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Matters of the heart

Atul Agnihotri hopes to make a mark as a sensitive director



Atul Agnihotri: `I always wanted to make a film I could believe in.' — 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 acting in some 10-odd films such as Krantiveer, Naraaz, Gunehgaar, Hote Hote Pyar Ho Gaya and so on.

Polite man

But meet him and he comes across as a sensible human being — spontaneous, polite, dignified, focussed and intelligent. Atul Agnihotri impresses with his sober demeanour. His new pet topic is his directorial debut, Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa, starring Salman Khan, Preity Zinta and Bhumika Chawla.

"I had to generate a lot of faith among 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 I could believe in." Since he thinks, "comedy and action films have short memories", a sensitive subject was what he finally settled for.

Real life portrayal

He decided on the subject after reading some 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.

"None of the scenes in the film are just imaginary. They are taken from real incidents being mentioned in medical journals. Since the subject was sensitive, I gave ample time to my actors to sink into their roles. I did not tell them what they had to do in the next shot on the sets. Most part of direction was done off sets. This way, the actors too feel confident. Since I've been an actor, I knew what goes on 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 Mrityudand 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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