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Socially concerned

Film-makers have to be socially responsible, says Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who is concerned about the alarming pollution levels in cities today


VIDHU VINOD Chopra is playing twin roles as a film-maker and a crusader taking up the cause of pollution. "I make the films I believe in," he says emphatically. His Munnabhai M.B.B.S. is a super hit and has sent cash registers ringing at the B.O. Chopra attributes this to his director Rajkumar (Raju) Hirani with whom he co-wrote the script. But right now Chopra is worried about pollution - which was writ on his face when he came to Hyderabad to meet people on this issue.

"I can't see the sea when I get up even though my house is sea-facing. I have two young children and I shudder to think what their future will be," says a concerned Chopra, whose dream is to reduce the alarming pollution levels in cities like Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. His dream project is to introduce hybrid electric buses on the streets. "I met the Governor of Tamil Nadu who told me that Hyderabad has a large fleet of buses on the road which are spewing carbon particles all around. I also spoke to the Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit regarding this. We are also meeting people in Mumbai. CNG is not the final answer to bring down pollution levels."

"The hybrid electric bus is the transport of the future. There is 60-70 per cent less emission and 65-70 per cent of fuel can be saved too. It has been tested in U.S.A., Europe and Brazil. So I want to see it introduced on the roads in the cities I mentioned. It can be fabricated in the country and need not be imported."

This bus has been developed by Subash Dhar, Chairman and CEO International Business and Technology Management LLC. "It will not just improve quality of life but is good business as well - a viable proposition," chips in Dhar, who is meeting various individuals along with Chopra to advocate the cause.

Chopra firmly believes that film-makers have a social responsibility as well. His films combine entertainment with an issue (be it Mission Kashmir or Parinda or even the latest Munnabhai). "In Munnabhai the main thrust was to tell doctors to be better human beings - be more affectionate and caring. So we put the message across and quite a few doctors have appreciated that. Film-makers should feel the responsibility and it is important for every film-maker to be socially conscious."

In fact the duo of Chopra and Hirani are working on their next project - a sequence to Munnabhai M.B.B.S., which in all probability will be titled Munnabhai B.A.,L.L.B. which will focus on the lawyers and the legal profession. "It will be a satire on the legal system where we will try to tell the lawyers not to squeeze money through the character of a honest non-lawyer." Definitely the expectations will be high on account of the stupendous success of Munnabhai M.B.B.S.

Since Chopra makes the films he believes in it takes him time to make films. Moreover, he is fastidious as a film-maker - right from the stage of the script to the final product. "The desire to excel" ticks the creative impulse in him. He does not like to be a producer but lands up being one, as "nobody will produce the films I believe in. Given a choice, I like to write and direct."

Chopra is planning a film Yagna with Amitabh Bachchan. "It's too early to talk about it" and so does not divulge much. Another project of Chopra's is Parineeta, which will be made by another close associate Pradeep Sarkar.

Anything can stimulate Chopra to make a film. "Once I saw this beautiful shikara on the Dal Lake and I just imagined what would happen if it blasts and the whole story of Mission Kashmir was woven around it." (The first scene of the film shows the shikara blown to smithereens.) Chopra prefers to co-write scripts as he "likes to bounce ideas, talking to people and hates loneliness."

Chopra introduced the Dolby system with his 1942-A Love Story a decade ago and is all for digitalisation of cinema. "It is the future. It is taking time but we are moving in the right direction."

Chopra is brimming with ideas and issues but pollution is close to his heart and foremost in his mind right now.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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