Sanjay Gupta: 'I am not the villian'


By Hindustan Times
Mumbai, Jan. 19 -- Bollywood award season has kicked off on a crackling note, quite literally. What started off with filmmaker Sanjay Gupta pointing out similarities - at a closeddoor jury meeting of an award function - between Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and the 1985 American film Fandango has now intensified into a full-blown conflict.
On Friday night, director Zoya Akhtar, actor-producer Farhan Akhtar and producer Ritesh Sidhwani didn't collect any honours announced for the film, including a tie for Best Film with The Dirty Picture, despite being present at the Colors Screen Awards event, apparently as a protest against Sanjay's remarks.
But the Zinda director says he is unreasonably being made the villain. "I have nothing against Farhan or Zoya and have always admired and appreciated their work," says Sanjay, adding that when he had walked into the meeting, it was a hung jury. "So, I gave my vote to The Dirty Picture. Not because of Fandango, but because I believed it was a better film as proven by the fact that it won six major awards including acting, writing and direction," he insists.
Incidentally, Gupta's next Shootout At Wadala is being co-produced by Ekta Kapoor, who also produced The Dirty Picture. "Being a filmmaker, I believe a film that wins Best Director deserves to win Best Film. And the entire jury voted for Milan Luthria, no contest," says Sanjay. He points out that it was Elizabeth director Shekhar Kapur who first voiced his opinion against Zindagi Na Milega Dobara, revealing, "After the first 30 seconds of watching the Fandango trailer, Shekhar Kapur said, 'Zindagi is out.' So let's not make me the villain."
Sanjay also hit out at the 'insider' who revealed the news of the jury's debate, saying, "We had decided on giving the Best Film award to The Dirty Picture, and then someone leaked the details of our discussion. It's a clear case of arm-twisting." To mark his unhappiness with the incident, Sanjay sent an email to the organisers, saying, "We spent the whole day debating, arguing and voting, and came to the conclusion that The Dirty Picture deserves Best Film. The jury did this together. Then to go back and start speaking to each other individually, and change that decision is most inappropriate." Zoya, Farhan and Ritesh remained unavailable for comments.