Out of the three movies that Pooja Bhatt had directed, two were unsuccessful at the box-office. But that hasn't disheartened the actress one bit. As of now, she is excited about her forthcoming movie Dhoka, that has terrorism as its theme. She talks about the film's storyline, her liking for comedy and how she deals with her actors.
What inspired you to make a movie on terrorism?
Mr. Bhatt was telling me about how custodial deaths often turn common people into vengeful terrorists. He told me about this police officer whose wife died in a bomb blast. I was shocked when I was told that the wife was a suicide bomber. The ones who fall victim to a tragedy are the ones who give birth to it. This interested me and I thought of making a film on the subject.
What preparation did you do for this movie?
I visited some of the places where suicide bombers had struck terror. A lot of people, including some reporters, helped me in this work. I had the notion that it was Pakistani Muslims who are involved in Jihad. But my perception changed as soon as I found out that Hindus are equally involved in the crime in our country. I thought this cop Mr. Bhatt told me about is my hero, who gets punished for crimes that others commit.
Tell us more about the movie.
The protagonist of Dhoka is Zaid Ahmed Khan, played by Muzammil Ibrahim, who is an honest and principled police officer. He leads a happy life with wife Sara, played by Tulip Joshi, till one day when Sara is killed in a bomb blast. Zaid is very depressed but when investigations reveal that Sara was not the victim but the culprit he is shocked. Zaid is suspended from work, despite his pleas of innocence. He offers to help in the investigations even after being suspended as he is eager to know what made his wife commit the crime.
Don't you feel that Muzammil is too young to play the character?
We wanted Irfan Khan to play this character but then today's young audience can associate with Muzammil better. If the youngsters don't relate to the theme there is no use making the movie.
How was the casting done for the movie?
During the music release party of film Holiday, Muzammil had come on someone else's pass. I asked him what he was doing there when he was not invited. He said he had come to meet me. Later, while returning home from the event I thought of the slim guy. So after finalizing the story of Dhoka, I selected him. There was not much of a problem because he hails from Kashmir and understands the problem of terrorism. The two heroines Tulip and Ashima were selected via auditions.
This subject is quite controversial, so what special care did you take so that you don't offend the sensibilities of the audience?
I just know that if you make a movie with a clear heart and soul, and in good spirits, then you need not worry about anything.
You have been an actor, so how do you deal with your actors as a director?
I am strict with my actors, because I know there is no difference between actors and dogs. I say so because I have been an actor.
What is your source of inspiration?
My mother, she alone looked after my upbringing and inculcated values and morals in me.
Will you ever act in your own direction?
For me, acting is equivalent to a holiday trip. But I would never want to act in my own films.
What is your husband's reaction when you direct him?
On the sets, we are not husband and wife. We are professionals. He is aware of my direction and he has no ego problem as such.
You were about to cast Mallika Sherawat in one of your movies. What happened?
Yes, it true that we are going to make a movie titled Cabaret. But the actress has not been finalized yet.
Being a multi-tasker, what else do you plan to do in the future?
I am very happy with the work I have done so far, I just want to be known as a film-maker or a producer or director.
Have you ever thought of making a comedy flick?
I love comedy films a lot. As an actor, the two movies I enjoyed doing the most were Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi and Prem Diwane. I think sobbing, shouting and screeching are not that difficult to enact. The most difficult thing is to make the audience laugh with your good timing. There are a lot of comedians in the industry but if I make a comedy, I will take Anupam Kher or Paresh Rawal for the lead role. These guys are not scared of portraying themselves as funny.
Which is your next movie as a director?
The name of my next movie is Muskil. It is a story of a small-town guy who comes to a big city with dreams in his eyes. The cast has not being finalized as yet. I just want to say that we are looking for new faces to act in this venture. So come for the auditions and you might be the one to act in this movie.