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    I am looking for money, not praise: Mahesh Bhatt

    [Interview by Manisha Deshpande]
    Thursday, March 24, 2005
    A string of controversies punctuate his 30-year filmmaking career - but nothing seems to derail veteran director-producer Mahesh Bhatt.

    "I have a problem with authority... That''s the way I have always been... Controversy brings things into focus," the outspoken Bhatt tells on the eve of the release of his film "Zeher".

    Excerpts from the interview:

    You seem to be all charged up about the release of "Zeher".

    I am certainly looking forward to the film's release with a lot of anticipation. I guess it happens to every filmmaker prior to the release of a film. All of us keep oscillating between dread and hope.

    When a film does not work, you are reminded about all those hours that you spent believing in the film when you were actually working on a flop. Any filmmaker who does not have these apprehensions is either a liar or not fit to be in the business.

    Do you think there is better acceptability now on subjects such as extra-marital relationships, considering "Zeher" also deals with one?

    It is not films alone. The entire media industry has changed. For instance, crime slots on national networks are exploring extra-marital affairs, incest and paedophilia under the guise of news. The idea is as much to increase TRP ratings knowing that consumers get attracted to crime, violence and sexuality. Earlier, it wasn't the same.

    In 1973, when I made "Manzilen Aur Bhi Hain", so-called social activists made a big noise about the film destroying the institution of marriage. Subsequently, the film was banned for six months.

    Now, 32 years later, the world is intact and value systems are much the same. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    How far do you think sex helps in selling a film at the box-office?

    Sex definitely sells but it is not the be-all and end-all for a commercial success. In my 30-year track record of filmmaking, I have made every kind of film - right from "Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin" to "Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke", "Arth" and "Saaransh".

    However, at this stage in my life, I am only concerned about popular success. The box-office verdict is the only verdict I am seeking. I am not looking for critical acclaim. I don't want to mark reviews of my film and paste them in scrapbooks for my grandchildren to see.

    I am not looking for praise. I am looking for money, be it by fair or by foul means.

    Do you think controversy sells too?

    Controversy brings things into focus and in a way proves to be profitable. News gets better circulated, TRPs shoot up and products up for sale get a great opening response. But a film cannot be expected to run on mere controversy. It has to stand on its own merits to get a sustained response.

    You have got the reputation of being a rebel who does not think twice when it comes to challenging the system.

    That's the way I have always been. I was born a dissenting child. My mother warned me that I'd be in trouble since I was not in the habit of doing things as they were told to me.

    I have a problem with authority. Why should I listen to dictates of morality by two-faced hypocrites? I understand that every land and culture has its own do's and don'ts. If you violate them, you have to pay a price, which I am prepared to.

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