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By: Joginder Tuteja, IndiaFM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
One is a little apprehensive while starting a conversation with Raksha Mistry because one tends to believe that her debut flick The Killer [which she co-directed with Hasnain Hyderabadwaala] didn't really set the cash registers ringing. Expecting a rather low tone from her, one tries to get started. But the lady simply amazes you with an exciting and confident voice as she announces that she is already mid-way through her next film Train and above all, hold your breath, The Killer was a winner after all! Over to the lady to hear more from her about her experience post The Killer and what's going on her mind while filming Train.
You seem to have very quickly moved on to your next project.
Is that so? I am surprised to hear so and you are actually making me conscious about this since I never felt so. In fact when we had just begun The Killer, Bajaj brothers [Shyam and Narendra] had approached us to make a film for them. We said that let's finish off The Killer first and once we get into its post production, we started working on Train. Since Emmy [Emraan Hashmi] was to star in Train too and we were interacting with him for The Killer anyways, it was easy for us to get going on the project simultaneously.
How did Bhatts react to this progress?
Oh they were quite cool about that! Mukeshji knew that Bajajs had approached us and he didn't have any problems whatsoever on the projects we were planning to take. In fact Mukeshji is now on our head to get started with their next project soon too.
Train sounds like a rather interesting title. So what is it about?
Train is a romantic thriller and as the name suggests is based on a train. In fact we are already through with more than 50% of the film's principal shooting. It is extremely different from what we have done with The Killer and you would be surprised to see the two of us presenting something in a new light. From a street 'Tom and Jerry' escapade in The Killer, we have now gone bold with a story revolving around extra marital affair. But yes, don't be under any misconception that it is about a 'one-night-stand' of the kind that Irrfan and Hashmi shared in The Killer [laughs]!
So how far does the bold subject go?
Quite a lot! And that's because this time around we are going full throttle with the treatment that we intend to give to the film. In case of The Killer we learnt a lesson from Mahesh Bhatt saab where he told us not to hold back when trying to tell a story. With a fantastic script like Train in hand, we have so much that we can do if we want that to come alive on screen. And before you ask me, let me tell you that the film has a lot of hot scenes; in fact many more than you may have seen in an average Hindi flick!
Hmmm....so is Mr. Emraan Hashmi back to his kissing ways?
Yes, he is! Though I don't understand why there is so much of hoopla made of kissing and love making etc. After all it is a film and people know what they would get to see when they venture into a theatre. So after all it's their choice if they want to watch a particular flick or not. In case of Emmy, well I really feel sorry about him. He had promised himself that he won't repeat the kissing act but then we narrated the subject to him, we told him that this is something that he may be required to do since its an integral part of the script. He simply asked, "kya yeh zaroori hai?", and when we said yes, he said "Ok, let's do it then"! We did ask him though if he had any reservations since he was just about to get married but he was overall cool about it.
Fair enough, Emraan Hashmi was a quick decision. But how about the others?
Oh, believe me we went through hell for that! It was such a great difficulty casting for Train since it's a bold subject never seen before on the Indian screens. And for that we have to give full marks to the leading ladies Geeta Basra [last seen in 'Dil Diya Hai'] and India's nomination for 2004 Miss World - Sayali Bhagat who makes her debut with the film.
But what's so special about the roles of the leading ladies?
See, the film is about today's women. Women who are strong willed, are contemporary and have guts. But yes, there is a lot of sexuality involved too. So when we went to sign some of the top leading ladies in the industry, they all said "Wow, what a role"! Par jab film sign karne ki baat uthi toh sabka yahi kehna tha ki yeh bahaut bold role hai, main nahin kar paayongi! Now think of it, these are the very ladies who speak to the reporters saying that we are looking for that 'once in a lifetime role' and when they get a chance to enact it, they shy away. Some even said that the roles are fantastic but can there be some changes in the script to tone down the subject!? But my question was WHY? Why are you scared? Well, good for them if they are happy running around the trees.
Geeta Basra and Emraan Hashmi don't really have a good record together with 'Dil Diya Hai' not doing well. Isn't that scary?
No, not at all! A film working or not working can never depend upon an individual. It's always a team effort and no one can be singled out for the success or a failure of a film. Having said that I have seen 'Dil Diya Hai' and I still don't know why it didn't work. Coming to Geeta, she is a level headed girl who is just correct in her action and mannerisms. And let me put this on record that even if Geeta had 50 flops behind her; I would have still cast her as the leading lady in Train. Also to add, though she comes from London her personality and thoughts are very Indian. Coming to Sayali, it has been 2 years since she contested for Miss World and what I have seen of her is that she is quite intelligent and politically correct. All of this makes it a perfect casting for me as they add to the characters.
And let me put this on record that even if Geeta Basra had 50 flops behind her; I would have still cast her as the leading lady in Train.
Geeta and Sayali on two sides, what does Emraan have to say?
Well, he is in ecstasy [roars with laughter]! Jokes apart, he never interferes in the casting so when we told him about the leading ladies and asked him if he was happy with the casting, he was cool about the whole affair.
Great, so let's now talk about The Killer a little...
[Interrupts] Ha, so there you go! [Laughs]
Well, one can't really wrap up this conversation without asking you what went wrong with the film. Isn't that so?
And my answer to that is that nothing actually did if you see the final tally. Yes, agreed that the film didn't really go as far as expected and we could possibly attribute it to less hype and publicity. We didn't really have much time in hand to take the film an extra mile before unleashing it on the big screen and further to that we were also hampered by the fact that the film got an 'A' certificate.
And why was that?
Because the censors thought that the opening song 'Abhi To Main Jawaan Hoon' had too much of cleavage by Nisha Kothari. They did offer us a UA certificate if we could edit the song at certain places but while doing so we realized that it was turning out to be quite haphazard. At the end, it was sad to see that there were college students lined up outside the theatres but they were not being allowed an entry in due to the 'A' certificate.
But the film did eventually crash in the 2nd week.
Not the second but third. But even that sounds a little immaterial since the film turned into safe in first 4 days itself. Yes, we did loose money in Rajasthan - CI territory and that was because there were heavy rains and floods during those days. Now one can't help such calamities, right? But if you ask me, overall The Killer is still a plus film.
If that's the case then why is trade hell bent on calling it a flop?
That beats me too! I was surprised too because it was none from true. But then probably all this happens if you are a newcomer in the industry and hence a little naive about how things work in the trade circles. [Laughs] Probably they thought ki chalo ye choti picture hai, iske baare mein kuch bhi kahenge to chalega! Trade was concentrating more on films like Krrish, Fanaa, Omkara and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna that were all around The Killer.
In contrast, the critics really didn't go ballistic as one had assumed hearing that it is adapted from 'Collateral'.
Thank goodness for that [laughs]! Critics liked it and though unhone kapde zaroor utaare, par utne nahin jitna hamein lag raha tha! Pyaar se bata diya ki kya better ho sakta tha! The good part was that Mukeshji liked the film and said we did a great job. Even reports from the audience was good, which was something we realized when we saw the film with the audience. It was an awesome reaction from them, especially in single screens where it expectedly did good. Though it is true that in multiplexes, it fared below expectations.
But don't you think a good success of a film makes a lot of difference to first time directors?
See, between Hasnain and me we had a conversation that let's make those people happy, whosoever see the film. Even if the number is 5-10-15, it's ok, as long as they like the film and be entertained.
So how do you both work together in spite of being different personalities?
I am quite hyper whereas he is quite cool. But together, both of us are indeed emotional and look at each other for help when required. Ultimately our strong willpower ensures that we pick up the baton and start running again without being down!