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There are no full stops

Mahesh Bhatt is constantly in the process of creating something different


HE HAS walked the `bohemian' terrain through his life undeterred. His films like Arth, Janam and Naam have bordered on the autobiographical - highlighting narratives from his personal life. Mahesh Bhatt, the enfant terrible, lives life on his own terms openly. His oeuvre covering three decades spans films - commercial and away from the stereotypical format. This thinker, writer, film-maker and documentary film-maker who articulates on a variety of contemporary issues was in Hyderabad to promote Murder, a film from the Bhatt house directed by Anurag Basu.

"According to me the title Murder is deceptive. It is in the idiom of an erotic thriller. At its core it takes a look at interpersonal relationships, which are changing after globalisation and communication revolution. Young India is getting more permissive and people like me with alternate morality 25 years ago were abhorrents. Now things have changed. Murder deals with "the solitary confinement a woman faces after marriage where the heroine indulges in an affair. The film provides an answer."

Bhatt is one who seeks constant change. He is now looking across the border. He has signed Pakistani actress Meera in a film, set in the future to be directed by his wife Soni Razdan. A love story revolving around a Hindu fundamentalist and a tawaif is another project. Regarding the association with Pakistan on the film front Bhatt frankly says: "too much noise is being made - there is a desire to work with each other. One has to take time out to remove biases and suspicion and there should be more commitment to scale down hostility. There is a great love for Indian cinema in Pakistan, which is light years ahead of Pakistani cinema. And cinema there seems to be caught in a time warp, as it is still technologically inferior and regressive in content.

On the experimentation in Hindi films Bhatt reacts "I am not enamoured of surface dazzle. Deep down we have not moved away. There is blockbuster mentality. Everybody wants a lottery - ride on the blockbuster. Every one wants to scale familiar territory - unless they are irreverent, audacious and radically different, there will be no quantum difference. The nature is to oscillate and then to conform. To revolt and not to conform to the status quo is to be upheld," says Bhatt, who has stuck to this path. "I was born this way. People ask me why aren't you resting. I have no goal, yet have this feeling of unfulfilled discontentment. I feel nature of life is to demolish and reinvent. As children I remember building sand castles on the beach. When they were washed away by the wave we would build again. I have this inexhaustible energy and deep restlessness, which converts into articles, books, speeches, films. Nature of life is to go on, there are no full stops." Bhatt feels he has stepped into life - walking out of the virtual bubble into the real. "Real issues are now important than bedroom drama." He has made documentaries on the drought in Rajasthan, HIV, Nagaland and interacting with people from all parts of the country.

Like every father he is happy with daughter Pooja's debut as a director. "She has come full circle." He is unhappy that Paap did not run. "People were expecting Jism II. The conflict of the nun in the story was too tame and was for a niche audience." But he says he advised her "to take failure in her stride."

Reading is his lifeline. And one sees Shashi Tharoor's book on Nehru beside him. "I want to read about people who have lived life - autobiographies, biographies and current affairs."

His face lights up when he mentions U.G. Krishnamurthy and the book he's writing titled Bread and Hot Water (about 100 days with UG and other experiences). "He's the breath of my breath and the blood of my life. He is the one who told there's nothing wrong with me. I discuss every thing with him."

He narrates a story idea - a Muslim girl whose husband is picked up by American intelligence in Dubai. When he does not come home the wife has to lock horns with the mightiest power. Her family abandons her... that is maverick Mahesh Bhatt - constantly thinking, evolving and creating.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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