How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?
I have never set any boundary as a producer till date. Today making any film is per se a big risk but then at the end of the day, the fact remains that I just cannot sell anything else for a living. The current scenario as far as the film industry is concerned is such that the risks inherent in film making are quite high. However, all said and done what actually matters here is how passionate you are as a filmmaker, nothing else.
Why are you keen on introducing new directors through your production house?
I have always believed in encouraging newcomers to direct films for my production house, because besides the fact that they come with innovative ideas and are raring to go and ready to push the envelope because they want to prove their worth. I cannot sit in an ivory tower and be unapproachable. I am different from a producer who is just a producer because as a director, I know the hardships of another director. As a producer, I feel that I can always lend more support to a new director because I know what he is going through, because at one time, even I had gone through that same phase as a struggling newcomer after I had assisted Pankaj Parashar in direction.
Is it true that Bipasha was your first choice for Acid Factory?
We actually had Bipasha in our minds when the script was being written by Milind. Bipasha would have been an obvious choice, but I wanted to surprise the audiences. However, Diya Mirza will prove to be the biggest surprise packet of Acid Factory in a kind of role in which you would have never seen the dainty damsel any time before. I would even go to the extent of stating that Diya is actually one of the gangsters in the film.
You have not really cast happening stars in Acid Factory. Why?
When I was asked why I cast Vivek Oberoi in Mission Istanbul, John Abraham in Zinda or for that matter Amitabh Bachchan in Kaante when they were down and out, I told people that I do not see my actors as lesser stars than the other super stars, because as a producer, I do not believe in selling stars. I am very confident that Acid Factory will help every actor who has worked in the film to go to the next level. Each and every actor who I approached for Acid Factory was excited when he or she read the script. You can smell whether a film is good or not only when the actor sees it objectively. If the film that you make turns out to be bad, the stars will automatically become unavailable to you, even if you happen to be the biggest of the producers.
What is the reason that you strive to make something different every time you set out to make a film?
When I was just an assistant to Pankaj Parasher, there were eminent makers like Mani Ratnam, J.P. Dutta and Mukul Anand who ruled the rostrum. I used to wait eagerly to see their films because they always used to do something new in each and every film of theirs. It has stayed with me and that is one of the main reasons why I try to break some new ground with every film that I set out to make, whether as a producer or for that matter as a director. I would say that this is my way of repaying the film industry.
Which are the films you are now producing?
Pankh starring Bipasha and Maradona and The Great Indian Butterflies are being readied for release. The Great Indian Butterflies is a simple, but elegant story directed by Sartakdas Gupta, who was brought to me by Parth Arora, who is the co-producer of the film. Besides these two films, I am also now producing Sonagachi in digital format, with Sudipto who had directed Pankh as the director once again. Mahesh Manjrekar and Manoj Bajpayee are acting in the film, which is not in Bengali, but in Hindi. I am also all set to make Milte Hai with Meghna Gulzar as the director. It is a romantic comedy.
Considering the fact you are known sarcastically as the DVD director, are you planning to move towards the West?
I am not at all desperate to go to Hollywood. I would rather bring Hollywood here. I would rather be a King in India than a struggler outside India. Whether you make a film in Hindi or English, what is important is that you enjoy the process.
Sanjay Gupta reveals that though Bipasha Basu was the original choice for the role of Diya Mirza in Acid Factory, Diya will be the surprise packet of the film