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The same old bond

ZIYA US SALAM

Almost half a decade into filmmaking and Khalid Mohamed is still searching for his first hit. Will "Silsiilay" do the trick?

He has never given us a super duper hit. And from evidence on offer, he is unlikely to in a hurry. But give Khalid Mohamed some credit. Less than half a decade in Bollywood, and with no blockbuster to his credit, he has carved out his own niche. He has made his films his own way. Some critics have found his work lacking mass appeal. Some brazen ones have even asked why does he talk only of Muslims in his films.

Well, Khalid, now happy that his third film as director, "Silsiilay" is kissing the silver screen this Friday, has his reasons. And with them exposes the shortcomings of the media where one rule applies to one man, quite another to another. "Nobody has asked Yash Chopra why he makes only romantic musicals? Why ask me if my films centre around a Muslim character? I use a Muslim voice to speak. That is my voice. Why should a Muslim be only on the fringes in a film either singing romantic songs or taking to arms? Why cannot he be a normal protagonist?" Indeed why?

That we will save for another day in an industry which quells dissent and thrives on stereotypes. For the moment, Khalid is happy. Happy that finally he has got a chance to work with Tabu, a kind of wish fulfilment. And that the film after some delays is finally being released.

"I was supposed to make a thriller set in London. Before that I was going to make this small budget film. Vashu Bhagnani liked the story and agreed to produce it. We had our discussion but during production he was not there. He was there at the time of editing though. He gave some suggestions, some inputs."

And Tabu, who makes a comeback of sorts to the big screen after M.F. Husain's "Meenaxi", came and went early last year?

"It was a wish fulfilment to work with her. I wanted to work with her in Shyam Benegal's `Zubeidaa'. I spoke to her for `Tehzeeb' too. She is like my surrogate daughter. I went to the U.S. where she was holidaying and offered her two roles. She opted for the Muslim housewife. She plays the second wife of a guy here. The role has no resemblance to `Astitva'."

So has "Silsiilay" shaped up the way he wanted?

"The idea was not to make a blockbuster. I wanted to make a film with certain sensibility. I made a film with people I was comfortable with. I think of people as actors, not stars. And everyone, including Natasha suited the role. The bottom-line is, the producer should get his money back with film. That was the case with `Tehzeeb' too."

So the same old Silsiilay of making films that appeal to the senses and not necessarily the box office continues.

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