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    'Nazar' is entirely my film: Soni Razdan

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Wednesday, May 25, 2005
    "I feel I''ve made a film I can be happy about," says Soni Razdan about "Nazar", which ran into trouble over a ''screen kiss'' between its Pakistani heroine and Indian hero and will still be the first Indian film to be premiered on Pakistan television.

    The thriller starring Pakistani actress Meera and Ashmit Patel will be seen on Pakistan''s Aaj TV on May 29, and Razdan sees the development as a "huge cultural breakthrough" for the country.

    The entire kissing controversy helped her open her eyes to differing moral values, she says. "It never occurred to me that I was shooting with a Muslim heroine and a Hindu hero. That isn''t the way my mind works."

    Razdan admits that there was a suggestion of a kiss in her maiden directorial venture but it was toned down. "I didn''t want to hurt anyone''s sentiments.

    "My film''s plot didn''t hinge on the kiss. I said, to hell with it," Razdan told IANS in an interview.

    As for her find Meera, Razdan says she has the most amazing screen presence seen in a "long, long time".

    After "Nazar" is a film possibly with UTV for which talks are on.

    Why did you allow your husband Mahesh Bhatt to take over your film?

    Why do you say that? I'm on every TV channel talking about "Nazar". Earlier, since he was the producer and also clued into the India-Pakistan issue, I thought it was only fair for him to hold fort. But I've directed "Nazar". It's entirely my film. Mahesh was on his best behaviour. He let me be completely. I cannot thank Mahesh and his brother Mukesh enough for giving me the responsibility.

    Aren't people looking at "Nazar" for all the wrong reasons?

    I don't think so. The whole idiotic controversy fortunately erupted long before the release of "Nazar". I feel I've made a film I can be happy about. Initially, when the kissing controversy erupted, I thought it was ridiculous. The whole event opened my eyes to the differing moral values in various places.

    The way we look at a simple kiss in Mumbai isn't the way the rest of the world looks at it. It never occurred to me that I was shooting with a Muslim heroine and a Hindu hero. That isn't the way my mind works. And Meera isn't playing a Muslim Pakistani in "Nazar". She's an Indian girl named Divya. I realised the issue wasn't a kiss but much larger. It had to be handled with extreme delicacy.

    Is there no kiss in "Nazar"?

    There was a suggestion of a kiss that I toned down after the controversy. I didn't want to hurt anyone's sentiments. My film's plot didn't hinge on the kiss. I said, to hell with it.

    "Nazar" has nothing to do with India-Pakistan relations?

    The content has absolutely nothing to do with India-Pakistan relations. It's a story set in Mumbai. It's a serial killer murder mystery with an edge of the supernatural. But this is an Indo-Pakistan co-production. The film will be premiered on (May) 29 on Aaj TV in Pakistan.

    But a TV premiere isn't a proper release!

    But I see it as a huge cultural breakthrough in Pakistan. The small screen premiere is a big step ahead for the two countries. We need to come together in many ways. Our artistes should be allowed to go to Pakistan just as we welcome their artistes. I'm terribly upset that my "Nazar" leading man Ashmit Patel hasn't been given a visa to accompany us to Pakistan.

    Why is that?

    It's a technical problem and I don't understand it. I'm too taken up with the release of my film.

    Is he as pivotal to "Nazar" as Meera?

    No! Meera is the main protagonist. At the same time Ashmit Patel, Aly Khan and Koel Puri are also pivotal to the plot.

    Why release it with a similar sounding film "Naina"?

    That's unfortunate. I guess it's just Murphy's Law at work here. Both the films have to do with vision. But "Naina" and "Nazar" are two different stories. It's an open secret which film "Naina" is adapted from and my film isn't at all the same. Mine is an original story. The only similarity to "Naina" is that the heroine sees things that others can't. At the end of the day they're two different films.

    We haven't seen an original Mahesh Bhatt production since "Zakham".

    Oh my goodness! Well, there you have it. It was Mahesh's story idea. And my screenwriter developed the idea.

    You've taken long to direct your first feature film.

    Actually, I wanted to make a film called "Difficult Daughters" first. Of course, I'll make it. It's my dream project. Then Mahesh met Meera at a film festival. They decided to get together for a film. I wasn't in the picture then. Mahesh offered me "Nazar". And I couldn't refuse it. The story was so powerful. To do this as the first film was a big challenge. It made the adrenaline flow within me. If it got me so charged I'm sure the audience will feel the same.

    Has Meera delivered?

    She has over delivered. She has the most amazing screen presence I've seen any woman have in a long, long time. An actor either has the quality or doesn't. Meera has it in plenty. I think I'm plain lucky to get this kind of a vehicle and leading lady in my first film. I'm now in talks with UTV for another film. Not "Difficult Daughters". That's the difficult one.

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