‘I was unhappy with the second half of Tum Mile’
Yes, I was unhappy with the second half of Tum Mile when I saw the first master print, says Mahesh Bhatt. He tells Kunal Deshmukh to edit out 10 minutes of Tum Mile, director says he had a point.india Updated: Nov 12, 2009 21:08 IST
Yes, I was unhappy with the second half of Tum Mile when I saw the first master print. I later pointed out to Kunal (director Kunal Deshmukh) that the storm outside is only a trigger for the storm that rages in the hearts of the estranged lovers and sets up an accidental meeting for them that fans the dying embers of the relationship. Just as Titanic was essentially a love story and not a film about a catastrophe, Tum Mile too is not a disaster movie,” says Mahesh Bhatt, who as ‘creative head’ of Vishesh Films, then insisted that 10 minutes of footage that included a chunk of flood sequences, be edited out.
Not surprisingly, the suggestion didn’t go down well with Deshmukh who had spent long days recreating Mumbai’s 26/7 deluge. He yielded reluctantly to Bhatt’s superior wisdom that came from years of experience. He, however, says that when he saw the film again with the cuts suggested, he had to admit that Bhatt “had a point”.
His mentor asserts that the effect was “miraculous” and points out that snipping out 10 minutes from the two-hour-20-minutes mixed print has trimmed the film down to an acceptable length that will not jeopardise show timing. Bhatt argues that sometimes it becomes imperative for the director to “kill his darling” to safeguard the health of his film. And if he has lost his objectivity and become myopic, someone else needs to nudge him gently but firmly towards his core strength.
“In Hollywood there is a clause in the contract that clearly states that the final editing rights are with the producer and the studio. With corporates entering show business, this system could come to India too. But I’m glad that even without it, we could handle the situation gracefully,” says Bhatt.
This is not the first time that he has had to “step in”. Even though he would be loathe to be dubbed a “ghost director” or a “remote control director”, Bhatt admits to “overseeing” things during Jism, Ghulam, Murder, Gangster, Woh Lamhe, Jannat and more recently Jashn. “For Ghulam I suggested drastic editing changes. During Tumsa Nahin Dekha, after director Anurag Bose fell ill, I took over the ship abandoned on high seas and steered it home. I’m a hands-on head,” Bhatt asserts.
Deshmukh agrees. He recalls that during Jannat a lot of questions were raised about his selection of actors, songs and even the final look of the film. “I understood the doubts given that it was my first film. I had to edit out some of the cricket sequences and focus on the love angle in Jannat too. I did it because I respect the experience Bhattsaab brings to the table. But at the same time I know how to fight for things I believe in. He wanted me to change the title to Toofan or Aandhi but I was adamant on Tum Mile because it’s not a film about a storm but about two lovers. That’s the reason I agreed to snip out the flood sequences too,” reasons Deshmukh.
Ranjit Kapur though refused to cave in to pressure. Way back in 1984, he was to direct a romantic thriller for which Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri had been signed. “But there were too many demands from the producer and the film never got off the ground,” he sighs.
There were other offers subsequently but once again they came with high-handed diktats. Kapur finally debuted as a director this year, at the age of 61, with Chintuji, starring a 50-plus Rishi Kapoor.
Amol Palekar went to narrate a folk tale, Duvidha, to Shah Rukh Khan and was ecstatic when the superstar not only agreed to act in the film but also produce it. And that was supposedly the beginning of Palekar’s problems with Paheli as Khan tried to make the arty project more commercial.
When quizzed on the subject, however. the director insisted that Khan only did what was expected of him as a producer. “But,” he was quoted as saying, “when 100 odd people, each with their own background, own language and own experiences, are working together on a film, differences are bound to be there. There were differences but they were creative and constructive.” This film went to the Oscars.
Mahesh Bhatt offers an overview on the argument: “I believe that cinema is the director’s vision and a producer can only help him articulate that vision better. I don’t want any of these kids to become my clones. One Mahesh Bhatt is bad enough.”