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Aamir Khan’s dedication is an exception to the film industry’s politics and unprofessional ways: Director Manish Gupta – #BigInterview | Hindi Movie News

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In this captivating Big Interview, Indian filmmaker Manish Gupta provides a candid and insightful glimpse into his cinematic world. From the challenges faced during the production of ‘One Friday Night’ to his unique experiences working with Raveena Tandonand Milind Soman, Gupta shares valuable anecdotes and perspectives. He sheds light on his distinctive inclination towards thrillers and realism in cinema, while candidly expressing his disappointment with the current state of Hindi cinema.Gupta’s reflections on his collaboration withBollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Sarkar’ and his uncompromising approach to filmmaking reveal a passionate artist navigating the ever-evolving landscape of the film industry.
What challenges did you face during the shoot of ‘One Friday Night’?
There were numerous challenges. I was shooting at an isolated villa atop a hill, surrounded by a lake. It was a very remote location with limited facilities. Additionally, I insisted on shooting only in July and August during the monsoon season, as I wanted to capture the lush greenery, overcast skies, and an overflowing lake. Many scenes were shot in natural rain, which added to the complexity of the production. Gathering all these elements together proved to be quite challenging. One of the difficulties was ensuring that the people involved in the film understood the significance of these conditions. Only those who have seen the movie can truly grasp why I was insistent on my vision. Unfortunately, very few people truly comprehend a director’s vision.
How was working with Raveena Tandon and Milind Soman?
Working with Raveena and Milind was a unique experience. Their collaboration was fresh, as they had never worked together before. Milind’s performance was exceptional. I advised Milind not to act but to be himself. I showed him a candid video of himself and his wife, where they openly expressed their love despite a significant age difference. I encouraged him to be authentic and not attempt to act. He was a natural fit for the character and underwent a 7-day workshop to perfect it.
As for Raveena, her background in mainstream commercial films with a glamorous and different tone made it challenging for her to adapt to my style of filmmaking. In terms of acting, makeup, costumes. In general, the sensibilities are very different. Small budget films like ours, come with the pressure of completing them quickly and efficiently, leaving no room for luxury. This contrast took some time for both of us to navigate and understand each other.
Who listens to the director more? Raveena or Milind?
In terms of being a director’s actor, both Milind and Raveena fit the bill. Raveena, in particular, was cooperative and followed directions, albeit sometimes reluctantly, as she was accustomed to a different style of filmmaking. In her introduction scene, you have seen that she has no makeup, lipstick, jewelry, nothing. But when she got ready on the set, she had thick, loud makeup, red lipstick and blue earrings. I told her nothing. I removed all her makeup. I got her lipstick removed completely. I got her earrings removed. She did it because I was the director and I was asking for it.
Why did you choose Raveena as your leading lady if there were differences regarding creative aspects?
I selected Raveena Tandon for the role because I needed a woman around the age of 49, with an attractive, tall and desirable presence. She possessed the right personality and beauty to play the character convincingly. In a pivotal scene, her character questions why her husband is infatuated with another girl, and for this, the wife needed to be beautiful and compelling. Raveena Tandon was the obvious choice for this role.
You are known for your inclination towards thrillers and films based on real incidents. What keeps you away from other genres like comedies or romances?
I am not interested in watching those films, and my filmmaking style revolves around realism and capturing real-life scenarios. While Bollywood produces rom-coms, comedies, and action films with extravagant spectacles, I find such films unappealing and even boring. My passion lies in suspenseful movies that delve into realism, and I want to stay true to my vision and style.
Have you seen any recent films that you liked?
I must admit my disappointment with Hindi cinema, and I haven’t watched any recent Hindi films. The last Hindi film I saw was ‘Tumbbad’ during the lockdown, and I found it to be a brilliant film, one of my favourites. If I come across a film of similar quality, I will certainly watch it.
Have you watched any South Indian films, particularly the original ‘Drishyam’?
I have refrained from watching South Indian films, even though I receive offers to remake South movies regularly. I typically decline these offers because many South Indian films are adapted from English, Spanish, or Korean movies, and I prefer to experience the original source material rather than a copy. I read extensively and appreciate original storytelling. I recently watched ‘Oppenheimer’ and I watched it because it was made by Christopher Nolan. By focusing on high-quality Hollywood films, I aim to set a high standard for my own work and continually strive to meet that level.
Do you feel your peers in the film industry don’t aspire to be as good, if not better, than their Western counterparts?
