The original plan was to only direct his first film and let his very talented son Shahid Kapoor take the lead. But now giving in to pressure from all around him Pankaj Kapoor has decided to make an appearance in his directorial debut. “It would be an Alfred Hitchcockian kind of fleeting appearance. But I"d largely like to concentrate on making the film and stay behind the camera."
Speaking excitedly about working with his son in 'Mausam", Pankaj says, “The idea was to do something meaty and challenging. We should be starting in another 2-3 months. We"re into pre-production. I"ve written a lot of scripts which I couldn"t direct and could only star in. When Shahid became an actor he expressed a desire to be directed by me. I thought it"d be wonderful to work with my own son. But I signed him only after I saw the potential in him that I was ready to direct him. We"ve been working on the script for three years. In the meanwhile a really wonderful thing has happened. Shahid became a big star. I"m very proud of him as his father. And Shahid"s stardom is a happy happening for 'Mausam"."
Pankaj is not apprehensive about people"s expectations from the father-son duo. “I know people would be curious to know what we"re making together. That would be a big USP for me. Shahid has great potential. People have always seen him as a chocolate-box hero. But in 'Kaminey" we could see another side of him. Shahid"s USP are his dancing skills and fluent diction. For 'Mausam" I required an actor with range. I"ve a gut feeling my son is going to surprise not just the audience, but also me."
Beyond this Pankaj is reluctant to talk about 'Mausam", “It"s a love story and we don"t want any of the details being picked up by other filmmakers. I plan to bring my own sensibilities together with Shahid"s. It"s rather sad that I"ve been dubbed an offbeat actor. But whenever given an opportunity I"ve done mainstream cinema. I"ve nothing against commercial cinema as long as the rendering of the story is sensible. I"ve learnt so much watching the commercial greats. I hope to use all that I"ve learnt from them into my own 'Mausam". If the producers are spending crores on my film I better get it back for them."
We don"t get to see enough of Pankaj on-screen. Laughs the picky actor, “I do very selective work. The problem is producers have their own rhythm and pace for releasing a film. I did two films in the last one year Bhavna Talwar"s 'Happi" and Rajiv Mehra"s 'Office Office". I played the character on television for 5-6 years. Playing the common man is easy for me. I come from a middleclass family. My father was a professor. It was an academic family. The day-to-day problems in 'Office Office" are all familiar to me. For the movie version of 'Office Office" we"ve moved out of the sets into various cities like Delhi and Hardwar. I"ve stopped thinking about the film. Once one finishes acting in a film there"s nothing one can do about it."
In 'Happi" Pankaj plays a role inspired by Charlie Chaplin.Says Pankaj, “I wouldn"t even dream of comparing myself to Chaplin! He was a genius. 'Happi" is the story of a nondescript man in the city. There"re very few dialogues in the film. Yes the story and character are Chaplinesque. But he and his films were way superior, yaar!"
'Office Office" is an adaptation of the long-running television serial of the same name. Says Pankaj, “While in the serial I had to play many different characters, in the film I had to carry just one character throughout. I"m fortunate to get substantial roles. I"ve built up a reputation for turning down insubstantial roles. For a year now I"ve said no to all acting assignments because of the film I"m directing. I"ve just been writing and preparing for 'Mausam"."
Incidentally the title 'Mausam" for Pankaj Kapoor"s film may change. “We"ll try and find an alternative name. I know the association with the film by Gulzar Saab called 'Mausam" is too strong. The format of that film was inspired by Ingmar Bergman"s 'Wild Strawberries". That 'Mausam" is far superior to what I"m trying to achieve in my first film as director."