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We gab about his Sholay, which is all quite stimulating, but then you've heard it all before in a million magz. I steer him towards his other film Nishabd - which he swears on my head (see, he doesn't want me to live long) isn't a lift from Lolita. You know that Nabokov classic in which an ageing Humbert flipped out over a seductress of a nymphet.
Bring Nishabd up and the Kathakali eyes of the 40-very-something filmmaker dance wildly. His words waltz, "I've got a feeling that you'll be surprised... It's your kind of a movie." Eeesh, and all these years, I've been trying to figure out this conundrum. Forget it, at this very instant I want to know
Your Nishabd is about a girl and a very much older man. Isn't this true of you and your relationships in real life, my friend?
Arre, please let me remain young...as long as girls don't realize this, what's your problem? Please let me have fun.
Wish granted...go on.
Listen, bodies may age but love doesn't. Whether a woman is attracted to a man or the other way around, neither love nor sex has logic. A young guy can be incredibly lousy in bed, an old guy can be incredibly terrific. Last year, I'd read that Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) had been voted as India's sexiest man. And that's because of his presence, his over all persona.
How do women reach to you?
They get bored of me after a while. They tell me I speak too many intellectual things. Still, I think they're happy that I can con them with my words.
Are you 'intellectual' Ramu?
I'm very intellectual but I don't apply this to practical purposes, not to the desired extent at least.
That's a head-banger. You're a man who loves women, right?
Wine and women are the greatest things created by God. And wealth is one of the means to get them.
(Embarrassed) I don't like the sound of that. It suggests that you have to buy love.
Money is not about buying. It's about having a certain position, confidence, energy and mechanism.
Have you ever told anyone, "I love you"?
I said that to a woman till she went away.
No names, please.
How many woman have you loved?
Oh so many, from the time I was in college - the girl sitting in the third row, the girl buying a Coke at a cinema counter, a construction labourer, Sridevi, a junior artiste when I was shooting a Telugu film with Chiranjeevi. Stop, what kind of interview is this?
Come on, don't stop.
(Waiters rematerialize with vodka refills) Women are works of art as long as they don't speak.
How chauvinistic is that?
I'm being honest. I see them as 'freeze' images. The problem is that I want to edit women, I see them as uncut rushes. I get caught among the bad and good rushes. (Suddenly) I live in a fantasy world.
So when you were shooting say Jiah Khan for Nishabd, did you fall in love with her?
No. At times, it's like creating a beautiful composition way you would get a photo-shoot done for a magazine. I became a director to look at beautiful women, beautiful images.
I don't understand where intellect comes into all this?
(Silence, crunch of peanuts)
Ramu, how do you remember Antara Mali?
You! She's one of the finest actors I've worked with. She is more intelligent than I can ever be.
What's up between you and your newish heroine Nisha Kothari?
(Laughs) Let's say we're good friends.
It seems Ajay Devgan didn't exactly approve of her being cast as Basanti in your Sholay?
From the time I approached Ajay for Company till today, there's been problem between Ajay and me.
Can you deny the reports that you have been spotted dining cosily with Nisha Kothari at the restaurant Urban Tadka?
I'm bound to be seen with my heroines. You got an issue with that?
Nope. Now tell me how do you best like to see women?
In bed...in poses composed, photographed and edited by me.
What's your idea of pornography?
A woman in bed...full stop. The rest can be left to the imagination.
Ramu, will you talk to me after this interview is published?
Shut up. You know neither of us has a choice...now what did those waiters put in our vodkas?