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Ray of hope

A staunch Satyajit Ray fan, Shimit Amin makes his directorial debut


HE HAILS from East Africa, studied school in Los Angles and was reared up in Pune, India. Despite his bachelor's degree in Maths, he nurtured a passion for Satyajit Ray's films and he claims that he has "learnt the craft of filmmaking from his films alone." His view that there are only three great directors in Indian cinema - Mani Ratnam, Shekhar Kapoor and Ramgopal Verma, despite the fact that they were not institute-trained filmmakers - is the one that he sustains since his childhood. This is a young Shimit Amin for you, a new director on Hindi film horizon and Ramgopal Verma's latest pick for his latest production, Ab Tak Chappan. Amin is the one who edited Verma's Bhoot.

Recalls Amin on a note of nostalgia, "There was an unspoken rapport between Ramu and me when we met on the sets of Bhoot. We would endlessly discuss how a film should be made without melodrama. By the time we finished Bhoot, I was doing Ab Tak Chhappan. We consulted Daya Nayak, a much talked about person in Mumbai police, an `encounter man' as he is known there. We had various sessions with him so that the film appears closer to reality than a made-out stuff."

Shot in 56 days, the film, he claims, does not have Ramgopal Verma as a ghost director. "He did not even come to the sets."

What irritates this young director is "unrealistic, bizarre treatment meted out to commercial Hindi films. When I was in the U.S., I had a different picture of commercial Hindi cinema. Hollywood's commercial cinema is absolutely different. I thank god that I have grown up watching Satyajit Ray's films. The way he dealt with human issues, nobody has. It's a shame that most Indian video libraries do not have access to his films," moans Amin.

Tell him that Ray is little infamous for projecting poverty in India and he is all geared up to defend his favourite. "People who say that must watch all his films and more than once. They deal with human issues. Is Charulata such a film or even Pather Panchali? This film is not about poverty but about survival through the worst of problems."

Would he make such a film? "I still have a long way to go," Amin draws the line.

RANA SIDDIQUI

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