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Mona Chopra is Maneka for me - Vinod Pandey

 
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By: Faridoon Shahryar, IndiaFM

Monday, May 01, 2006

"I salute Aamir Khan as he is an actor that walks with ease in both commercial as well as art cinema," says producer-director Vinod Pandey who has made bold but aesthetically sound films like Yeh Nazdeekiyan, Ek Naya Rishta and the more recent Sins that marked the debut of one of the most promising actors Shiney Ahuja as the Priest who commits the sin of having sex.

"I feel happy for Shiney but I can't take the entire credit. He started Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi before my film but since Sins was released earlier, it became his first film," says the proud director. So, how did he handle the protests that marred the film from a certain section of Christian Clergy? "I think it was all politicized. If there was any cause for concern then I should have faced protests in Kerala where a huge number of Christian population lives. But nothing happened. So, why stop my film in Mumbai?"

Vinod Pandey is a director with a small but significant body of work. His take on the fiery extra marital affair between Mark Zuber and Parveen Babi in Yeh Nazdikiyan was extremely progressive. Shabana Azmi was not merely a suffering wife who accepts her destiny. Neither does she retaliate aggressively. The redefinition of trust and friendship coupled with the lust and loneliness of the 'other woman' was handled very sensitively. Ek Baar Phir, Ek Naya Rishta (With Rekha and Raj Kiran), Biddu's Star (With Kumar Gaurav), Sach, Akeli (Not released) and then Sins complete his filmography. "After a point of time I started doing lots of television and then gradually I came back to Cinema and now I am into thick of things," he says.

So, what are some of his forthcoming films? "I am ready with Red Swastika which is a psycho thriller. It's a story of a disturbed person who goes on a killing spree. I am also starting a film titled Din Ke Andhere Mein that can be literally translated as In the darkness of the daylight. Then there's an English film called Ambassador's Wife. I am also working on a comedy called Chaloo Movie."

It is rumored that Red Swastika has your heroine Mona Chopra indulging in frontal nudity. "She is Maneka Chopra for me as that's how she is being credited in Red Swastika. Yes, there are scenes which are sensual and sexual but they are an integral part of the film and have been done aesthetically. It also has Harsh Chaya, Deepshikha and a newcomer Deepraj. And all of them have given outstanding performances. I am more comfortable working with newcomers rather than working with stars."

With the Multiplex Culture coming in and diversely different films like Rang De Basanti, Being Cyrus and Black to name a few scoring at the box office, how do you foresee the future from here on? "These are good and exciting times for challenging cinema. Audience is accepting different kinds of content. The time of piti pitai films are gone now. These are times to be daringly different," he says with a tinge of excitement.

In your opinion who are the directors to look-out-for? "I respect Ram Gopal Verma a lot for he is always doing a different quality of films. He is very competent. Sarkar is a brilliant film except for a few portions. I also like Anurag Basu and Vivek Agnihotri." So, finally, being the part of jury that selected Paheli as India's entry to Oscars, do you still stand by your decision? "Absolutely, without any reservation. I feel Paheli was the right choice. It was a unanimous decision. It was a film representative of Indian ethos, costumes, music, dances. The cinematography, the art designing, the performances were very good. And then the final dilemma was very human." 

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