Wednesday, January 9, 2008

'TZP is one for posterity'

Ram Madhvani, who directed the song Bheja Kum in Taare Zameen Par, tells Sandhya Iyer how he’s not surprised by the huge success of the film

Ram Madhvani’s association with Aamir Khan dates back to the time when the former made the highly quirky and critically acclaimed Let’s Talk. Aamir was hugely impressed by the film and became an acquaintance of the director. Meanwhile, Madhvani kept busy with his career as a high-flying ad filmmaker. However, when Aamir fell short of time during the shooting of Taare Zameen Par, he approached him to direct the song, Bheja Kum in the film.The Let’s Talk director says he agreed immediately, no questions asked. “When Aamir Khan asks something, there’s no way one is going to refuse,” he says.

The song comes at a key point in the film, where the child protagonist breaks down emotionally. The director says he had several meetings with Aamir and the creative team before putting together the song. “I didn’t want anyone to see the song out of the context of the film. I wanted it to be within the ‘sur’ and ‘tone’ of the film. Aamir gave me a lot of his ideas, so it would be wrong for me to say that the inputs were all mine. I should say I was the guest director of the film.”As for the creative aspect of the song, he says, “The idea of the song was to depict what was going on in the kid’s head. How do you visualise that? There were three levels in the song that we approached. The first one was one where Darsheel (Ishaan) sees letters as mirror images and basically as gibberish. The second level has him seeing letters as creepy spiders that scare him. His graph progresses from confusion to frustration and then anger. He finally ‘loses it’ and those red crosses signify how he is getting ‘cancelled out’ by everyone. Finally, in his own mind, he has cancelled himself out. The song is important because Darsheel goes steadily downhill in this song and stops talking altogether. It’s a full stop for him. So we basically were trying to externalise what he was experiencing internally.”

Did he imagine the film to turn out to be as significant as it has this year? “Well, when I saw the rough cut of the film last November, I knew it would be a very important film. There are very few films that are attitude-changing ones, this is one of them. I was overcome by the sincerity and honesty in the film. Now the reactions to the film have been quite incredible. I’ve had SMSes saying ‘I’m happy to be alive and see a film like this.’”It must be heartening to see unconventional subjects being lapped up so affectionately even by the box-office? His own film,
Let’s Talk, was one of its kind when it released. Madhvani disagrees with this theory, “Everyone’s been saying that it’s good that such films do well. I, for one, believe that the market has been underestimating the audiences for too long. Any good, sincere film will do well, so I’m not in the least surprised by TZP’s huge success. It’s one for posterity. Aamir himself doesn’t look at films as being commercial or non-commercial. Once he associates himself with a subject, he will do everything to ‘protect’ the tone of its voice,” he says.

In spite of making a successful debut with Let’s Talk, the director preferred to go back to commercials. One wonders what kept him away for so long? Here, he offers no definite answers and says he was just busy with other things (a documentary film on Amitabh Bachchan being one of the things he did). But the filmmaker has now agreed to director a fantasy film for Vidhu Vinod Chopra, with whom he worked earlier in Mission Kashmir as associate director. “I’ve always wanted to make movies from the age of 16. I’m in the process of scripting the film (for Vidhu Vinod Chopra), which we hope to call Talisman. The film is based on a story written in 1892 called Chandrakanta,” he tells us.As for being the director who gave Boman Irani his career-defining role with

Let’s Talk, he says, “Oh, Boman’s a friend and I think he’s too talented for anyone to keep him hidden anyway.”


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