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    Ashutosh Gowariker keen to make film on Gandhi

    [Interview by Manish Chand]
    Friday, January 07, 2005
    Bollywood film director Ashutosh Gowariker says Mahatma Gandhi is his latest muse.
    "Gandhi was a non-resident Indian (NRI) before he came to India. His real story started when he was thrown off a train by the British in South Africa," he said.

    Although there are no concrete plans yet, he said he would love to make a film on Gandhi.

    "In `Swades' also, ultimately it is an NRI who makes all the difference," said the director of his latest film about a young NRI's return to his roots in rural India.

    "Reading Rajni Bakshi's `Bapu Kuti: Journeys in Rediscovery of Gandhi', inspired me. But beyond that the film idea was distinctly mine," Gowariker told IANS in an interview.

    Although the film, starring superstar Shah Rukh Khan, did not exactly set the box office on fire, the young director is clearly basking in its creative afterglow. He is now banking on "word-of-mouth publicity" to do the trick.

    "The beauty of bringing a hugely talented team together and making that vision work is what made `Swades' such a creatively satisfying experience," said the director, whose earlier film "Lagaan" won him an Oscar nomination three years ago.

    "The film (`Swades') is about urbanites who are villagers at heart. The challenge is to create enough rural opportunity to stop people from getting seduced by big-city glitz."

    "Entertainment is a must in cinema, but it must have a message," said Gowariker.

    Gowariker loves acting, but it is wielding the director's baton that gives him a creative high. He praised Shah Rukh Khan's "superlative performance" in the film.

    "Khan brings a certain element of unpredictability to the film. What impressed me about him was his ability to listen and to be in sync with the director's vision. Instead of tossing all kinds of suggestions for improvisation, his ability to be obedient is very evident now."

    Gowariker empathises with unappreciated talent in Bollywood.

    "Saif Ali Khan is finding recognition as an actor. But there are enormously talented actors like Akshaye Khanna and Rahul Khanna who are yet to find the kind of recognition that they so richly deserve. Abhishek Bachchan is also hugely talented, but his full potential has yet to come out."

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