“I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT HITS AND FLOPS!”

Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY -

This man needs no in­tro­duc­tion. The love for our mother­land and the re­spect for the fau­jis is beau­ti­fully trans­lated into a four hour long jour­ney by this uber tal­ented film­maker. Known for ac­ing the genre of war and pa­tri­otic films, Na­tional Award Win­ner, JP DUTTA, who has given In­dian cinema, films like Border and LoC is back af­ter a hia­tus with the third in­stall­ment of the tril­ogy Pal­tan. In a free­wheel­ing chat with the man him­self, Shar­bani Mukher­jee tries to un­der­stand the gifted film­maker’s filmi jour­ney, his pas­sion for films, mu­sic and more. Read on…

Al­though you hail from a filmi fam­ily, you’ve cre­ated a niche for your­self. How has your jour­ney in Bol­ly­wood been?

I have been re­ally for­tu­nate that I have got away with mur­der. I have walked my walk, I have talked my talk – all thanks to my tech­ni­cal team and all the peo­ple who I have worked with over the years. They have had so much faith in me and trusted me so much that even with­out a bound script they’ve worked and that in it­self is such a bless­ing from the Almighty and that in it­self is a big high.

Are you sat­is­fied with the kind of jour­ney you’ve had as an in­di­vid­ual and a film­maker?

Ob­vi­ously there have been both good and frus­trat­ing times. But over­all, if you ask me as an in­di­vid­ual, a per­son who is spir­i­tual, I’d say ev­ery­thing is fine. As a film­maker it goes into another zone al­to­gether and there are more neg­a­tives than pos­i­tives. That is also be­cause there is a per­cep­tion in the film in­dus­try that for no rea­son or fault of mine they feel, I’ll put it in one line – This has been the re­frain that I have heard in my en­tire ca­reer. That’s your film Yeh apne aap ko sama­jhta kya hai? in­dus­try for you. But as a per­son, I feel blessed, in fact blessed more than ex­pected.

What are your views about the Hindi film in­dus­try?

When I’d walked into RK Stu­dio as an as­sis­tant, I’d come in with so many lofty ideas of mak­ing mo­tion pic­ture, this and that and it all came crum­bling down. It was such a shift. Every­one is talk­ing about scripts and films and ev­ery­thing else but mo­tion pic­ture. And maybe be­cause I saw all that, I be­came iso­lated to the film in­dus­try, I just kind of cut off from the whole so­cial cir­cuit. There are very mixed sort of feel­ings I have to­wards my fra­ter­nity, do they hate my guts or what it is I don’t know. And it was my dad’s mis­for­tune that for al­most 18-19 years he didn’t have work. That’s why I was very alien to the film in­dus­try. So, when he didn’t have work, ev­ery­body dis­ap­peared. If you’re not suc­cess­ful, you’re over. So I re­ally didn’t in­ter­act with the film in­dus­try as such. It was just those ini­tial years but af­ter that noth­ing. But till my brother and I could stand on our feet, we were al­ways fi­nan­cially down. But any­way, that’s a part of life. To­day, re­gional cinema is far ahead of us. Shekhar Ka­pur is mak­ing this state­ment now but I’d said the same thing back in 2012.

What changes have you ob­served in Bol­ly­wood as a film­maker?

I think that there is def­i­nite growth in our film in­dus­try. Ac­tors are much more ded­i­cated, more hard­work­ing, very fo­cused, tech­ni­cians are good and all that has grown and been very pos­i­tive. The only neg­a­tive side is the mu­sic. It has de­gen­er­ated. Like I al­ways tell Nidhi and Sid­dhi,

There is a per­cep­tion in the film in­dus­try that yeh apne ap ko sama­jhta kya hai.”

my daugh­ters, and the present gen­er­a­tion, that if you need to un­der­stand the cul­ture and the wis­dom of In­dia, lis­ten to the songs from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s and you will get ex­actly what In­dia stands for. Be­cause then, films were films, di­rec­tors were di­rec­tors, mu­sic was mu­sic, and ac­tors were ac­tors, it was a golden pe­riod. There was a height of tal­ent that you could see, like there was SD Bur­man and Ravi and Naushad and Shankar Jaik­is­han and Kalyanji- Anandji and Laxmikant Pyare­lal, they were all there to­gether. And they also had some of the great­est lyri­cists like Sahir Lud­hi­anvi and some oth­ers, they wrote such lyrics that you could un­der­stand the psy­che of the coun­try. The other day I was play­ing a song by Sahir, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, and it struck me that there hasn’t been a sin­gle sub­ject which this man hasn’t writ­ten about.

Have you had a chance of in­ter­act­ing with these men pro­fes­sion­ally?

I had worked with him (Sahir) on a film that didn’t re­lease. I had recorded five songs with him and Laxmikant Pyare­lal in 1976. I was 26 at that time, I was mak­ing a film on Pak­istani pris­on­ers of war in In­dia but the film never got to see the light of the day. I am lucky to have worked with them. I also worked with Gulzar and al­though the song never got recorded, the lyrics were writ­ten by Kaifi Azmi. And as a child I had vis­ited the sets of Mughal-e-Azam with my fa­ther and met K.Asif. The direc­tor was very friendly to my fa­ther. So he asked me to lis­ten to all the songs dur­ing the lunch break. Amongst it, was also a pop­u­lar song, ‘Jo vada kiya woh nib­haana padega’. So yes, it has been a bless­ing, more than I ex­pected.

Do you plan to re­work and get the un­re­leased film on the sil­ver screen any­time soon?

(laughs) I don’t know. It is more like an anti-war film, which makes a big state­ment against war.

Isn’t it dif­fi­cult jug­gling be­tween the roles of an ac­tor, direc­tor and a pro­ducer?

Not at all. I feel very blessed. Saraswati maa has blessed me on that, it is the eas­i­est part of the job.

Your films tell the true story and you have to man­age this huge en­sem­ble cast for your lat­est film Pal­tan. So doesn’t it get on your nerves?

Not at all, it gives me a high. My hap­pi­ness lies in mak­ing films! If I am not mak­ing films, I am sad. What­ever it is, be it a hit or a flop, I hand it over to my Almighty.”

Stills from Border

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