What is ‘No Smoking’ all about?
‘No Smoking’ is a strange movie. It is ‘Eternal Sunshine’ meets ‘Kafka meets something else. It’s a film without a reference point. It is difficult to define it. It’s very difficult to explain. After it comes out people will say that this film is like ‘No Smoking’.
How did you opt for John Abraham?
I didn’t zero in on John Abraham just like that. I went to a lot of people. John was the first guy who completely understood my script and said yes there and then.
The title ‘No Smoking’ is very censor friendly….
No, it’s not just censor friendly. That has to be the title of the film. Either ‘No Smoking’ or Cigarette smoking is injurious to health or smoking kills. That has to be the title of the film.
I saw you act very well in the play ‘Sir Sir Sarla Part 111’…Why not films?
Its different acting on stage and very different from acting in films. I can do anything on stage but I can’t pose for a still camera, forget a moviecam.
What kind of directors have appealed to you?
Many yaar. Scorcese, Fellini, David Fincher, Ram Gopal Verma, Mani Rathnam, Guru Dutt, Bala from South, Bharathan…There’s a wide variety.
How much you learnt from RGV and Mani Rathnam?
I learnt a lot from both of them. I call Mani Sir Mani Sir. Ramu is a great support.
What was your role in Guru?
I started working in Guru. We did something, locked the thing. When Mani went to shoot in Turkey, he decided to change a few things. I was not there. I had to go to US. I couldn’t have postponed my trip, so I decided to back out.
What do you think about ‘Guru’ now?
I think Mani has done a great job with the film. But there could have been more. And that’s a creative difference. He thinks its right and it is his prerogative.
What were the differences?
I felt that there should have been more of ‘Guru’s life rather than the love story while Mani felt there should be more of love story than Guru’s life. So, these are two different point of views. It’s a discussion that we will have.
What about Ram Gopal Verma?
Ram Gopal Verma is a genius. I’ve learnt so much from him. It’s just sad that what he is doing now. I don’t like it at all. I haven’t liked his last three four films. Last film that I liked was ‘Company’. I know what he is capable of. I know he is a man who can come back any time. I am hoping a lot from ‘Nishabd’ That’s a film I have high hopes from.
You want to work with Mr Bachchan but he doesn’t wish to work with you?
I want to work with him but he wouldn’t work with me. He won’t experiment with me.
What about actors like SRK, Aamir Khan?
I want to work with all these people. I don’t have a problem working with Shahrukh. He had the script of ‘No Smoking’ for quite some time but then he didn’t have time. I keep talking to Aamir for projects. Till something work out, it’s a wish list.
Was ‘Lallan’ your idea in ‘Yuva’?
The basic character was from Mani Rathnam. But when the character became North Indian, then I took over. I did my own things, gave him a name, his background. Whenever there’s a character from North India, I have a lot of fun.
I read one of your features where you talked about how star children like Abhishek Bachchan have things on a platter. Then you reinvented him in ‘Yuva’.
Film industry is a strange place. Everybody used to run down Abhishek Bachchan. I had a lot of faith in him then. I used to say that he is good. After ‘Yuva’ suddenly everybody made Abhishek Bachchan into a great actor which also he is not. He is not as great as an actor as he is being made out to be. He was never a bad actor as they put him down.
What about Mr Bachchan saying that Abhishek is better than him?
That’s a desperate cry. The industry is laughing at them behind the backs. Everybody is laughing at them. That kind of hypocrisy is prevalent in the industry. It’s up to him if he can’t separate hypocrisy from honesty. That’s his problem. That poster where he said that ‘I will watch ‘Guru’ 100 times’ was a joke. Amitabh Bachchan doesn’t need to do that. He is worshipped in this country. It’s a shame these things have happened.