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The one-man team changeth...

His "Yaadein" might be a forgotten nightmare but Subhash Ghai continues to dream. This time he wants to take along a host of young directors and churn out films regularly. PANKAJ SHUKL speaks to the man prepared to look ahead... .

HIS LAST film "Yaadein" may have failed at the box office but showman Subhash Ghai is not prepared to give up. More so when he has seen these ups and downs many times in his career. Subhash Ghai does not want to talk about what has happened in the past. He merely wants to reset the rules of Bollywood, the industry that once rejected him as an actor. Insiders in Ghai's film production company Mukta Arts inform that the big man has planned his next magnum opus to be a war film set between the first and second Indo-Pak wars and tells the story of some soldiers who took part in these victorious missions of the Indian Army. The film is likely to be announced later this month.

For the past few months, Ghai has been on a signing spree. "I want to make a team now. A team of directors whose only ambition is to convert every kick of theirs into a goal. I have brought up Mukta Arts on my shoulders alone. Now I want others to join me in making the film industry work like a corporate," says a relaxed Ghai, sitting in a presidential suite of New Delhi's Hotel Crowne Plaza. Ghai happens to be one of the directors for this chain of hotels.

"At Mukta Arts we have a promise to our shareholders to give at least three films a year. In coming days we have `Ek Aur Ek Gyarah' by David Dhawan, a film by Anubhav Sinha and one film by Madhur `Chandni Bar' Bhandarkar. As I have been myself giving a film after two years, so my next film will come next year. With my film there will also be films by Abbas-Mustan and another by Anil Sharma from Mukta Arts." Incidentally, Anil Sharma is the latest entrant to Mukta Arts. This is the only project that he has signed after the stupendous success of "Gadar-Ek Prem Katha".

Though Ghai is reluctant to reveal his plans, sources close to him tell that he will be announcing his next film on his birthday. The film is set in between two wars that India waged with Pakistan and in all probability it will have Dilip Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai as lead players. This is going to be a dream project for Ghai, they add.

Whistling Woods is another dream that Ghai has been living with for past so many years. He has been here as a director for more than 25 years now after his debut film as director in 1973, "Kalicharan". "I am thankful to people who loved my work and my films all these years. It is they who have made me the man that I am today," he says with gratitude, adding "Now, it is time that I pay back the love and affection that has been showered on me for these years. It is not easy to remain in news for a quarter century and still be expected to deliver more. All this I owe to the audiences of my films. For them, my humble offering is the institute, Whistling Woods that I plan to open in the film city of Mumbai. Government of Maharastra has allotted me 20 acres of land."

Ghai has a strong feeling that time has come when everybody related to film industry should look forward to see the Indian film industry being a major and happening industry with a lot more job opportunities for the youngsters. "I wish that all the major universities of the country start teaching filmmaking and music. It is the entertainment industry that is going to change the economic scenario of this country in coming years."

Some of the actors after working in his films have attained the status of stars and many stars like Aishwarya Rai Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor became super stars with his films like "Taal", "Pardes" and "Khalnayak", etc. But, it is also history that not many of these super stars have shown eagerness to work with him again. "What can I do if a compounder of my clinic becomes doctor one day and starts his clinic right in front of my hospital. It becomes difficult when actors become producers. Then they deal with people like me on different wavelength. I have never been obsessed with the star syndrome. For me the story of my film is a bigger star. It is the plot of my film that works and not the stars," he claims.

But isn't it true that after exploiting the sentiments of the common man in films like "Kalicharan" and "Vidhaata", he chose to make films like "Pardes" and "Yaadein" that were focused on NRI heroes. He disagrees: "This is just an imagination. I don't accept this. If you see Ganga in `Pardes', she is from a middle-class family. Mansi in `Taal' is also not an NRI. Yes, I accept that this element was not in my last film `Yaadein', but I don't regret making that too. We have to change our style of narration with changing times. First people used to go from Benaras to Delhi and then from Delhi to Mumbai to get a job, now people migrate from one country to another. This changing lifestyle is reflected in today's cinema."

Subhash Ghai is touted as the showman by the media, but Ghai himself doesn't like the idea. "I don't know why they call me a showman. To me it is a very funny word."

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