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As usual, you announced your new films on your birthday. Could you describe the projects? To achieve our objectives of scaling up our production house, Mukta Arts Ltd we announced seven films of different genres and budgets to go on the floor this year and the next.
Three films will be made under Mukta Searchlight Films to be directed by Nagesh Kuknoor, Shashi Sudulgia and me, all of which will go on the floors this year. Nagesh will repeat his hero Shreyas Talpade, Shashi has cast three diploma holders from FTII and has already started shooting.
What about you?
I will go on the floor this November. My film will be shot in a 40- day schedule and finished by Jan 2007 for a March release. I am introducing a new hero Anurag Sinha, a trained actor and diploma holder from FTII. Anil Kapoor will play the stellar role in the film. The film is titled Black and White, a small budget movie under Mukta Search Light. I will also direct a big -budget movie with Salman Khan and two heroines and one more hero to go on the floor in May 2007. Three other big budget movies will be made in 2007 under the direction of Abbas -Mustan, Anees Bazmi and Anurag Basu.
What were the criteria for selecting these projects? Were they selected with an eye on new talent? If so do you think Bollywood is starved of new talent?
The Mumbai film industry is definitely starved of new talent especially in the main roles. Though the industry is expanding rapidly, the high prices being paid by corporate companies to current stars is alarming. This will result in very high production costs with no guarantee of good returns. Most of the stars are producers themselves and now they will produce for these corporate companies.
So what's the solution?
It's a change we need to accept and find our own ways to make hit movies. I admire Sanjay Leela Bhansali as he's introducing more new stars to the industry. We at Mukta too select talent on the basis of credentials. That's why we've cast seven diploma holders who worked for two years in an institute before they approached producers for roles. I respect that. We would like to make movies on the strength of scripts and directors and suitable good actors.
What about your own directorial venture? Why haven't you directed anything since Kisna?
I had to complete this other huge project. I started Whistling Woods Film and multi media institute and it had to get my full attention. It was a question of the future of young ones joining the institute, so I wanted it to be perfect and equal to the best n the world. It was like directing 10 films at one time. I spent 15 hour a day at Whistling Woods for the last one and half year. So I didn't want to direct a movie even though I have been working on my scripts for the last two years.
You've discovered great talent like Jackie, Manisha and Madhuri. Why haven't we seen such talent emerge from Mukta Arts in recent times?
Talents are recognized by the commercial success of a movie. Actors become stars because of hit movies and hit movies depend on great scripts. I keep trying to encourage and groom new stars, so I'm introducing many new talents in my new projects.
You've produced admirable off-mainstream films like Iqbal and Joggers Park. Do you think there's a sizeable audience for them in this country?
Good films always have an audience provided they are made within a targeted budget. We had a good taste of success in Jogger's Park and Iqbal because they were low-cost films based on excellent concepts.
You are a master musician. Do you see any potential Laxmikant-Pyarelals in today's composers?
Unfortunately visuals are taking over sound ... so music is loosing its importance. A whole song is played in 10 second ring tone... amazing! But I will keep a hold on my standard of music no matter what.
What do you think of Himesh Reshammiya and his success?
He too is a visual delight, though he is a very talented composer mostly on the lines of Laxmikant -Pyarelal.