manoj Bajpai-Diya Mirza), Strangers In The Night (Mahesh Manjrekar-Neha Dhupia), Matrimony and half of Rise & Fall. And what a marvellous film Gulzar saab's daughter Meghna has made in Puranmashi.
I'm on tenterhooks. We're damn proud of what we've done. It's shaped up superbly. Two days before release one of my director Jasmeet Dhodi went back to Yash Raj studio to remix the film. I gave my directors full freedom.