The name Sudhir Mishra immediately transports you to a world of Hindi cinema that is truly and refreshingly different. The director has always been known for his unique style of story-telling in hard-hitting films like Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Chameli and his last release Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. Now in an exclusive interview with IndiaFM, he talks about his upcoming film Khoya Khoya Chand , its various characters and how the film takes a look at the wild world of cinema in the 50’s and 60’s.Khoya Khoya Chand is your next release after the much-acclaimed Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. How do you feel the movie has turned out?
I feel very good. I love the work of a lot of people in the film. A lot of my films have been very dependent on me like Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. That film depended on me because I knew the background; I knew the politics of that era. There were very few people in my unit who knew that period well so it was not possible without me but in Khoya Khoya Chand there are a lot of other people who have worked very hard and contributed.
Could you tell us something about the film Khoya Khoya Chand ?
It’s a film about two young people caught in the wild world of cinema in the 50’s and 60’s. It’s about being creative, its about the various problems, its about sexual politics, its about being young and ambitious and its about making mistakes. It’s about getting together when the fires and sexual passions of youth mellow a bit and how you get together again may be later in more peace and serenity. It’s about dying and about a girl who says to her man in the end that “Take me away and kill me. I don’t care if I die but I have to work.” That is the whole idea of the film.
Very often people categorize your work as offbeat, parallel or Art House cinema. Does Khoya Khoya Chand fit in the same genre or is it an out and out commercial flick?
I think it is very gripping film and I think it is a very emotional and romantic film. The idea of two people dying together is a romantic idea. It is a very passionate and sensuous film.
The movie was earlier titled Bahut Nikle Mere Armaan. What made you change the title to Khoya Khoya Chand? Does the new title signify anything more important with respect to the film?
No, I changed the title because people thought it was a sequel to Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. Bahut Nikle Mere Armaan is from the same couplet as Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. However, it has nothing to do with Hazaron... That was a political film, this is a film about suffocating in ecstasy.
Shiney of course has worked with you before in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. What made you select Soha Ali Khan to play the lead role?
Soha plays a girl whose character goes through various phases. It’s a very complicated character. I required an actress who could express certain vulnerability of a heroine of that era, the stardom, the poise and I think she is fantastic. Which other actor will give up three months for a film, prepare and come with 100 percent commitment and dedication. This is her debut in the sense because for the first time, she has done the Cabaret, the Mujra, the piano song , sword fight , horse riding and all the work required of a star during that era. I truly believe this will be Soha’s breakthrough film.
Could you tell us a little bit about Shiney’s character in the film?
Shiney plays a cocky, arrogant writer. He doesn’t know the norms of the industry so he breaks them. He breaks rules but he is supremely talented. How he enters Soha’s world and their complicated journey together is what the film is all about.
Soniya Jehan, granddaughter of the legendary Noor Jehan, is also seen in your film? Could you tell us a little about her role?
She plays this hysterical superstar of that era. She is full of tantrums, a real self obsessed character and I think she does it so sportingly and naturally that it is amazing.
Who are some of the other actors in the film and a little bit about their roles?
Rajat Kapoor is there in a wonderful role as the tall, Punjabi superstar. Rajat has grabbed this opportunity because usually he is given only one type of serious roles in most films whereas here he is this guy who has style, flair and yet keeps questioning himself, “Why Do I sleep around with so many women?”. Vinay Pathak is fantastic and you will be very surprised with his part as his character takes on a very different dimension in the end. Initially, you think he is the hero’s friend. Saurabh Shukla in the role of a producer is also outstanding. So it’s quite a cast that I have.
The music of the film has a very Gharana / Classical feel to it. Do you think people accept such music these days?
The music is outstanding. Why won’t they like the songs? The title track is great, it’s the No.2 downloaded song. If you promote it more, it will become a bigger hit. I have worked on the music and I’d like to say that, I don’t know why people say that only certain commercial filmmakers know how to work on music but if you say the name, Sudhir Mishra, people don’t usually talk of music. But you see Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Chameli, Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, and now Khoya Khoya Chand, have some of the better quality lyrics in Indian cinema. Also, each one of them has its own style of music e.g. Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin was by M. M.Kreem , Chameli by Sandesh Shandilya and Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi and Khoya Khoya Chand by Shantanu Moitra.
The Shantanu Moitra and Swanand Kirkire musician- lyricist combo is back after Parineeta, Lage Raho Munnabhai. What made you choose the two of them?
