Stars are magnets to attract audiences: Shyam Benegal

Mumbai, Sep 13 (IANS) Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal is known for making arthouse cinema with non-commercial actors, but he says he believes in stardom and admits he would like to work with big names if the budget permits and the script demands it.

"Stars are magnets to attract the audiences to theatres and who would not like to have them by their side? But their presence has to be justified and the budget of the film should permit to have them," Benegal told IANS in an interview.

Citing examples of Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, Benegal said: "They are stars besides being good actors."

The director added that stardom existed in every big industry.

Benegal said that Bollywood had definitely grown bigger over the years.

"Bollywood films are shown not only in India now but also in various parts of the world, which has led to growth of the industry manifold.

"With the coming of multiplexes, exhibiting options has multiplied in our country. The space for generating revenue has increased and box office collections have become easier," Benegal said.

"With the entry of corporates, revenues are increasing by 15-20 percent every year which has allowed various films to be made which would not have been possible 10-12 years back," he added.

On the corporate's interference on the creative side of a film, Benegal said: "Corporates see the film as a product and they examine it from the marketing point of the view, which is very natural as they are dealing with public money.

"The corporate houses are answerable to various investors and they cannot take a decision from an individual's perspective... so they go by the company's laws and guidelines."

As far as his recent film "Welcome to Sajjanpur" is concerned, Benegal said he did not face any creative interference from its producers.

He said: "I have been lucky on that matter in my career as I never had any creative interference from any of my producers till date and for this film too I was given complete creative freedom."

The film is produced by UTV.

About the film, he said: "Welcome to Sajjanpur" is a romantic satire based in a remote part of Madhya Pradesh. It is a satire where we will laugh at ourselves. Sajjanpur is a fictional name given by writer Ashok Mishra, who belongs to that part of India."

"I don't know, you might find a place by that name if you search on the Internet, but as far I am concerned it is fictional," quipped the director.

The story revolves around a young man who aspires to become a novelist but ends up writing letters and applications for the illiterate villagers.

His writing skill makes him popular among the villagers and the interesting part of the story is when he tries to manipulate the villagers, taking advantage of his skill.

Benegal, who directed critically acclaimed films like "Mandi", "Zubeidaa" and "Sardari Begum", said after "Sajjanpur" he is also planning for two movies - one would be comedy and the other a musical.

He said the script for both the films are in the final stages and whichever is ready earlier will go on the floors first.

On being asked if he is planning to make a change in his style of filmmaking, he said: "People always try to do something new. Why shall I stick to particular format of filmmaking? I will make something which I have never made before and which is completely new to me."

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