Piyali Dasgupta, NDTV
January 19, 2012 22:27 IST
Shekhar Kapur, among a few Indian directors with an international career, doesn't mince his words.
Ask him about Bollywood films and why he doesn't direct them anymore and there's a pronounced wince. This, despite directing a clutch of successful Hindi films such as Masoom, Mr India and the critically-lauded Bandit Queen.
The wince comes from the term "Bollywood". "Bollywood films are stifling. They limit creativity. To me, making films is like entering a temple. When you go with an agenda, the sanctity is lost," he says.
Quickly turning it around, he says, "Ask me if I would make another Indian film and I'll say I probably will." But don't expect mighty heroes in the film. Shekhar Kapur will have none of that, still. Pretty much like his coming-of-age film, Masoom, in 1983. Or like Bandit Queen, the 1994 film which won him international fame and at-home controversy. He reels them off, reminding me that his biggest films didn't have big names. Because big names come with egos and egos, destroy creativity.
"But who would you cast," I ask, in an Indian film. Dhanush? "I admire Dhanush," he says, "I have watched his movie (Aadukalam) where he plays a cock-fighter."
From Dhanush, the conversation shifts to the other "hero" who has taken Bollywood by storm - Vidya Balan. I asked him if he had watched The Dirty Picture...perhaps Bollywood is trying to shake itself out of the box...
"I haven't watched The Dirty Picture," he says. "Which is why I didn't raise my hand during the vote," referring to the jury duty he was on for a recent awards show. The best picture award at Bollywood's first big award show of 2012 has fuelled a war of words between two prominent filmmakers with one accusing the other of arm-twisting the jury. "I am appalled" says Shekhar Kapur. I have been on the jury of so many international festivals...I have never seen this. The jury is bound not to publicly discuss their decisions. I have turned down requests to be on the jury from even an actress I consider among the most talented...Shabana Azmi...but I accepted this. Never again," he says firmly.
Moving on to happier topics like future projects, I am intensely curious about his reports of a film on the legendary mountaineer George Mallory which is reportedly in pre-production. "If everything falls into place, I will work on it," he says with a twinkle.
Completely satisfied, I am ready to wrap this up as the charming Shekhar Kapur gets ready for more questions. Mine have been answered.