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Matters of heart



Atul Agnihotri... The promise of an epic one day. Photo: R.V. Moorthy.

HE HAS been sidelined by the film industry and many in the audiences may have dismissed him as a wooden actor. This despite making his debut in Mahesh Bhatt's Sir in 1993 and then some 10 films from Krantiveer, to Naraaz, to Gunehgaar, Hote Hote Pyar Ho Gaya and so on, but he comes across as a sensible human being, spontaneous, polite, dignified, focussed and intelligent. Atul Agnihotri impresses with his sober demeanour. His answers leave little scope for one to take him for granted. He is in New Delhi to speak about his directorial debut Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa, starring Salman Khan, Preity Zinta and Bhumika Chawla slated to release this Friday.

"I had to generate a lot of faith among the people to assure them that this film will move you, make you laugh and cry and set you thinking. I was ready with everything before approaching the producer, even sets and shots. People did think that because I have been a bad actor, I am taking a plunge into direction to save my face. But actually I started as an assistant to Pankaj Parashar for four years. And I always wanted to make a film which I could believe in." Since he thinks, "comedy and action films have short memories" a sensitive subject was what he zeroed down on.

Real life portrayal

Conviction he had in this idea, which was mooted after he read certain medical journals and books. In the film he defines as a "soul-stirring journey of human love and conflict," he talks about a heart ailment Bhumika is suffering from and how despite growing weaker, she copes with life, cheerfully. He talks about a married man, played by his brother-in-law Salman Khan, his sensitivity towards two ladies and the vibrancy exuded by Preity Zinta despite a disease forming its backdrop.

"None of the scenes in the film are just imaginary acts. They are taken from real incidents being mentioned in medical journals, and happened in peoples' lives. Since the subject was sensitive, I gave ample time to my actors to sink in, take for instance, I did not narrate them what they had to do in next shot on the sets. Most part of direction was done off sets. This way the actors too feel confident. Since I myself had been an actor, I knew what goes in the mind when a director directs you on the sets and expects you to give the best shot instantly."

And guess what this sensible man who also acted in a few TV serials including Mritydand and Tanha, is jealous of? "I feel envious of people who can source episodes and characters from history. This has been my earnest desire to make an epic film. One day... ." he promises.

RANA SIDDIQUI

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