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    I will never work with stars again: Mahesh Bhatt

    [Interview by Hindol Sengupta]
    Thursday, January 13, 2005
    Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt has vowed never to work with star actors any more. They just don''''t make business sense, he says.

    "They are too expensive and I''''m not sure that they always add to the film. I have decided never to work with stars again. My strength is only the stories that I have to tell," Bhatt told IANS in an interview.
    "I began my career (working) with big names like Aamir (Khan) but now I completely shun the star list. It just doesn't make sense. For me, the story is the star."

    Next releases from the Bhatt stable, which includes his daughter Pooja and brother Mukesh, would be "Nazar" and "Zeher".

    "Nazar" stars Pakistani star Meera, Ashmit Patel and Koel Puri, while "Zeher" has Imraan Hashmi, Shamita Shetty and Udita Goswami.

    "'Nazar' is a thriller while 'Zeher' is the story of why love turns to poison after marriage - and, yes, both of them have my trademark feeling of loneliness."

    This loneliness, said Bhatt, had driven him in all that he has ever done.

    "I am a victim of my own loneliness," said the director, the troubled genius of Hindi filmdom. "All my character traits are due to this loneliness - all my hyperactivity, my attention to detail, me being a perfectionist, the characters I wrote, the films I made, the relationships that I had.

    "My great work and my alcoholism - it all comes from that."

    Bhatt, who now writes films after retiring from direction following four flops in the early 90s, said it is this overwhelming sense of being alone that he is fleeing even today.

    "It just doesn't go away, this feeling," said Bhatt. "It seems to envelop me from all sides the more I try to escape it. I even try to escape it by putting a bit of my angst and troubles in the characters I create."

    Of late, those characters have got bolder and more brazen than ever before with films like "Jism", "Paap", "Murder" and now "Rog".

    "These are timid times, times of great mediocrity, but I'm not a timid man and I do not make timid films," said Bhatt. "My stories are audacious and that's the way I like them."

    As he pens yarn after yarn, one theme remains constant - humans grappling with eccentric situations and coping with intense emotion and aloneness.

    "I see our modern cities as these great edifices which hide so much. There is never a moment to spare and everyone is just hurtling and hurtling - god knows where," said the man who has famously dabbled with every kind of sin and spirituality and is a follower of the late philosopher J. Krishnamurti.

    "Everything has become a roller-coaster ride and if you're caught on the ride, then it's high, but it also has tremendous lows. We want to capture this sense of perpetual insecurity," said Bhatt, adding that his aim now is to make each of his films totally commercially viable.

    "I spent a lot of time in my life pursuing ideas that I was interested in. Now I just want my films to succeed. This industry is too cruel for anyone to do anything else."

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