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Tuesday, December 05, 2006
After getting a tremendous response to his family saga Baghban, director-producer Ravi Chopra is back with his next film Baabul. The film has the biggest of the stars and comes from the oldest banner in the industry - B R Films.
Baghban came out in 2003 and your prior film Kal Ki Awaz came out in 1992. So why did you take such a long break from films?
We make films mainly for family audiences. In the late 80's, due to video piracy, we started feeling that our target audiences, who are family audiences, were watching films mainly at home. So, we found that our audiences were missing from the theaters. We, therefore, decided to go into television for a while. Besides, I also got very busy with Mahabharat. Though we had also planned to continue with films along with Mahabharat, my father fell ill, so I had to do all the shooting. It was therefore not possible for me to shoot both Mahabharat and films together. Hence, I got busy with television completely.
When we decided to make a comeback in films, I was very keen to have Baghban as the first film and my father was also very eager to make the film. However, due to health reasons, it became difficult for him to make the film. It was then in 2002 that he asked me to make the film and that's how it started.
Another issue that happened with Baghban was that we had difference of opinion over the climax. He wanted the climax to be in the court while I wanted it the way it was in the film. I told him that I wouldn't make the film unless you allow me to make it my way. So, that convincing also took a while. He however later let me go ahead and shoot the way I wanted but also said that if he didn't like it, I would have to change it. But when he saw the end, he loved it and said that it was perfect.
So, all these factors led to delay in coming back to films. In fact we were planning to make a comeback in 1999, but then things finally worked out in 2002-03.
Another family film from you - Baabul
Baabul is a family entertainer. It's a family story that deals with the rehabilitation of a daughter-in-law by a father.
What was the reason to retain the Baghban cast in this film as well?
I cast the actors in my film according to the script. For the father's role I needed someone who would be 60 years old, has a 25-30yr old son. So, I think Amitabh was a natural choice for that. Besides, I think he is the only one in the industry who has the caliber to play that role. The first half of the film deals with a very vibrant and easy relationship between the Father, Son and the Mother. For that I think, Hemaji fitted the bill best for the role of the Mother. For the role of the son, I needed someone who is very vibrant and has lot of energy and I think Salman is the ideal choice for that.
How was the experience of working with Rani and John? Since this is your first film with them.
Oh, it was a great experience. Rani Mukherjee is he most dedicated artist I have ever met. John Abraham is a lovely guy and professional.
How was the shooting experience?
We work in a very fun atmosphere. On my sets, there is always masti happening. Half the time you'll find people having fun and sometimes we ended up having just fun and doing less work.
There were stories in media that Salman and John had problems with one another which also affected the shoots.
I had no problem with them. Even I had heard those stories but there was never a problem while shooting.
Tell us about the music of the film.
I think the music is very nice. The album has every kind of music starting from classical to Hip Hop. You name the genre and it is present in the album. I would say that it is a very complete album.
The cinematography in the promos looks very impressive.
I wanted a very opulent look for this film. The important factor of the story was that they are a very rich family. I wanted the film to have today's sensibilities. So, we decided to give a very sophisticated and classy look for this film. Hence, the look is the way you say it is.
Going back to 1980, do you think your film The Burning Train was ahead of its time?
Probably it was. In those days people looked forward for complete story. Disaster is something which is normally the climax of a film and in this film the climax was elongated for two and half hours. So, I guess people were not ready for it at that point of time.
So will you be making an action film like that again?
Depends upon the story! I am a very story oriented filmmaker. If I like a story, I go all the way for it. Currently, I don't have a story like that. You never know...
Does your banner just focus on making family oriented films?
We don't just stick to family dramas. I made The Burning Train and Aaj Ki Awaz which were action films. Basically, we make films with values. We work on basis of script; if we like a script, it doesn't matter what kind of film it is. We like to make films which whole family can sit together and watch. When we say we make family entertainers, what it means is we don't make films that you won't be able to watch sitting next to your family. So, it isn't that we make films of one genre. In fact my film is a comedy.
Coming to your next film, tell us more about Pappu Pass Ho Gaya?
It's a courtroom drama comedy that I'll be making next year.
Bhootnath is already under production. It is directed by a new director named Vivek Sharma. He is shooting the film currently.
Tell us about the experience of shooting Mahabharat?
It was fantastic. The problem with television is that once you start working on a daily, you get bored after a while. But when you are doing a tele-series like Mahabharat, it is more like a film. I like to treat both television and cinema equally; I don't see much difference between the two mediums. When its television, I come to your house to entertain you and when its films, you come to my house which is theatre. And if you notice, I have treated Mahabharat very much like a film.
The experience was very exciting because we were making the series for three and half years and during this time, the team members became very good friends. It was very good fun working together since everyone was very interested in what we are doing. And when the entire team is interested and focused in doing good work, things become very easy for the director.
Whose idea was it to make Mahabharat into a television serial?
We had been toying the idea of making Mahabharat for a long time but on film, it was not working out. Before I made it for the Doordarshan, somebody wanted me to make it for the video market, since videos had just started then. That time I thought I would be curtailing the market and making for one market then didn't make sense. When television came of age, we talked to Doordarshan and they told us to go ahead. It is a story that excites me very much and hopefully I'll make a film on it soon.
Tell us about your relationship with your uncle Yash Chopra
Oh, we are very close. Though Yash Chopra is my uncle by relation, he is more like an elder brother to me. We used to live together. In fact we shared the same room right till he got married. So, we share a great relationship.
Bollywood is slowly getting corporatised. So, what do you think will be its pros and cons?
It is a good situation, since with the coming of the corporates, things are becoming more professional. It is a positive thing for our industry. The one thing I feel is that it is better for the existing producers to become corporatized rather than just corporates coming in. Because I feel that sometimes they don't understand the medium like a Yash Chopra does or any other existing producer does. So, if a Yash Chopra gets corporatized, it would be better for the industry rather than any outsider getting into the industry. When Adlabs or UTV comes in, it does not create a problem as they have always been in the industry. But if a complete outsider comes in, he may not understand the basis of our filmmaking.
When Corporates come in, film production becomes at a mass level. Would that hamper the creativity?
See when you make one film, the average for success and failure is 50-50. But when you make five films, the average improves which is a good thing for you. Besides, in every other way, corporatization is better than a single producer. The only thing is that when the coporatization happens within the industry its better rather than outsiders coming in.
I don't think it would hamper the creativity in anyway. In fact, it helps improve the marketing; it helps better organization of your work. So, the physical aspect of filmmaking gets much improved.
We haven't heard from Mr. B R Chopra for a long time...
Unfortunately, he's not that well now. He is not that mobile now and therefore mostly at home. Even during the music launch of Baabul he was going to attend the ceremony but then he was not feeling well, so he couldn't make it. He however, does come to the office everyday between 1:30 - 2:30 pm and has lunch with me.
What about his passion for films?
Oh, he has just one interest in life, movies. He has no other interest.
What is the vision of BR Films in today's times?
Our USP is to make good wholesome entertainment, to make films with a message, to make films with a difference. We are going to continue that. But then we are not going to make films of the 50's. The films will have today's sensibilities. We are going to continue with good story-telling which is the base of our company but with new look and feel.
What is the USP of Baabul.
I would say the story. It is a very beautiful and powerful story. That's what people are going to say when they come out from the theatre.
Finally, what are your expectations from Baabul?
Like everyone else, I also expect that my film will do wonders. We all have put our best efforts, so I expect the audience to accept our film.