She has forged a successful career spanning almost two decades in Bollywood. Bollywood Hungama’s Devansh Patel spoke with director Reema Kagti about |her latest film, Talaash, which releases this week…
Ang Lee said every time he wakes up, he wants to see his movies go somewhere. Where do you want your movies to go?
I don’t know, to be honest. But yes, to see the light of the day. To see the writing come alive. I want them to release. From the idea stage to translating it to a 100- to 120-page script to finally translating it to a two-and-a-half hour film, you do see the genesis, the birth of an idea.
How much did film influence you as a young person?
I grew up in Assam. I went to a boarding school. I am a bit of a product of piracy. (laughs) That’s the only thing you got there. I grew up on a lot of B-grade movies. But I was a film buff. I was so happy to watch a film back then, but as I grew older, I started to have my opinion of what I liked watching and what I didn’t.
Can you name some films you liked as a kid?
I was obsessed with Mr Natwarlal. The film had a big impact on me. I remember I used to force my mother to take me to watch it. I was obsessed with Sholay, too. So, I was obsessed with Amitabh Bachchan. And years later, after working with Mr Bachchan on two films, it was a dream come true for me.
How did you get Aamir to say “yes” to your movie?
The first time I narrated the film to Aamir, he seemed to like the narration. But here’s how it worked. When Zoya Akthar and I were writing the script we really had Aamir Khan in mind. When we’d finished writing, Aamir was very busy and he told us that he’d take a lot of time to hear the narration. We wanted to go to some other actors. But honestly, no one was supposed to do this film except Aamir. After a year-and-a-half, Aamir, post Dhobi Ghat, heard the narration. He came back rather quickly and asked for a second narration.
The song Jee Le Zara from Talaash is a huge hit. Was Aamir instrumental in bringing Ram Sampath on board?
It wasn’t just Aamir who recommended Ram Sampath to me. It was also Farhan. Ram had worked on Game. Nobody forces you to work with someone. We sit down and brainstorm. We were putting together the names of music directors and Ram was the unanimous choice. I don’t think Aamir does things like that.
When I met Ram, I felt the instant connection. We have similar sensibilities. Talaash’s music isn’t about creating sensational item numbers, but arriving at the songs. If you miss out on a song, you may miss out on some vital information. We’ve made sure the music is a part of the narrative. Songs can also create suspense.
What’s the most challenging thing about making a suspense drama?
The most challenging thing is to convince people it’s not a thriller. When you have a lot of suspense, it naturally becomes a thriller, but in Talaash, even though there is a lot of suspense, it’s the core of the film that’s very emotional. At the end of the day, it’s a drama. It’s an unusual genre and I have an upper hand.
Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor, both are diametrically opposite each other in personality but on screen, both are fiery, aren’t they?
Much of a good performance is about good casting. It’s like half the battle won. Rani and Kareenahave separate approaches. Both are accomplished and have complete control on their craft. Both are precise and exact. As a director, I am really dependent on my cast and crew to bring out what I’m trying to say. I feel Rani and Kareena can communicate anything. Give it to them and see the magic on screen.
Aren’t you proud of the fact that you are one of the few women directors who has excelled as a writer, too?
Traditionally we live in a patriarchal world. Let’s not look at the Hindi film industry in isolation. If you see the number of women in the work force across all professions, you’ll find more men than women. This is a hard job to do. It’s a crazy lifestyle, too. Having said that, I don’t consider this to be a man’s world. It’s people’s perception. I have been in this industry for 18 years and people keep asking me what prejudices I’ve faced. Honestly, I haven’t faced any problem on the basis of my gender. The problem I feel is with my personality and my thinking, sometimes. So being a woman director I do feel proud.
Would you love to direct Farhan Akthar someday?
I would love to direct him and I’ve been trying to do it for several years. He is a slippery character, but I am not ready to give up. – bollywoodhungama.com
• WIN! WIN! WIN!
To stand a chance to win one of 5 double tickets and CDs of Talaash, sms “Talaash DN” and your name to 33963 before 9am tomorrow. Smses charged at R1.50 and winners will be notified telephonically.