The downside of being on the road all the time is that I never get to read the same newspaper every day. I get bits and pieces of news from friends and on the Internet, but I do feel quite cut off from the world. I begin to wonder how other people in my industry stay in touch: to stay real with the times and to the audiences that they serve.
On the other hand, every time I am back in Mumbai, I find the city and the country has moved forward a little more than the last time I was there. The fact that there is a perceptible change within weeks and months is in itself a wonder.
A greater acceptance of diverse ideas has steadily taken root in Indian film-making. There is a new adventure in the industry that is fed with new blood. Films are being made to lead public sentiment, rather than to follow it.
In the past, little had been done to research and document public reaction to each film. When films do badly, fingers are pointed, assumptions made, and then we all move on.
Anybody who has been in marketing long enough will tell you that products don't fail because they are bad. They fail because they are served to the wrong audience. The assumption that all films can be sold to all audiences is based on greed, which is never a great driver of any art.
Leadership is never easy. Somebody has to be the first to seek out new audiences, forge new routes into the wilderness. There will be poison berries along the way, as well as exotic fruits. There have been path-breaking directors like Guru Dutt who have forged new paths and paid the price for their enterprise.
There is a clutch of young film-makers today, who are going against the grain of established norms in the industry. They are laying the path for others in the future.
People ask me why I do so many movies with lesser known film-makers. My answer is: there are enough established actors who will work with mainstream filmmakers. Who will support the younger directors with the fresh ideas? I know I have put my career on the line by choosing some unconventional projects. But so have the directors. I am aware of how much they have to lose if our adventures don't work out the way we planned. In any event, we will have created a unique and memorable piece of work that some people would like to watch over and over again, at least for its novelty. To me, that would be a reasonable achievement.