India and Pakistan?" - Punit Malhotra, Director of I Hate Luv Storys
By Hani Taha Salim
In recent years Bollwood's given rise to many a fresh talent and consequently to what may be termed as 'youth films' with productions such as Jab we Met, Love Aaj Kal, Wake up Sid and 3 idiots that are a far cry from the dancing in the rain Bollywood sequences. Such films are a strong indication of the maturity and growth that Indian cinema has achieved in creating entertainment that is also commercially viable. Instep Today decides to speak to one such director from this young brood, Punit Malhotra, as he rides the wave of success from his debut release I Hate Luv Storys, of what it takes to make the 'cut' for fresh blood in Bollywood.
Instep Today: Tell us about yourself and how you got into films?
Punit Malhotra: Born and brought up in Mumbai... I am a typical Mumbai boy. My maternal grandfather (Shri Ram Dayal Sabharwal, in fact he had a very special connection with Pakistan and visited the country very often as he had close friends there. As a matter of fact my great grand father was the first man to make a film in Pakistan, Deewan Sardari Lal) was a film producer and I was one of those quintessential filmy kids. Films were always on my mind even as a kid. I was always sure that I wanted to be part of this world... I didn't know in what capacity. Then came along my strongest influence Manish (Malhotra, the famous fashion designer). Manish and I stayed together and were part of the same joint family. I worked with him for three days where Karan spotted me and asked me to assist him on Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham hence began my journey. Apart from that I did a lot of modeling.
Instep Today: Is Imran's character in the film and his role as an aspiring director reflective of you and your struggles in any way?
PM: Imran's character has nothing to do with me in the macro picture. We did pick up nuances and minor incidents that helped me weave the story and screenplay better but otherwise it's completely fictional. Imran's character is more like any other boy who is brought up in today's day and age, someone whose whole take on life and love is very practical. I know of a few assistant directors who have had to go through the same insane hardships that Imran goes through, some of them being rather hilarious instances.
Instep Today: Do you hate love stories with as much a passion as Imran's character?
PM: It's again a question that I've been asked again and again. No I don't hate love stories like Imran's character does. But yes, I definitely don't believe in them. I think "love" in today's day and age doesn't exist. I don't know of any couple and I mean it, who have a pure relationship. I do think that love today comes with its share of complications and what really exists between two people is just a relationship with compromises and not love. I sound mad but my take is not that harsh.
Instep Today: What kind of films do you like?
PM: I like all kinds of films. I've grown up watching all films, be it action, drama, romance, comedy, whatever. Currently I am re watching the entire Rocky series. Don't be surprised if I end up making an action film next.
Instep Today: The film seems to lampoon Dharma's own production ethos. How did that go down with Karan?
PM: I pretty much had my heart in my mouth when I was pitching the subject to Karan. I was wondering how he would react to the whole thing but I have to give it him. He was simply too sporting. He took everything in his stride, gave me a huge budget and even got me other permissions so yes, he was very good though I still get an occasional taunt but all in good humour.
Instep Today: How are young directors like yourself seeking to make a 'cut' in Bollywood?
PM: I don't think it's such a conscious effort in any way. It just that the audiences have become more receptive of newer ideas and that's directly related to what Bollywood offers. Since these new ideas and cutting edge cinema is being accepted it just gives everyone the liberty to speak their mind. And the young blood definitely comes with their own mind and sensibility. I think all that helps them being noticed.
Instep Today: What kind of films do you hope to make? Any upcoming projects?
PM: As of now it's just been 10 days since IHLS released. I am off to America for a holiday I want to clear my mind off everything, wipe the slate clean. Will come back and decide what I am making next. All I can say is that its going be with Karan so be prepared for something fun.
Instep Today: What do you think of the Aman Ki Asha initiative? (I know that we have pretty defunct film industry at the moment, but a few independent production houses with young blood are cropping up) Would you like to venture into an alliance or co-produce a film with talent from Pakistan?
PM: I think it's simply superb that talent from across the border is coming together. World over artists from different countries come together so why not between India and Pakistan? What's interesting is the young blood that looks at creativity beyond all the differences. I think it's a very healthy trend and it's completely in the hands of the youth from both countries to take it further. That's exactly what's happening and it's only healthy.
As far as I am concerned I would love to associate with someone from Pakistan. In fact we did work with Shaqat Amanat Ali on perhaps my most famous song 'Bin Tere' and the results are there for everyone to see.
Instep Today: Have you ever been to Pakistan? Would you like to come over and visit your ancestral home or make a film here perhaps?
PM: Both my paternal and maternal grandparents are from Pakistan. Unfortunately I haven't been able to visit the country. The furthermost I have gone is till the Wagah Border but would love to come there some day and see what it's like. I know that my grand father has some really close contacts and he was even felicitated with a shawl when he was there.
Instep Today: You have already worked with two of Bollywood's most promising stars, Imran and Sonam in your debut film. Which actors are you hoping to work with next? Which young and seasoned actors excite you most as a new generation director?
PM: I really need to wait and write my script first. It really depends on who we get to do casting for my next film. It could be anyone. And its almost unfair for me to take one particular name... there is so much young talent around and its still early days in everyone's career. So I guess time will tell. By the way while we are at it I saw Ali Zafar's film last night that's young talent to watch out for!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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