How would you rate Vikramaditya Motwane as a director?
Vikramaditya Motwane, who has made his debut as a director with my film Udaan, should have ideally become a director even before me because he is very knowledgeable. I admire him completely for his ability as a filmmaker. In fact, every time I used to have a problem in any aspect of filmmaking, I used to go to him to solve the problem and he used to oblige me gladly. I would say that Vikram is extremely assured as a filmmaker and very methodical to the core. Though I would say that I am a very spontaneous filmmaker unlike Vikramaditya, he is way beyond me as a filmmaker.
Tell me something about your film Udaan!
UTV has backed Udaan which is a film on an adolescent boy. Though I am the producer of the film, I would not hesitate to state that it is 100% a Vikramaditya film. Udaan is a film about a small town boy and his aspirations and the family pressures to which he is subjected to. It is a film about the coming of age of a young boy, who knows what he wants to do and the conflict which the motherless boy has with his father.
What is the USP of Udaan?
I would not hesitate to say that being a film buff I have watched several films not only from India but also all over the world but have not seen a film which has been tackled as brilliantly as Udaan. It has the feel as well as resonance of Wake Up Sid, though it is not city based. What sets Udaan apart from the other films is the way Vikramaditya has done the setting and the atmosphere of the film by giving it a distinct milieu of its own.
Tel me about the survey among the teens undertaken by UTV to promote Udaan!
A survey was conducted on the lifestyles of the youth today, as a part of the promotion strategy for Udaan by UTV in conjunction with an online research platform called surveymonkey.com between June 8 and June 28 this year and the links were posted on social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut. About 1,100 teens, both males and females took the survey which was restricted to 19 year olds and younger. I was shocked by the results revealed by the survey.
What shocked you?
The survey revealed that only 10% of teens irrespective of gender feel closest to their fathers. Udaan deals with the conflict in the relationship between a father and a son. Ronit Roy plays the role of the father in my film Udaan. The survey also indicated that if only life gave them another chance, one out of every three teens would change their career paths. A greater percentage of teenage boys want to change their looks as compared to the teenage girls and one in three teens does not discuss his or her problems with his or her parents.
What message does Udaan set out to drive home?
Udaan has a great script. When I read the script, I felt that it was very realistic in its approach to life. The film sets out to drive home the point that we do not try to understand the point of view of our children. If 30% of the kids today do not want to discuss their problems with their parents, it is the parents who are to be blamed. It is scary to read that there are many teenage girls who get suicidal thoughts when they find that they have got pregnant due to some intimate relationship that they have had while in school or college, especially in small towns.
Why did not you direct Udaan instead of just producing it?
I just cannot make every film like say Paanch or for that matter Gulaal. After watching a film like Udaan or for that matter Wake Up Sid, I have come to the conclusion that we have no other alternative but to gracefully accept the fact that we cannot make films the way newcomers do today. Vikramaditya is one such prime example that I can give. I feel that today"s filmmakers like me now belong to the old school of thought. I just cannot make a film like Udaan as a director, though I have produced it.
Udaan does not boast of any star in its cast. Do you have any problem when it comes to working with stars?
Frankly I do not have any problem at all to work with stars. However, my question is whether the stars will be willing to work with me in a film where every character is equally important? When I go to the stars with a script, they are very confused. I had launched a film called Allwyn Kalicharan with Anil Kapoor a few years ago. I was known as an avant garde filmmaker and my film Paanch had been banned by the censor Board and I was not taken seriously by the film industry. I managed to convince Anil Kapoor to be a part of my project, because I needed stars to sell my project.
What went wrong with the project with Anil Kapoor?
I had just announced the project after Anil had agreed to work with me but six days before the film went on the floors, Anil Kapoor was not too sure of me and my capacity to pull off the project and decided to walk out of the film and sadly the film was never made.
Has the phenomenal success of Dev D made things better for you as a filmmaker?
Yes. You can say that. Dev D has changed the scenario drastically for better for me as a filmmaker. I should say I was greatly relieved by the response of both the critics as well as the paying public to my film. Earlier there was a lot of pressure because of films getting banned and there was the pressure of survival.
What is your advice to new and young filmmakers?
All that I can tell them is that they should not be scared of trying out anything new. They should not accept defeat when things do not work out the way they want them. When things looked bleak for me, I decided to take a step back and tried to be more comprehensive but not simplified.
Can you describe your journey till date as a director?
Each film that I have made till date, for me has been a great learning experience as a filmmaker in my journey. It has been a very painful journey with a lot of hiccups but I have no regrets at all because it is a journey which I had chosen to walk on. I know that you have to take everything in your stride, fight it out and face your opponents.