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'If you don't like it, walk out'

india Updated: Aug 09, 2006 14:59 IST
Highlight Story

Critics have lambasted director Vishal Bhardwaj for excessive use of cuss-words in Omkara, but the director is unruffled by the criticism and says he didn't make it "keeping audience sensitivities in mind".

"The language wasn't dictated by who'll be shocked and who'll not. The characters spoke as they should. I've never made a film keeping audiences' sensitivities in mind. And if audiences are so offended by the language, how come the film is doing so well everywhere?" the Maqbool" director asked.

However, Bhardwaj is thankful to the censor board, which exercised its democratic right and allowed him to release Omkara with the expletives.

 

 The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare's play Othello and stars Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Konkona SenSharma, Bipasha Basu and Viveik Oberoi

"They very kindly gave me the choice of either erasing the expletives and giving me a 'U' certificate or retaining the expletives with an 'A' certificate. I chose the latter option because I knew in any case that the film isn't suitable for kids, with or without expletives."

The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare's play Othello and stars Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Konkona SenSharma, Bipasha Basu and Viveik Oberoi.

Excerpts:

Omkara isn't entirely Shakespeare. He'd have sued you for the ending.

I insist it is my version of Othello. I changed a lot of things from Macbeth in my Maqbool and those changes were appreciated all over the world. So, I was more confident this time about taking liberties with Othello. I always felt Amelia should kill Iago. That's why Konkona kills Saif. Let the purists frown.

For those within the film industry who are wishing and praying for my film's downfall, I've no consolation to offer. This is my interpretation of Shakespeare. If you don't like it, please walk out.

The graphic Hindustani expletives have embarrassed and put off a lot of people, specially women and children.

I don't see why. It's the characters mouthing those words, not me. I'm not the censor chief. The censors understood my intentions as an artist. My characters don't use forbidden words to play to the galleries. I'm trying to create a reality.

The abuses are done in a cheerful not in a malicious way. The censor board has exercised its democratic right by allowing the cuss-words. They very kindly gave me the choice of either erasing the expletives and giving me a 'U' certificate or retaining the expletives with 'A' certificate.

I chose the latter option because I knew in any case that the film isn't suitable for kids, with or without expletives. Sidhartha of Rang De Basanti called to tell me kids in the theatre while watching it were in splits at the expletives. I don't know how they got in.

And as for women, I think men in the audience feel self-conscious in women's presence. Women are quite comfortable watching the expletives in groups of their own. In any case, the language wasn't dictated by who'll be shocked and who'll not. The characters spoke as they should. I've never made a film keeping audiences' sensitivities in mind.

And if audiences are so offended by the language how come the film is doing so well everywhere? I'm going to my hometown Meerut right now. It's a sensational hit there.

Wouldn't there be problems when the film is screened on TV?

For television we have a different censor's cut. We have already dubbed Saif's expletives with less offensive words. We had them dubbed before Saif left the country... in case the censors insisted on changing the original words. Hats off to the liberal policies of the censors.

Like Prakash Jha, who makes film about Bihar but shoots in Maharashtra, why have you located Omkara in Uttar Pradesh and shot in Maharashtra?

It'd have been impossible to control the crowds in Uttar Pradesh. If I had taken Ajay Devgan and Kareena to these places for full shooting there would have been riots out there. But I did shoot partially in UP towns like Lucknow.

Stars haven't been used as stars in Omkara.

And that's exactly how I wanted them to be. There are, of course, the spoilsports who are bitching about Saif's wacko look. But most people are delighted to see these huge stars, icons, like never before. And those who don't want to see their favourite stars as anything but themselves they're welcome to wait for the next Ajay, Saif or Kareena starrer. It's my democratic right to make the film I want. It's up to the audiences to decide whether they want to see my film or not.

Konkona has all the scene-stealing lines. In comparison Kareena is very subdued.

Kareena is a rare combination of talent and beauty. Her expressions towards the end of the film or when Konkona asks her if Ajay has hit her are extraordinary. Konkona has the warmer role. If you take away Kareena's emotional and vulnerable performance, Omkara wouldn't have worked.

A lot of people think Kareena is the best, in spite of the author-backed role going to Saif.

Why the item songs?

Why not? It doesn't stop the story. Bipasha's character was created to bring in that massy element. In the interiors of Uttar Prtadesh 'nautanki' dancers dance exactly like Bipasha. I wanted to reach the masses. I've to serve them the right appetisers to get them to appreciate the meal. The hard-liners can remain as hard as they like.

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