"It's a battle of our 'Rajma Chawal' and their 'Spaghetti'" - Mukesh Bhatt

By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network

More than three months back, Vishesh Films had finalized 23rd January 2009 i.e. today as the release date of Raaz - The Mystery Continues. The only difference though being that at that time there was no Slumdog Millionaire making news. Suddenly, the film started winning international recognition and things have reached at such a stage that it is not just competing with the Emraan Hashmi-Kangna Ranaut-Adhyayan Suman starrer but also coming along with a huge hype considering its Oscar nomination in as many as 10 categories. Joginder Tuteja catches up with Mukesh Bhatt (who is caught in a rather amusing mood here) and chats with him about the competition called Slumdog Millionaire.

Raaz - The Mystery Continues clashing with Slumdog Millionaire; you certainly wouldn't have seen this coming!
[Laughs] Well, Slumdog Millionaire is for the high brow intellectual audience; the kind who appreciate cerebral films. I make films only for Indian audience. My company caters to Indian taste buds. It's a battle of our 'Rajma Chawal' and their 'Spaghetti'!

But isn't Slumdog Millionaire coming with a huge hype considering the international recognition it has gained over last couple of months?
Good for them. However, I don't make films for Chicago or Houston. My commitment is to entertain my 'desi junta'. I don't vouch for any Oscars or Globes. My award comes in the form of claps by the man on the street who watches my film. It's the audience that lives in Bengal, UP, Karnataka and other states that should be applauding my films. For me, these are the people who are my guru, guide and philosopher.

You don't seem to be appreciative of West waking up to a film (SM) based in India.
Absolutely not. I don't need a white man to tell me whether I am good or bad in my job. This country is a wagging tail and it's a shame that we are still acting as slaves. Guess, the way we are reacting to Slumdog Millionaire, we are not yet out of the slavery mindset in spite of Brits leaving our country 60 years back. Sorry, I don't want them to tell me how good or bad is Raaz - TMC; I would rather wait for reactions from my own countrymen.

But you are releasing the film in overseas?
Absolutely, and that's for my Indian Diaspora. How can I ignore that? They form 1/5th population of the world and are spread all over, I have to reach out them. But no, I am not making my film to cater to the sensibilities of 'gora log'.

Lots of foreign studios are looking at entering mainstream cinema though. Doesn't that say a thing or two about their inclination towards the kind of films that we make?
What entry? Filmmaking is a creative medium and frankly, I don't see these studios having any inkling about filmmaking. I have said this before and I will repeat it - It is always big ideas that work and not budget, stars or locations. It's a pity that these people do not understand this basic fact. Inhe lagta hai ki hum star le lenge to woh initial toh le hi lega aur haamara kaam ho jaayega. They don't have any 'lena-dena' for films, all they want is some quick money.

You seem to be quite vocal about this!
Because it's a shame that they are plain and simple falling for stars. They are succumbing to their whims and fancies. They make the film the way a particular star wants to make a film; khud ka kuch idea nahi hai. Net result is always going to be a suicide.

Are you indicating towards Warner Bros. and their Chandni Chowk To China?
Them as well as others. In fact what surprises me is that a company like Warner that has a culture of films could get into stupid things. They have shown complete disrespect for audience. You can't dream that just because you have Akshay Kumar, you would rock. I don't know what story did they narrate and how did the actors agree.

Coming back to Slumdog Millionaire, do you think that the entire hullabaloo would help it gain any edge?
How does it make a difference to my film? Actually, it is disgusting to see the way we are reacting to all the awards for the film. It is as if an Indian film has got them all. Come on, it is a British film. I am sure if it was an Indian film, no one would have taken it to such a distance for the awards. People out there are very clear; they won't give any of our own movies any such recognition. However, when they come to our soil and make movies, they give it all the recognition.

Earlier it appeared that Chandni Chowk To China may have been a competition in it's second week, now that doesn't seem to be the case!
We are releasing it at 950 screens with 550 physical prints and remaining being digital. Wait for Raaz - TMC to make a bang at the box office. It has been made at 1/3rd of the budget of Chandni Chowk To China and still we are expecting great collections.

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