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I’d rather be ahead of time than be outdated: Filmmaker Meghna Gulzar

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New Delhi: In 2002, when experimental cinema was not as welcome as it is today, Meghna Gulzar dared to be different with “Filhaal…”, a film on surrogacy. The filmmaker is only glad she is “ahead of time” with her creativity.

Photo credit: fastnewsrelease.com
Photo credit: fastnewsrelease.com

” ‘Filhaal…’, even though it was appreciated, didn’t do very well commercially. Back then, people had said, and even continue to say, that had ‘Filhaal…’ been released now, it would have made more sense.

“Yes, it was ahead of its time. But I am fine with that. I would rather be that than be outdated,” Meghna, the daughter of celebrated writer Gulzar and veteran actress Rakhee, told IANS in an interview.

It is streaks of her father’s filmography as a director — works like “Koshish”, which was on a deaf-and-mute couple; “Achanak” inspired by the crime of passion that was the K.M. Nanavati case; and “Libaas”, a film on extra-marital affairs which remains unreleased in India till date — that find reflection in the works of Meghna. She says her basic “attempt is always to do something relevant and contemporary”.

“Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t work…but that is what creativity is about,” added the director, who admits that “much better kind of films are being made today, making it a great time for Indian cinema”.

On the relevance of films, Meghna’s forthcoming film “Talvar” — a retelling of three investigation theories behind the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj murder case — comes at an apt time when the Sheena Bora murder case has been keeping people at the edge of their seats.

She couldn’t agree more, and averred that “cinema has been reflecting society since before”, and it continues to be so.

“When farmers’ plight was an issue, when labourers had problems, we had ‘Do Bigha Zameen’…when the industrial and middle workers’ problems were an issue, we had films and characters based on that. Right now we are making films on parents killing children because that is what is happening in society,” said the 41-year-old, who is a mother herself.

Nevertheless, she pointed out: “I am not saying everyone is conscientious… some maybe climbing the bandwagon for the controversy or the scandal. But having said that, I don’t think it’s like that across the board.”

Citing relevant examples to back her point, Meghna, who assisted her writer-filmmaker father for movies like “Maachis” and “Hu Tu Tu”, said: “When ‘Bandit Queen’ was made, it was not because of the scandal, it was because the maker felt the story needed to be told. When ‘Maachis’ and ‘Border’ were made, these were stories that needed to be told.

“It’s not the intent of making films on real events which is scandalous, it is when the incident itself is scandalous that the film becomes scandalous.”

As far as “Talvar” is concerned, it delves on the sensational killing of 14-year-old Aarushi and her family’s 45-year-old servant Hemraj Banjade — a case in which Aarushi’s parents were convicted in November 2013 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The film, starring powerhouse performers such as Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Konkona Sen Sharma, opened to a rousing response at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this month — setting the expectations high among Indian audiences, who will be able to watch it on screens on October 2.

Radhika Bhirani, IANS

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Raazi Actress Alia Speaks Out About Her Acting and Preferences

I prefer going into my character without polishing her flaws and imperfections. I don't want to be this shining diamond on-screen. I like to show the vulnerable, unpolished side of my character.

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Alia Bhatt
Varun, Alia elated to win Favourite Actors at Kids Choice Awards. Wikimedia Commons

Before her triumphant performance in Meghna Gulzar’s “Raazi” is out for all to see, Alia Bhatt says she prefers to show the vulnerable and unpolished side of the characters she essays rather than shining like a perfect diamond on the big screen.

In an interview, Alia spoke about “Raazi”, her film journey and what’s on the plate next.

Excerpts:

  1. You had a private screening of “Raazi”. What were the responses like?

I can’t be objective about my own work. This film is different from my others in that it has certain suspense element. All of us associated with the film knew what the surprise element was. So I was looking at the responses of my guests to see how they reacted to the surprise element. And it was all very heartening, very encouraging.

  1. Does people’s approval matter to you?

Of course it does. There are some people in my life whose opinion is really valuable to me. That apart, I make all my decisions myself. The scripts I read and decide to do are chosen by me. Of course, I sound off the scripts to some people close to me. But for better or worse, the final decision to do or not do a film is mine.

