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'SRK is brilliant, but I'm unable to cast him'

He is full of admiration for Shah Rukh Khan and his on-screen charisma, but veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal rues that he doesn't have a subject to cast the superstar.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2009 20:40 IST

He is full of admiration for Shah Rukh Khan and his on-screen charisma, but veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal rues that he doesn't have a subject to cast the superstar.

"Shah Rukh is a truly brilliant actor. When he comes on the screen, you hardly look anywhere else but at him - he is that kind of an actor," Benegal told IANS over telephone from Mumbai.

Asked if he would like to cast the King Khan in any of his films, a disappointed Benegal said: "How can I cast him? I don't have a subject that might even interest him."

After the successful comedy Welcome To Sajjanpur, which featured Shreyas Talpade and Amrita Rao, the director is set to make a political satire, but refused to divulge any details.

"I am very superstitious, so I won't talk much about the story right now. But I'll surely make a political satire before starting my other films and it would also be a comedy," Benegal said.

The veteran director will wield the megaphone for projects like Chamki Chameli, a film based on the novella Carmen by French writer Prosper Mérimée, and an epic on Lord Buddha titled Gautam Buddha.

"I also plan to make a documentary on the Indian spy princess Noor Inayat Khan. Nothing has been decided yet, but it is in the pipeline," said Benegal, a Dada Saheb Phalke award winner.

He revealed that he had to defer his plans for a few big-budget films due to the economic downturn.

"Some of my films have got pushed back by a few months because of the ongoing recession. These are very big budget films, and that kind of money is not easily accessible right now. We are just waiting for things to settle down," he said.

Starting from art house movies to successfully going mainstream, the veteran insists that the "parallel and commercial" classification in cinema no longer exists.

"There is a kind of stamp that has been put that tries to draw distinction in cinema as parallel or commercial. But now these lines have faded out and have become very blurry. In fact, films being made today that could have been earlier called parallel are being played in multiplexes commercially," Benegal said.

"For example, films like A Wednesday and Rang De Basanti ... if these movies would have been made earlier would have been called parallel cinema vis-à-vis their wide commercial acceptance now," he added.

Known for giving new dimensions to parallel cinema with movies like Manthan, Ankur, Nishant and Junoon, Benegal ventured into mainstream Bollywood for the first time in 2001 with Zubeidaa.

The film starred one of the then top actresses Karisma Kapoor and yesteryears' top actress Rekha.

Benegal's recent Welcome to Sajjanpur, a satirical comedy, too managed to impress audiences.

Asked about the wide variety of subjects he chose for his films, the 74-year-old said: "I pick my subjects as to what I feel and like according to my interests and concern. I deal with the social problems that confront us. It makes me gravitate to what I want to work on."

Benegal, in his earlier works, has cast the late Smita Patil in quite a few movies like Nishant, Charandas Chor, Bhumika and Manthan.

Asked if he considered any of the current actresses at par with her, Benegal said: "Every generation has its own actors and they have different qualities. We can't generalise actors and compare them with those from earlier films. They have their own strong and weak traits."

First Published: Jan 05, 2009 17:38 IST