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    "Our Industry has been bitten by the 100 crore club" - Mahesh Bhatt

    Saturday, August 25, 2012
    Mahesh Bhatt the director who has given us films like Arth and Saaransh is now busy churning out sequels right from Raaz to his latest Jannat. The director talks about making brands that the consumer is interested in. In an in depth interview with indiaglitz, Mahesh talks about the response to Jism his interest in making sequels and the new formed Bollywood 100 crore club..

    Do you have to say anything on why Jism didn't do well at the box office? There have been reports that the audience did not get what they expected in the film?

    I know it has not met the consumer's expectation. We made a film with a porn star maybe they expected to see more than what we gave them. It was not a conservative film how can I when chose a porn star as an actress. I think I gave a porn star the status of Mary Magdalene and Amrapali and the audience didn't like it. They said strip her and I was covering her up. Unfortunately our industry has been bitten by the 100 crore club today which is an artificial construction. I know the truth of this 100 crore market which is whipped by the so called paid media hype . Like the horizon does not exist, the 100 crore club too does not exist. There are films in the history of Indian cinema which made into that bracket but they are very few. Here's a transparent dealing, we made a film with 15 crores and we have made over 21.5 crores on the first day. It has astounded people and has made 26.5 crores over the weekend. It was not a conservative film. It's a closed chapter and Pooja is enjoying as she has made more money than any other multinational film.

    Vishesh films has been churning out sequels of Jannat, Murder, Raaz, Jism and now Aashiqui. How long will you cash on it?

    It's the age of Brand worshipping. It's the age where reality and consumer confidence tucks from the ground into their psychological confidence. When the consumer tells us what they want the distributors come to us and say gives us Raaz 3. First weekend decides our destiny. It's all about the first three days and how much we make today. We are assured of the forty percent profit also. At the same time there is the danger of the first three days deciding our destiny. Why should we put an end to such films which give us our money's worth?

    Will we never see good films like Arth or Saaransh from you ever again?

    Tell me who will watch these films now. The death of director Mahesh Bhatt ended in the 80's. Every film is a bi-product of time. In this age when people watch films on cell phones and Ipads who will watch a film like Arth or Saaransh. Even Jism 2 is called low budget. The generation is impatient and always on the edge. It is of the 20-20 cricket sensibility. They don't want to watch a one day match now. They need instant gratification and hedonistic pleasures. How can I make a film which is not mainstream? I tried doing films like Blood Money and Dhoka but they said it was slow and boring I got themes which are engaging the complexities of the heart. It is history now. I tried to gravitate towards such film and burnt my fingers repeatedly. I tried making films on real India some somber, serious stuff. Who would be interested to watch such films on a Sunday evening?

    But there has to be an end to the kind of sequels being made?

    Why should there be an end. I have my social concerns; I am going to Assam to fight for the minority. When I make a Dhoka which was about the state against the Minority no one sees it. They are the pleasure consuming generation. It's a consumerism age. I am not here to stir Indian cinema. I am not a social reformer. Why don't you ask Akshay Kumar who makes a Rowdy Rathore this question? I have made my share of cinema. I see at this age and times the kind of cinema as we see it. The day I stop making money for my organization I am finished. Stars charge so much why because they ensure that money and they get their percentage. We are like prostitutes. How are we different? You only give a percentage of what you make for the establishment you are working for. You have to make money. Sometimes we succeed but most of the times we fail. But when we over produce the chances of failing is less.

    You have often said that cinema is a product why? Are you trying to say that because of the content we have in Indian cinema?

    I am not justifying the content of Indian cinema not touching its depth. A consumer is party to a product he chooses. I believed at the beginning of my journey that it was a piece of art. Now I know it's a product. I burnt my money trying to understand that.

    Heard that you signed Jacqueline Fernandes for the film first?

    Yes she had certain reservations about the scenes as it had some amount of erotic. She was reluctant and asked for some changes but then it would have jeopardized the film so we parted amicably.

    Was it necessary to have a big name for the film, Was it conscious hype?

    We needed a glamorous face. We have taken the space of bollywood that everybody is enchanted with. As we know the reality of fierce competition that exists in film stars. We know their appetite to stay here forever once they have tasted the dizzying heights. The inevitability of the arc lights fading off is something that haunts them. The first tremor of failure takes them into a tizzy and that is when they go desperate. They want results. You see them on the first release they go to every temple and every shrine. So there are people who pray to the devil. It's the same form how in our case we are using evil for desires. There have been instances where people have killed each other for rivalry. There are big names that have been shot down because of rivalry. Political lust is a part of rivalry. Your appetite for eternal power makes you do these evil things. We have impossible objectives through set up a goal which is not possible so we use devious means. Here we have put a story which coincides with Bipasha's life. Ten years later she is not comfortable or safe as she was earlier.

    Do you believe in Black magic yourself?

    I do believe. Our traditions speak about evil. There's evil in every religion. In Christianity there is Satan, in Islam it's the Shaitan. Our grandmothers told us stories about devils. In this scientific age we may not believe in it. So if there is God there must be fear and evil too. If I believe in God I am modern otherwise I am outdated.

    How realistic is this film?

    We have brought reality through Vikram's story. When he came to us he was very vulnerable he had come out with a traumatized relationship with an actor. When Shagufta was writing he brought out his own experiences and references. It was not to malign the girl. How his girlfriend threw a fit in the middle of the night when she was losing her stardom. We have brought it out in a simple form of entertainment. It's the age old feel of the good and the evil.

    This is the third film of a heroine facing downfall it's the same premise?

    I had made a film called Arth and then at the same time there was a film called Silsila being made with Amitabh Bachchan's, Rekha and Jaya Bachchan. Everyone told me that a film is being made on real life love story and the songs were shot in Holland and who would watch my film with Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. If you put your lived truth into anything the narrative stands out. But Arth went on to make history. Dirty Picture was about a girl who wants to make it. This is the story of a girl who is dead and to what lengths she will go to retain her fame.

    What was the thought of making it into 3D?

    Vikram Bhatt understands 3D like nobody else. He is the best in Asia I am saying it with responsibility. When John Haig the special effects director who worked on films like Avatar saw the effects he was amazed. He was staggered by what we had achieved in India at the cost of one thousand of what they do. The craftsmanship that he has used. Unlike 3 D which you have seen this is real 3D. He has explored this medium like never before. It's just an ornament. 3D makes bad things worse and good things very good. It will only amplify what you have it can't conceal.


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