  1. You got to work with your mother (actress Soni Razdan) for the first time. What was that like?
  2. It was as though she had come visiting me on the sets and decided to join me in front of the camera. We were very professional in front of the camera. And like any mother and daughter when it was off. Sadly, it was mostly work work work. We hardly got any time to hang around together.
  3. “Raazi” is your first political film. And you play a selfless woman ready to die for her country. Do such people really exist anymore?

I am sure they do. That’s how civilisation moves forward. It is true that self-preservation is the first instinct of every human being. Would anyone put the country before one’s own life the way Sehmat does in “Raazi”? Yes, of course! What about the jawaans who put their lives in danger to protect the country? So yeah, I think it isn’t impossible to have that level of selflessness even in today’s day and age, provided there is the right impetus to look beyond yourself. And Sehmat finds that impetus.

  1. I believe “Raazi” required more preparation than all your other roles so far?
  2. I’d agree with that, yes. The closest I came to preparing this much was when I did “Udta Punjab”. For “Raazi”, I set aside a month before shooting. I cleaned up my Urdu language. I learnt how to drive a jonga (a jeep used by the Indian Army). I learnt some self-defence moves plus some techniques that spies have to learn before they are on their job. It was a lot of hard work and fun. But I think no amount of preparation can really prepare you for that moment when you finally face the camera.
  3. Do you prefer going into a character unrehearsed?

I prefer going into my character without polishing her flaws and imperfections. I don’t want to be this shining diamond on-screen. I like to show the vulnerable, unpolished side of my character.

  1. Speaking of brushing up your Urdu, was that hard for you to do?
  2. It was a new way of working. Normally we don’t pay that much attention to the way we speak our lines. But let me tell you, Ranveer Singh, my co-star in my next release ‘Gully Boys’, is very much into linguistic fine-tuning. He actually works on the voice, the tone, the way the dialogues are spoken for his characters. I like that.
  3. You have done some really entertaining ads with Ranveer Singh?
  4. Yeah, I enjoyed doing those with him. Even in those ads you can see how much he works on his voice and accent. But shooting ‘Gully Boys’ with Ranveer is a different experience altogether. Zoya Akhtar (the director), Ranveer and I had loads of fun.
  5. Do you also play a rap singer in ‘Gully Boys’ like Ranveer does. Are you a Muslim character again?
In an interview, Alia spoke about "Raazi", her film journey and what's on the plate next.
Alia Bhatt flaunting the gorgeous look. wikimedia commons
  1. No I am not a musician in ‘Gully Boys’. As for the way I look, I leave it to Zoya to explain all that when they are ready.
  2. Zoya would be your third female director, fourth if we count “Sangharsh” which you did as a child with Tanuja Chandra. How different is working with Gauri Shinde, Meghna Gulzar and Zoya as compared with your other directors?

No different at all. There is absolutely no difference between working with male and female directors. I don’t think we should evaluate talent according to the individual’s gender. If you are referring to women as more sensitive directors, then let me remind you, my father Mahesh Bhatt made some very sensitive films like “Arth”, “Saaransh” and “Zakhm”. So I won’t go with a gender division of directorial abilities.

Also Read: Hina Khan Talks About Her Addiction

  1. Six years as a leading lady. How do you look back at the frenetic rush of projects and the stardom that you’ve obtained? Are you exhausted? Do you need a break?
  2. Not at all. In fact, I am more enthused now than ever before. I love that rush of adrenaline that I feel when I start a film. I also love promoting my films.
  3. Would you miss the limelight when you are no longer in it?
  4. Of course I know a day would come when it won’t be there anymore. It is therefore important to not take it too seriously, to enjoy it while it lasts. I am having a blast.
  5. Have you signed anything new?

Actually, I have. But I leave the announcement to the producers. At the moment I have ‘Gully Boys’, which is complete. Now one year would be taken up with ‘Bramhastra’ and ‘Kalank’, both Karan Johar’s productions which is like home to me. (BollywoodCountry)