The audience has snubbed Vikram Bhatt's recent release Life Mein Kabhie Kabhie and the response has puzzled the director - he calls it his most original film to date.
"In Life Mein Kabhi Kabhie you could say I bit more than I could chew. Rather, I shot more than I could show. I had to trim the film down to two hours and 20 minutes. Since each of the five protagonists has his or her own story to tell, it was tough deciding what to take out," Bhatt, who plans to take a long holiday from filmmaking, told IANS.
He decided to do away with a lot of important scenes.
"Every one of the protagonists lost vital scenes. We had to sacrifice Sammir Dattani's love angle. Sammir was the only hero in the film without a romantic angle. Since he played a brooder, fighting his demons within, I wanted him to come across as a loner.
"In any case, heroes don't have to have romantic leads any more. That kind of conventional coupling is dead now! Life Mein.. projected a new age and a new thought. It's my most contemporary film to date. I'm still baffled about why it didn't get an audience."
He's all praise for the cast, which included Aftab Shivdasani, Dino Morea, Nauheed Cyrusi and Anjori Alagh.
"It was a tightly-budgeted 45-day schedule and they all got into their roles immediately. Also, we didn't shoot in sequence. And yet they got into the character comfortably."
Every protagonist has a bit of Bhatt in him or her.
"I guess, after Ankahee all my cinema has become autobiographical. I've gone through some of what all my protagonists in Life Mein... go through. At 38, I see the need to look back at life and also revise my attitude to cinema.
"See, despite all the technical advancement even today it's a good story that sells. And that's where Life Mein... scores. Some of my recent films fell short in the plot department. Life Mein... was my most original work ever. Not a moment is derivative.
"I used to say no art is ever original. In Life Mein... I've completely disproved my own myth. In the film I can proudly say there was nothing that the audience has seen before. And yet they didn't turn up to see the film. It's very confusing for a film-maker."
Bhatt shot the entire film at one stretch.
"That's the only way to make a film now. If a film with as big a cast as Life Mein... stretches on, the heroes could grow their hair or beards or just lose interest. What do you do? After Ankahee this was my first film to be completed at a stretch.
What about the sequel to Raaz that Mahesh Bhatt has been talking about?
"I'm certainly not doing it," asserted Bhatt.
"Raaz just happened. You can't replicate the formula. In Raaz we didn't create a franchise like Munnabhai or Dhoom. A sequel to Raaz is not possible."