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Saturday, November 24, 2007
The London-based Shekhar Kapoor made his directorial debut in Hollywood with 'Elizabeth ', in 1998. Unfortunately, despite the awards abroad, the movie failed to make an impact in India, maybe because it did not release nationwide. Now Kapoor is back in the news with the sequel to Elizabeth, and his aim to make sure that it is released in theatres in every city of India. It also gives him a chance to reconnect with the Indian audience. He tells us about 'Elizabeth – The Golden Age', and more.
Q. 'Elizabeth ' was nominated all over the world for its costumes. What kind of research have you done for costumes for 'Elizabeth – The Golden Age'?
A. A lot of research. I met with a lot of people. I never spent too much time wondering how things must have been; I just focused on how we could make it look believable. I want to tell you about the discussions my costume designers and I had over materials and colours. The Virgin Mary is seen in blue, mostly, and this is her purest form. I wanted my protagonist in the same colours. However, in England, blue is not considered a sign of purity, so my designers advised me against it. I insisted, reasoning that blue was an expensive colour in those days, and only a queen could afford it.
Q. The British ruled us for so long. How do you think the Indian audience will take this film?
A. I have no idea.
Q. It is rumoured that you are planning to revive the project that was stalled 15 years ago – 'Time Machine'.
A. That is true. My friend, Karan Razdan, and I, wrote the story together. Both Karan and I have received many offers to revive the movie, in all these years. So we thought we should do it ourselves. You know, a lot of people told us that the story was way of its time then; but, again, most of my stories are perceived as being ahead of their times. Another reason for not completing the movie was the fact that our artistes and director had date problems.
Q. So will you use the same actors again, or do you have other plans?
A. The story is the same, and apt for this generation's audience. The cast will be different from the original one, obviously. The original cast members no longer suit the roles. I am looking for a director for this movie.
Q. Don't you think most Bollywood stories are ahead of their times, since they have more fantasy than reality?
A. Absolutely not. Fantasy is something else, and being ahead of your time is an entirely different issue. A fantasy can be based on the present or the future. I am talking about the time when there were only four genres in Indian films. I wanted to do something different, and I was told that the audience is not ready for a film like this. Now that we have had movies like Rang De Basanti, Chak De India, and Munnabhai MBBS, the possibilities are immense.
Q. Do you think Boney Kapoor's Mr India was also ahead of its time?
A. It was. I was told, again, that it would not work with the audience, but it clicked, and became a hit. Ironically, the producer of Mr India, Boney Kapoor, thought 'Time Machine' was ahead of its time. Things have changed now. I still think that the audience was ready then, and we, as filmmakers, were not convinced enough.
Q. After Masoom and Mister India, you have hardly directed any films in Bollywood. Any specific reason for that?
A. Not really. Since I left India, I have done Bandit Queen, Four Feathers, and both the Elizabeth movies. I also worked with AR Rehman for some time. I launched my comic book company, and it has been pretty successful so far. I have been so busy that I don't remember the last time that I spent two weeks in Mumbai, without a care in the world. I had three homes – in India, USA and London. Now I have left London. I want to spend more time in India.
Q. You are rediscovering your roots...
A. I never forgot my roots. As far as filmmaking is concerned, the same stories that everybody had ridiculed 15 years ago, are now praised. I could not have made 'Paani' then, but now people are praising the story, and how!
Q. So who do you think is responsible for this change? The filmmakers, or the audience?
A. Filmmakers, mostly. The audience has always been ready, even in 1940. The audience always has a vivid imagination, and is receptive to good entertainment. We have to deliver the goods.
Q. You are a renowned director worldwide, and nationwide. Why do you make more movies abroad than here?
A. When I started, there were certain topics that I wanted to make, but I could not. I wanted to make a movie on Nelson Mandela, but could not. I am sure everybody knows that 'Bandit Queen' was financed from outside the country. Those days, nobody was willing to invest in different kinds of films, but now they are.