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    “I would be stupid if I place my film next to KANK” - Onir

    [Interview by Joginder Tuteja]
    Wednesday, August 30, 2006
    In the third and last edition of this 3-part interview, Joginder Tuteja catches up with Onir, director of ‘Bas Ek Pal’ to understand his comfort level with the film and how he is confused by the way critics function and arrive at ratings.

    How confident do you feel about the film today?

    Yes, I am quite confident that I have made good efforts to make film reach out to the world inspite of all its complexities! Though the film has been designed for multiplexes, it does have potential to go beyond them as well. What has also been positive is that wherever the film has been screened for trials, it has garnered good reactions. See, another aspect about making a film is if it is conveying any message.

    Time and again people do ask me if my film comes with a message. My point is that every film has some or other message coming from it. Why search for a message or the lack of it from either sensible cinema or a so-called hardcore commercial product? I would say even a film like 'Garam Masala' has a message even if that is not explicitly stated. The film sends a message on how a man should talk to a woman!

    This is why it amazes me when critics say that for a comedy or a hardcore masala film like XYZ, leave your brains at home. Why? Why can't I apply my brain even when a comedy is on? What's wrong in that?

    Coming to the eventual release of the film, don't you think that with inflow of number of movies this September, 'Bas Ek Pal' may get lost?

    'Bas Ek Pal' comes on 15th September and I don't see any other film releasing on the same day that belongs to a similar genre and is presented with the same treatment. Also my target audience is different from the films releasing during the same period.

    If you look at it, the way film industry is growing today, at any point in time you would see some or the other film clashing with yours. That's inevitable and one should just be confident of your own product. If you are not then you are dead as a film maker.

    Yes, you shouldn't be fool enough to gauge competition where there actually is. I would be stupid if I place my film next to KANK because regardless of merits or anything else, the worst part is that you won't even get the right screens for your film to be shown!

    In the hindsight 'Wo Lamhe' too releases around the same time and the titles 'Woh Lamhe' and 'Bas Ek Pal' indicate a story about moments. Will this confuse the audience?

    I don't see that happening. First and foremost what I believe is that 'Woh Lamhe' is coming 2 weeks after my film. Secondly both the films have set certain perceptions amongst the viewers who know that these two are different cinemas altogether. While actors in both the films are talented to say the least, they all have a different following amongst the viewers which should prevent any kind of confusion whatsoever.

    Just recently one read that you were not too happy with the critics and the rating. Do you wish to elaborate?

    Ya, let me talk about it and I will be specific too. Really I am confused about this entire rating business. What I perceive of reviews is that they guide people on whether to see the film or not. Now for a film like 'My Brother Nikhil' is doubly important for the reviews to state facts since one needs to understand the story the film is trying to tell.

    A film dealing with homosexuality in such a sensitive manner was first of its kinds but so-called top critics went on ask why haven't I actually given a depiction of how the lead protagonist in the film got AIDS? Did he get it through air or somewhere else? Now this is ridiculous because while telling a sensitive story like this one needs to account for number of factors.

    The film has been accepted across the globe in a major way but it is surprising to see that in India it opened to good reviews at several places but the commercial success was quite limited. What further surprises me is when a film like 'Golmaal' gets a better rating that 'My Brother Nikhil'. This shows that there is a problem somewhere!

    Please continue..

    Just because a film is made of over Rs. 20 crore budget doesn't mean that you can classify it as a commercial venture and hence ignore any liberties taken. In contrast just because a small film like 'My Brother Nikhil' has taken a sensible approach, you want to dissect it from all corners and want to search realism from end to end hence pointing out the minor most deficiency at some place or another.

    I can quote an example of 'Ahista Ahista' that just released. At some places the film has been given as low as 1/2 star rating whereas others have given it ***1/2. Am I confused? Yes truly!

    Don't you think that comments like these may go against you when the critics watch 'Bas Ek Pal'?

    I will be quite sad if something like that happens. This would just make me loose heart and then I may have to stop making the kind of films I believe in. I always tell everyone - "Go and watch my film and then comment how it is, whether it is good or bad!"

    Anything else that you have to say before signing off?

    Let me share something more with you here. While working on 'Bas Ek Pal' I realized that there was a huge excess baggage I was carrying from 'My Brother Nikhil'. I realized there and then that I would die as a film maker if I did something stereotype in an attempt to recreate something similar.

    See, 'Bas Ek Pal' is quite dark at the end of the day and for growing as a film maker I had to choose a different setup, different styling and overall a different treatment from 'My Brother Nikhil'. I am growing as a filmmaker and I am willing to make mistakes, learn from them and rectify them in my next outing.

    Yes, I am aware that some people are expecting yet another 'My Brother Nikhil' here but they may be disappointed. It is not a 'My Brother Nikhil Part II'. That's a conscious decision I have taken and if it is counted as a risk then indeed it is!


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