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What is currently happening on the film front?
We are ready to go on the floor with SAPNON KO GINTE GINTE. It has been four to five years since we had the concept in mind, and two years now, the script simmering on fire, ready for shoot. It is based on the spirit of children and will table the cause of inequality. As for casting of the children for the film, relentless rehearsals are on. As for the big carriers who will come in to shoulder the purpose, I do not have any as of now. As soon as I do, we will begin shooting.
” I admire Anurag Basu’s work…”
No, that is not true. I have not signed either. Bipasha had been a happy supporter with one of the NGOs that I work with which tables literacy for financially challenged children. While I have not yet signed her, my intention is to work with Bipasha.
Will you always make films based on children with a message, or would you look at other genres as well?
I have always been working with children, and have had on-floor contact with them via sessions in art, theatre and cinema. Having said this, I could explore non-children related films as well with a twist in the grammar.
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Can you tell us about your upcoming role as an actor in Vishal Bharwaj’s KAMINEY?
When I was offered KAMINEY, I could not refuse. The film was happy therapy for me, and it was great working with Vishal, Shahid and Priyanka. As for the role, I cannot reveal anything as the film is in post production stage right now.
Did TAARE ZAMEEN PAR fulfill the purpose it was meant to?
Yes, absolutely. The purpose paid off completely, urging parents to take a second look at their child. The film is not about disability, but about ‘ability’. It shifts the onus to the parent, saying do not test your child; test yourself as a parent first. It integrates mutability in children’s raring. The need is not to judge your child, but to appraise him for his ability. If a PT teacher cannot draw, is he dyslexic? No! It has been a vehicle for ground level change, where even an unlettered rickshaw driver from Lucknow called up and said the film has changed the way he looks at his child. Parents and teachers have become more open minded, with the cause being addressed at various forums across the nation. Renuka Chowdhry rightly said at a forum in Delhi, ”It is before and after TZP” Having said this, many have misused the film, thus giving rise to a lot of mutton shops, making patients out of children. Shameful! Sinful!
I have known Aamir since college days. In 2002, I happen to meet him, and requested him to tell Akshaye Khanna that I wanted to talk to him. When he asked me what it was about, I told him it was with regards to a script. It was then that he mentioned he would like to see it himself. For two years, a script reading with him did not materialize. By then I had given up. In 2004, around the festival of Ganpati, my son happen to fiddle with my phone and dialed Aamir’s number. When I got to know of this, I texted him to apologize. Immediately, he called me back saying HIGH JUMP ka kya hua? TZP was HIGH JUMP then, however, we changed the name lest it would sound like a film based on sports. He told me he would keep time for me a week later for the script reading. On 25th September 2004, at 10am, I read the script to AK, a script I had faith in, which was not synthetic, but organic and instinctive. AK listened, wiped his tears, and immediately agreed to do the film. Rest is history.
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A wonderful start to TZP, any regrets on what transpired post the 109 days of shoot?
No, I have never spoken about it and will not. A child by any name is a child after all. The purpose of the film was solved, an instrument for social change and a place in the books of cinema.
Would you work with Aamir again?
Currently I am busy with my projects, so let’s see; I am just going with the flow.
In Hindi cimena, which films and filmmakers have influenced you the most?
I have always been an avid lover of cinema. Films like MEGHE DHAKA TARA by Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray’s PATHER PANCHALI, to SANT TUKARAM and MOTHER INDIA, PYAASA, DO BIGHA ZAMEEN and also TEESRI MANZIL and JEWEL THIEF – two water-tight thrillers. Of the current lot, if I have to choose a filmmaker I admire, it would say Anurag Basu, specially his GANGSTER.