Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ravi Baswani's last interview

Ravi BaswaniIn his last interview to Times Of India, actor Ravi Baswani had talked about why he is still remembered by Chashme Buddoor and Jaane Bhi..., but hasn’t been able to secure a permanent citizenship of tinseltown.

Your directorial debut revolves around a 10-year-old orphan. Why did you choose to write and direct a children’s film?
The child is in the desolate hills and his life revolves around his daadi and his friends. His life is a ball and then something begins to happen. Anything more would let the cat out of the bag. There is no rape, no mujra, no action. It’s a simple, innocent story. Let me clarify that it’s not a children’s film. Hopefully, it will appeal to everyone. It’s about how things affect children, a world that’s cut off, and how you aspire for things. There’s a big gap between the real world and such an innocent world. It’s a lost world that has four houses, no electricity and no room for a big bus.

The project has taken so long to materialise. After Chashme Buddoor and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Ask ask, I know what you’re getting at...

Why do you not have a more stable and successful career graph?
Firstly, let me accept it. If you begin with cinema like that, where do you go from there? I was quite determined that if I was going to work, it has to be good work. Secondly, I don’t like the label of a comedian. We’ve done a lot of theatre; I felt that we were capable of doing, hopefully, all kinds of roles. I cannot play a villain for example. But I did some serious, emotional roles and I stuck to my guns. I will wait, I will die without making my film. But I will not begin with a compromise.

Let’s go further back when Naseer, Om and Raj Babbar had made it in theatre. They’d say, “Tu kya kar raha hai, yaar? Aaja, bahut kaam hai.” I said, “With a face like mine ... ?” I had decided agar mere naseeb mein films hogi, then it will come to me in Delhi. And Chashme Buddoor came to me in Delhi. Everything has to take its own time.

Connect the dots for us, please...
I got my first film to direct back then on the recommendation of Shashi Kapoor and I politely turned the lady down. I said that I must learn filmmaking first. After Jaane Bhi ... , colour television came to my rescue. I got to act in a lot of serials on Doordarshan. Soon after, I got to produce and direct my first serial. These things have kept me occupied and learning. Before 2001, if you would’ve asked me to write a script, I would’ve said, “Wrong number. I don’t write.” Thanks to the computer which helped my Libran trait of writing in an organised manner, in 2001, I began to write. I narrated the first draft of my directorial debut to 12 people — writers, editors and the like. Fortunately, I have a group of friends who are quite capable of telling me it is shit. They unanimously said, ‘Shoot tomorrow.’

Given your uncompromising stand, have your relationships been strained in the industry?
Not really. But people feel that I am a difficult man. I ask four questions: What is my role? What is the film about? How much money will you give? And if it’s acceptable, when and how will you pay me? Till recently there were no stories! Now there is an obsession about bound scripts. A boy goes abroad, meets a girl and marries her. This is the story. What am I to play? The flight or the air ticket? To money, the reaction is, ‘Hain? You’re asking about money also?’ It’s about clarity, which the industry lacks. A producer remarked, “Ravi, it is difficult to do comedy”. I say, “Yaar, you give me difficult work, while you give Suniel Shetty the easy work. And you give him more money. I don’t understand the logic.” Let’s be clear about the terms. If professionalism makes you difficult, so be it.

Has it made you bitter or cynical?
Not at all. I celebrate life. You understand why people are like that. Sometimes it is distinct lack of knowledge. One has worked with all kinds. I am one actor you can set your watch by. People think jitna late aayega, utna bada star. Galat hai. I once asked an actor why he was coming late. He said, ‘Sir, they never start on time.’ I said, ‘Why are you spoiling your discipline?’ Recently, I heard another actor saying, ‘I have done a lot of research on this character. And because this is a serious role, I will wear glasses.’ He wasn’t laughing about it.

What do you think of cinema today?
Soul ka problem hai. It has become very aspirational ... with one eye on the Oscar and one eye on New York’s Times Square. There is a vast audience for Hindi films, NRIs specially, but the change is reflected in two prominent things — one is the English titles. I mean, Kites? Kyon bhai? There was an ad where Hrithik Roshan tells a writer to go to an island, think of the film and call him. He calls Hrithik and says, “I’ve thought of the title — Kites.” If I were Hrithik, I’d tell the writer, “You come back on the next flight out!” The second is the use of English in songs. My cameraman Anshul Chaubey asks me in his Bengali accent, “Sir, but where is the Indian culture?” I don’t know about Indian culture but I know about Indian ethos. If we didn’t ignore that, we’d make a genuine film.

We make films dimaag se, not dil se. It’s very calculated. Subject matter thanda padh jaata hai. We have to admit that we are very poor in storytelling. If we take Karan Johar’s cinema for reference, it’s technically superb, polished. There is gloss and glam. Emotions hain, but there is nothing new. It’s always about family, saas, sasur and culture. We just have to turn around and start reading our regional literature. Don’t say audience nahin samajhti hai, I say aapko samajh nahin aata hai. Of course, if there is a big budget you have to recover it. My question is: Why make a film costing `2 crore or `100 crore?

Among the current lot, which directors would you like to work with?
Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Ashutosh Gowariker... I told Ashutosh that Jodhaa Akbar was a terrible film. I don’t think I’ve seen a worse assembly of actors. It’s like he said, “Bring me all the bad actors. I’m going to make cinema out of that.” He will kill me for this, but he knows that I mean well.

What happened to the Jaane Bhi... sequel?
It has been on the cards for three years. We were signed on by Firoz Nadiadwala. Kundan Shah was to direct and write. We had one session and we haven’t heard about it since.

Can you take criticism as generously as you dole it out?
I hope people won’t have to say those words.


Post a Comment

Search Your Questions Results Trends Video Pictures Jobs