Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Interview: Yash Chopra

'A good film only needs a good script'

Yash Chopra, who was in the city on Tuesday, spoke to Sandhya Iyer about his next film with Jaideep Sahni and how all’s well with Aja Nachle, contrary to media reports

In what can be described as a major face-saver for the 5th Asian Film Festival organisers, veteran director, Yash Chopra finally arrived in the city yesterday evening to receive the Zenith Asia Honour.
The filmmaker was expected earlier this month to be part of the inaugural function of the film festival, where director Madhur Bhandarkar was supposed to confer the honour upon him. However, due to some last minute issues, Chopra couldn’t make it. In a special event organised at NFAI, Kiran V Shantaram, Chairman, Asian Film Foundation, who also happens to be one of Chopra’s close friends, finally conferred the award upon him. The filmmaker expressed his close ties with the Shantaram family, who stood by him in his initial days of struggle in Mumbai.

“When I came here, I had no money, no godfather ---only my dreams, visions and love for cinema. At that point of time, I was all set to direct Daag, with Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Rakhee but all these artists were under a six-film ceiling and no studio could oblige me. But Anna (V Shantaram), who I consider one of the finest filmmakers the country has produced, opened his Raj Kamal Studios for me to shoot my film. Over the years, they lent me every possible support and made sure I got preference over anyone else. I will always be indebted to them, which is why I find it impossible to refuse Kiran for any function,” he said.
Today of course, the Chopras own one of Asia’s biggest film studios but according to Kiran Shantaram, the former still makes it a point to shoot at least a small portion of all his films at Raj Kamal Studios.


Yash Raj Films would have been in a bit of a spot this year had it not been for the stupendous success of Chak De India. Not only did the film set the cash registers ringing but more importantly, it brought back prestige to the banner. Naturally, filmmaker Yash Chopra was in a rather self-congratulatory mood, as he spoke about a variety of aspects concerning Bollywood’s most powerful production house.
The director’s own film which he is scripting presently with Jaideep Sahni, will go on floors in January. “I am still writing the script and only after I finish it, can I decide upon my star cast,” he says.
That reminds us of one of Yash Raj’s next releases, Aja Nachle.
Rumours are rife that Madhuri Dixit is not exactly elated with the way the film has shaped up and is reluctant to promote it. Chopra dismisses this piece of news, “Madhuri is coming to India tomorrow morning and she will start promoting the film. Aja Nachle is meant to be her comeback film and she was thrilled when she heard the subject. She has created sheer magic in the film and I’m confident the audiences will fall in love with her all over again.”

As for taking a rather long break after Veer Zaara, he explains, “I can only make films I believe in and get excited about. Since all my films are about human relationships, I find it very hard to get good subjects. I can’t make an action film or a thriller, so my choices are restricted. Also, when it comes to human relationships, there are several social taboos and one needs to take care the subject doesn’t hurt anyone’s sentiments. Then again, it has to be aesthetically narrated. So, it always remains a big challenge to make a good love story.”
While Chak De India is a clear exception, many of the other films made under the banner lately have been all about glamour, mega stars and glossy
packaging. For someone like Chopra, who has so many milestones to his credit - from making Bollywood’s first songless thriller (Ittefaq) to directing Lamhe, a film way ahead of its times--- how does he deal with criticism that the banner is making films lacking in substance these days? Dhoom, Fanaa, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Neal N Nikki are some recent examples. Almost sidestepping the question, Chopra says, “I may not have made an actioner, but when we decide to make one, we make sure it turns out to be the best one. Dhoom 2 released along with Casino Royale and I had a lot of people who came and told me that the action in Dhoom 2 was better. We have been trying to promote all kinds of films, some do well, some don’t. Filmmaking is a dicey proposition because until it releases, no one can predict if it will work or not. That is the beauty of cinema.”

He heaps praise on his own Veer Zaara, which elicited a mixed critical response when it released in 2004. “It was the first Indo-Pak love story of its kind and do you know, it is probably the single largest selling music album of all time! It was a daring experiment to take Madan Mohan’s music, composed more than 30 years ago and use it for the film. But it worked.”

While it maybe his son Aditya Chopra who runs Yash Raj Films today, the decisions, he says are always taken after mutual consultation. And the banner, he says, is extremely keen to encourage young talent. “This year, we made five films, next year we would like to make six films. While choosing a new director, we always go by our gut feeling and the confidence the person shows in his script. And it’s not only new directors whom we are opening our doors for. The media hasn’t noticed, but we have been consistently taking on new talents, whether they are singers, music directors or other technicians.”

For a banner which has always laid a premium on star appeal, today the filmmaker feels nothing is more important than a script. “Look at Chak De India. It is a complete film on its own and really, any actor could have made it work. No doubt ke Shah Rukh ne chaar chaand laga diye but point is, today a good film only needs a good script.”


Blogger Ravi said...

A very nice and in depth interview as always Sandhya.

November 20, 2007 at 5:01 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home