I am very sad to say this that in today’s world, because of corporations, studios and OTT platforms most of the directors have turned into service providers. The creative level on which most OTT platforms function are not according to the standards of acclaimed directors. There’s no vision when you’re working with them. That’s what’s happening in the industry today. There are a handful of directors who make films according to their vision.
Have the OTT platforms also changed the perspective of the audience? Especially with the kind of exposure that we saw during the COVID years?
The post-COVID era has introduced challenges in attracting audiences to theaters. People have grown accustomed to the convenience of OTT platforms, which offer the flexibility to watch content from home. However, theaters continue to provide a unique outing experience. While OTT platforms are convenient, theaters offer a different kind of entertainment. People still treat a theatre outing like it’s a family picnic and that novelty will not go away. My next film will be released in theaters because I want people to value the theater experience for a wider range of films, not just big-budget spectacles.
What are your memories of working on ‘Sarkar’ with Amitabh Bachchan?
Working with Amitabh Bachchan was a remarkable experience. He is the epitome of professionalism and dedication. Despite his legendary status, he approached every scene with the same anxiety and concern as a newcomer. He never takes anything for granted and continually strives for excellence. He doesn’t interfere with the director’s work and follows instructions diligently. Amitabh Bachchan embodies both stardom and dedication in one individual. There were times when I witnessed his greatness first hand, but Mr Bachchan never made it obvious, such is his humility. At times, I would correct him during rehearsals that he was saying the wrong words, instead of using the words that I had written. He would politely explain to me that my original word was from Urdu and that it would not suit Sarkar’s character. So on many occasions he would turn my Urdu based words to conventional Hindi words. Amitabh Bachchan’s knowledge and experience is unparalleled.
Is working with a superstar like Amitabh Bachchan a daunting task?
Not at all. It’s the exact opposite. You won’t believe it but we shot all scenes of ‘Sarkar’ that feature Mr Bachchan in just 9 days. The entire film was shot in 55 days. But we needed just 9 days to shoot all the scenes featuring him. We shot according to his schedule. Most of the time we shot at home. We sat down at home and controlled the dialogue.
‘Sarkar’ also featured Abhishek Bachchan. How was the equation between father and son?
Amit ji loves Abhishek a lot. He is his only son. And he is always very concerned about his career. Like any father would be. Mr Bachchan is very concerned about Abhishek’s career even at this age.
Was Ram Gopal Varma striving to make his own version of ‘The Godfather’ with ‘Sarkar’?
The initial idea of ‘Sarkar’ was by Ram Gopal Varma and not me. I advised against borrowing too heavily from ‘The Godfather’ and suggested drawing inspiration from the life of Balasaheb Thackeray, which had ample material to create a compelling narrative. The characters in the film were based on real-life figures, with Amitabh Bachchan’s character drawing from Balasaheb Thackeray, Kay Kay Menon’s character inspired by Balasaheb’s sons, and Rukhsar’s character representing certain aspects of Balasaheb’s family life. The character of the chief minister was based on Sharad Pawar, a close friend of Balasaheb Thackeray. Additionally, other characters took inspiration from figures like Chhagan Bhujbal, Haji Mastan, Iqbal Kaskar and Dawood Ibrahim. The film was a blend of real-life events and creative storytelling.
Is your family critical of your work? How do they react to your films?
My wife serves as my manager, and she is closely involved in the project. As for the rest of my family, they don’t take a significant interest in my work. I do seek feedback from around 15-20 people when I write a script. I put immense effort into my scripts, and this includes years of research. Feedback from others helps me gauge the script’s strengths and weaknesses. Their input guides me in refining or even abandoning a project if necessary.
How would you sum up your journey in the film industry so far? What have been the highs and lows of being a filmmaker?
My journey in the film industry has been a challenging and tumultuous ride. Every stage, from writing to securing financing, casting, and ensuring the film matches my vision, is filled with difficulties. The industry’s politics, lack of professionalism, and the prevailing attitude of hurrying through projects have made it even more demanding. Only a few directors stay true to their vision, and I aspire to be one of them. I spend about 90 percent of my time dealing with industry politics and only 10 percent on the creative aspects. One exception to this trend is Aamir Khan, who stands out for his dedication and hard work. He spends years on a single film and strives for excellence. Most others prefer rushing through projects, but I aim to maintain a high standard in my work by looking up to the best in the industry.





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