In the film industry, if there is one film maker apart from Ram Gopal Varma who seldom defends his film if it isn't well made and is quick to accept his failures, it is Vikram Bhatt. It is this endearing quality of his which makes him far more humane than most of his ilk. Straight forward sans any hint of artificial/for the effect quotes/anecdotes, Vikram Bhatt comes out in open in this heart to heart chat with Joginder Tuteja.
Last week saw the release of Speed which was directed by you. This week your production Mumbai Salsa arrives.
[Laughs] Yeah, For a change I am nervous since I believe Mumbai Salsa is a well made film. Director Manoj Tyagi has told a good story by making the narrative extremely naughty. The film is very urban, very today with elements like one night stands, youngsters hanging out, the works. The film explores a new idiom altogether. The film's music has been a success too and I know people are looking forward to seeing the film. But Vikram, do you agree that last few years constitute for a crazy phase in your career?
Absolutely. I was working on 2-3 films a year. I was also doing a lot of Hollywood remakes. Some work, quite a few didn't. Still, you should note that all my films released this year like Speed, Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi and Red were finished way back. It was November last year when I finished shooting all these films and since then I took a break to re-assess the kind of films I wanted to make.
But it seemed to be a Catch 22 situation for Speed?
True. Some felt it was yet another film from me this year; hence they didn't go for it. Others felt it was stale due to number of times the film's release date was announced. No wonder, audience was disinterested. Nevertheless, I am happy that with Speed, my bad run seems to have ended. It was one of those excess baggage that you need to get rid of before starting life afresh. Now that all these films have come and gone, there can only be a way up. Things should brighten up with Mumbai Salsa.
You seem to have taken the poor reviews and bad opening in your stride.
I am not surprised at all. Speed was strictly OK at maximum and was a film which we just managed to complete. There were so many things that went wrong in it's making and we somehow just managed to patch it up together. There were many compromises that went into it's making.
The film suffered mainly as it continued to get delayed month after month. Zayed fell ill, later he had to travel for his world tour, Aftab was suffering from a bad back, things like that. Later everyone got busy with their own things and the maximum we could do was put together things somehow and take it to the finishing line.
The entire Prime Minister assassination angle got quite some flak. Couldn't it have been better thought of?
Actually, there were much bigger things planned for this segment of the film. We had to compromise on the casting stage itself. I had wanted someone like Hema Malini or Rakhi Gulzar for playing the PM in the film but had to settle down for Suhasini Mulay. The entire climax conference sequence, one of the most crucial to the film, was very well written but due to reasons beyond control we barely managed to shoot it with limited resources available.
Ditto in the end where all we could show was Aftab getting crushed under a chandelier. On the paper, it was a much elaborate sequence in a banquet hall. No, I am not at all trying to defend the product here. All I am saying is that I agree the final outcome was not up to the mark though I am sure it could have been much better presented.
Do you feel that the film's producer could have been a better help?
Sometimes a film suffers just because of certain unfortunate incidents. Speed is one of them. There is no reason to blame Harry Baweja. He did what he could. In the end he too had to get the film on screens and he was right in doing so with what all we had in hands.
You do agree that 'Speed' as a film lost out due to certain reasons. But how about numerous other films of yours in the past that haven't clicked at the box office?
It would be foolhardy on my part to say that all my films were good but they suffered due to different reasons. Of course I have made some bad films and some good films. I feel Aetbaar was good but it lost out due to Khakee coming on the same day. Ankahee was good. It was some sensitive cinema. Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi was a nice film too though audience were left confused due as promos didn't tell them what to expect.
How about the films which you believe were actually bad?
Footpath was not a good film. In fact even Deewane Huye Paagal was bad. And when I say bad, I talk strictly from directorial point of view rather than anything else associated with the film. Yes, Inteha was bad too!
On a low like this, does Vikram Bhatt see himself going up from here?
I guess I did a whole lot of good to myself by taking a break. I started speaking to different writers, meeting up people, forming my own production house with like minded people. These are people who understand this business; the commerce part. They are also film financers so that know the economics here. As a Creative Director here, I look at all the stages of film making.
What happens to the director in you?
I have already started shooting for 1920, a film which I can call as one of my most passionate piece of work ever. It is a film with newcomers and I am planning a big launch for them. It is a period romantic horror film which would require us to recreate Mumbai, Delhi and Mussorie for the era gone by. I am looking at mid-2008 release for 1920.