By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Nov 23 (IANS) Prolific director Subhash Ghai, who is introducing a new hero in his forthcoming film "Black and White", believes there is a dearth of fresh talent in Bollywood.
"The Mumbai film industry is definitely starved of new talent, especially for the main roles," Ghai told IANS in an interview.
He feels that corporate houses, which pay exorbitant amounts of money to established actors, aggravate the problem."Though the industry is expanding rapidly, the high price being paid by corporate companies to current stars is alarming. This will result in very high production costs with no guarantee of good returns," he said.
The director, who discovered stars like Jackie Shroff, Manisha Koirala and Madhuri Dixit, says he selects new actors on the basis of credentials. Anurag Sinha, the actor making his debut with "Black and White", is a diploma holder from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
"We've cast seven diploma holders who worked for two years in an institute before they approached producers for roles. I respect that. We would like to make movies on the strength of scripts and directors and suitable, good actors," Ghai said.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What happened to your project called "Black or White", which you were directing?
A: I am introducing a new hero, Anurag Sinha. He is a trained actor and diploma holder from the FTII. Anil Kapoor plays the stellar role in the film. The film is titled "Black and White" and is a small budget movie under Mukta Searchlight. I'm also directing a big-budget movie with Salman Khan.
Q: What were the criteria for selecting these projects? Were they selected with an eye on new talent? If so, do you think Bollywood is starved of new talent?
A: The Mumbai film industry is definitely starved of new talent, especially for the main roles. Though the industry is expanding rapidly, the high prices being paid by corporate companies to current stars is alarming. This will result in very high production costs with no guarantee of good returns. Most of the stars are producers themselves and now they will produce for these corporate companies.
Q: So what's the solution?
A: It's a change we need to accept and find our own ways to make hit movies. I admire Sanjay Leela Bhansali as he's introducing more new stars to the industry. We at Mukta too select talent on the basis of credentials. That's why we've cast seven diploma holders who worked for two years in an institute before they approached producers for roles. I respect that. We would like to make movies on the strength of scripts and directors and suitable, good actors.
Q: What about your own directorial venture? Why haven't you directed anything since "Kisna"?
A: I started the Whistling Woods Film and Multi Media Institute. It had to get my full attention. It was a question of the future of young ones joining the institute, so I wanted it to be perfect and equal to the best in the world. It was like directing 10 films at one time.
Q: You've discovered great talent like Jackie Shroff, Manisha Koirala and Madhuri Dixit. Why haven't we seen such talent emerge from Mukta Arts in recent times?
A: Talents are recognised by the commercial success of a movie. Actors become stars because of hit movies and hit movies depend on great scripts. I keep trying to encourage and groom new stars, so I'm introducing many new talents in my new projects.
Q: You've produced admirable off-mainstream films like "Iqbal" and "Joggers Park". Do you think there's a sizeable audience for them in this country?
A: Good films always have an audience provided they are made within a targeted budget. We had a good taste of success in "Jogger's Park" and "Iqbal" because they were low-cost films based on excellent concepts.