I introduced the two of them, in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi .Please don’t take it in the wrong sense but I think Sudhir Mishra is not given any credit in cinema. People nowadays talk about the gangster genre and Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya. Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin was made two years before Satya. I have nothing against RGV but I think he is just mimicking me. I think people who did the work first should be given credit. Swanand Kirkire’s first lyrics are with me…he was my assistant in Chameli, Calcutta Mail and even Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. I introduced him as a lyric writer. Also, Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi is Shantanu’s first full fledged film. So in a way you choose people whom you have worked with, whom you like to work with and I love both of them. Swanand and Shantanu both are truly amazing.
Swanand Kirkire also played small cameos in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi and Eklavya. Is he also acting in Khoya Khoya Chand?
In this movie, he was there but his role got cut.
Making period films involves a lot of research and detailing? What special research did you undertake before filming?
A lot of work but also I don’t make films on which I have to do too much research. My research is already done first. Like I know the period in which the film is set, very well because I am a Guru Dutt fanatic. We were fanatics in that generation. I can tell you every known detail of Guru Dutt’s and Bimal Roy’s life. Also, I am a friend of his grandson, and even daughter and son-in-law. Even Niharika Khan who has done the costumes for Khoya Khoya Chand is married to Ayub Khan who is Dilip Kumar’s nephew. So all these things do help. Also, Mr. Randhir Kapoor opened R.K. studios and gave us access to a lot of photographs, material and property of that era that are not available to anyone else. The art director also has done a lot of work.
The movie is being produced yet another acclaimed film-maker Prakash Jha? How has the experience of working with him been?
Very good, it’s not a boring kind of relationship. You get the benefit of the reaction of yet another good filmmaker without any interference. You get another view point, so you don’t make mistakes which you might otherwise make. You know he is somebody with a technical view and there are a lot of things that went very smooth because he knows for this scene, this is necessary and this is not necessary so he knows production and it worked out very well.
Om Shanti Om which released recently looked at the Hindi Film Industry of the 70’s and took a fabulous opening. Do you expect a similar response to your film? Also aren’t comparisons between the two films inevitable since they both centre on the Hindi film industry of yesteryears?
(Laughs) There should be comparisons. However, the intentions of the two films are different. Om Shanti Om was a fun film. I am very glad that it came before so that the myth that films about the film industry don’t work is broken. Both Farah and Shah Rukh Khan have done us a great favour.
Apart from Khoya Khoya Chand you are also working on two other movies - Tera Kya Hoga Johnny and Aur Devdas. Even Anurag Kashyap is making his own version of Devdas called Dev D. Do you think the audience would have an overdose of Devdas films?
I hope not, mine is not exactly the same Devdas which has been already made. My film is about politics. Its about supposing Devdas has a political linage and when he comes back from England after studying, he claims political responsibility because his mother is the chief Minister of a state and she is in trouble. It’s on a totally different trip. What if Paro is the daughter of Police Commissioner? What if differences between Paro and Devdas lead her to get married to son of another political leader and what if the two parties are at loggerheads? It’s a totally different film and then it goes into totally different area towards the latter half. I could have said my film is not Devdas. However, I am admitting my influence that this is borrowed to some extent from Sarat Chandra’s Devdas. I read it when I was 18 years old. Devdas is not a book by any of the film-maker. It’s an original book by Sarat Chandra who wrote it when he was only 21.
You were seen in an interesting role as a Mafia Don in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Traffic Signal. Any more acting offers in the pipeline?
I get a lot of offers but I have not signed anything. There are very few people who would want my kind of look (Laughs ). Right now I am not interested. I’m working here as a director. If sometime I’m free, not doing anything and a close friend of mine is making a film, just for the pleasure of giving him company and hanging around the sets I’ll act.
Lastly what can audiences expect when they enter a cinema hall to watch Khoya Khoya Chand?
Please come in I’d say, it would be very good experience and please take some responsibility and come and watch it in the first week, give me a chance, I promise not to disappoint you. I didn’t disappoint in Chameli, I didn’t disappoint in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, I didn’t disappoint in Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin. I am not this boring kind of film maker.
It’s a very exciting and romantic film with a very upbeat end. I think our audience should help us a bit. Fill the cinema hall in the first week. When you do that many different filmmakers will prosper. It will not just help me but many different filmmakers in the whole film fraternity. Audiences who want some different cinema should come out and watch this film then they can write to us personally and give their feedback on what they liked and what they didn’t. I am sure they will enjoy the experience.