I believe in ghosts and also in karma: Vikram
Vikram Bhatt tells HT about the 10 most whispered-about commandments of show biz. He divides them into 10 categories or Ten Commandments.Updated: Sep 06, 2008, 19:45 IST
Vikram Bhatt on the 10 most whispered-about commandments of show biz...
I believe in ghosts and I believe in karma and I believe in life after death and even in life after life. Perhaps that’s why I love making films that dabble in the supernatural because I believe. However this is about a different kind of ghost. What is a ghost but the cursed soul refusing to leave this plane of existence? What is a ghost but a curse on a spirit? Ghosts are everywhere and they haunt us in different forms. There is the ghost of guilt, the ghost of lies, the ghost of regret, the ghost of lost loves, the ghosts of insults, the ghost of shattered dreams and yes, the ghosts that haunt Bollywood. I have divided them into 10 categories much like the Ten Commandments:
* Thou shalt not have any permanent friendships
Bobby Deol and I are childhood friends and yet we rarely speak to each other these days. He feels that being friends with me might mean that he might have to work with me. So that causes a strain. I would never ask him but then that is another matter. People who share dreams come together but when that does not come to fructification they go apart. That is the sad part here. Sanjay Gupta and Sanjay Dutt. Salman and Shah Rukh Khan, Dharmesh Darshan and Aamir Khan, the list is endless.
* Thou shalt have no permanent enemies
Anil Kapoor once told me that to make a film great you must even touch someone’s feet if you need to and so you can have no permanent enemies. Success can make the most disliked one become the loved one overnight. I read somewhere that Himesh Reshammiya sent Ram Gopal Varma a message saying, “Aag has been phoonked!” and they are friends again. You never know when you may need that someone whom you hate. It’s like the Samajwadi party and the Congress coming together.
* The film closest to your heart shall flop
It is sad but true much like various laws of Mr Murphy. I was assisting Mahesh Bhatt and he was listening to the songs of his film Kaash on the car stereo when I went to tell him that the shot was ready. He looked at me and told me that he would come when he had finished listening to the song. On his face I could see the pain of a beloved film not working. Years later I felt the pain when I made Ankahee and I knew what Raj Kapoor felt when Mera Naam Joker failed and what Guru Dutt might have felt when Kaagaz ke Phool did not do well. When the emotions are too personal they seem ordinary to the viewer, a ghost that will haunt the filmmaker forever.
* You shall crave an eternal place in the Sun
Someone once said that people who live lives of fame die twice once when their fame dies and once when they really die. My grandfather Vijay Bhatt was a film great. From Baiju Bawra to Himalay ki God Mein, he had a fabulous career but then it went away. In my growing years I saw him ache for the recognition of the Dadasaheb Phalke award which went to everyone but him. Anonymity is the greatest curse of the famous. I heard a film producer tell a yet to be star who was avoiding a phone call on his cell to answer the phone promptly because one day it will stop ringing.
* You will never become gold by touching gold
There are stars and then there are people who feed off the starlight. Amitabh Bachchan still is the star whilst so many who fed off him have disappeared. And almost all successful directors have made that one hit without stars to make themselves into the star. Subhash Ghai made Hero, Rakesh Roshan made Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, N Chandra made Ankush, Mahesh Bhatt made Arth, these filmmakers are stars because they realised that they had to become gold on their own, the rest is just reflected glory.
* You will be haunted by critics forever
No matter what any filmmaker says critics matter and they matter most to the filmmaker. A hundred people may love your film but you wonder why that one person did not like it. Rock On!! is a hit with rave reviews and they have the critics’ verdict printed on every half page advertisement in every daily and yet when Don was panned by the critics I remember an advertisement saying “Don ke critics ki sabse badi galti yeh hai ke woh Don ke critics hain.” The same filmmakers and yet when the reviews are bad, they say critics don’t matter. When the reviews are good, lines from them are printed on every poster.
* You will be as good as your last Friday
This is a horse race with the entire trade betting on a few horses, namely the actors and the directors. In this race you may have won a derby many times over but if you have lost the last one.. tch tch very bad. Manmohan Desai was the genius of commercial cinema and yet after so many successes no one forgave him his Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi. No one forgives Mukul Anand his Trimurti and no one forgives Subhash Ghai his Black and White. As for me, the less said the better.
* Thou shalt be a slave to your needs
No one and I repeat no one can be insulted without his or her permission and yet we give them that permission all the time because we need them. The producer will stand outside the vanity van of the star and the star will feel his stardom but he doesn’t realise that it is the producer’s need that makes him stand there, not his stardom. Govinda and Zayed Khan will never be on location on time. Yet the director and producer keep quiet.. they don’t have a choice. They are slaves to their need to make the film, to run their office, their homes. I remember Zayed coming on my set at 11 o’clock for an eight o’ clock shoot and that too in London and yet we all kept quiet.
* Thou shalt be outdated
Whatever you do, you will get older and whatever you do an entire generation will find you regressive. There is no anti-ageing cream for the rusting idea machinery. It will rust. The problem is that we become a victim of the formula we create. Sooraj Barjatya and Hum Saath Saath Hain was an example of that. I was an example of that when my thrillers did well and then when they started flopping. We have to take that break and look back at what we are doing. Sooraj did it successfully in Vivah and I hope I can reinvent myself with
* Thou shalt be known for the wrong reasons
My main lead of 1920 Rajneesh Duggal is really a very shy boy but also a very loyal-in-love kind of chap. So when I badgered my press agent to have more stuff on him in the press, I was told, “How many times to write that he is good looking and a good actor? Ask him to have an affair!” and that of course Rajneesh did not want to do.
People know me as the guy with grey hair who dated Sushmita and Ameesha and yet they think Raaz was my first film. Like a writer friend told me once, “Aap aaj kal bahut badnaam ho rahe hain, chalo achha hain, badnaami mein hi naam hain.”