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Masala films pushing back off-beat movies

Bollywood potboilers Wanted and Dabangg minted over Rs10 million at the box-office. But from acclaimed actor-filmmaker Rajat Kapoor’s perspective, they impacted the growth of his “kind of cinema”, which includes offbeat entertainers like Bheja Fry and Mithya.

In the past decade, he has directed just five films — Raghu Romeo, Mixed Doubles, Mithya, Fatso! and the forthcoming Ankhon Dekhi. He has no regrets.

“It is very difficult to get producers, but I’m happy about the fact that I made five films in the last 10 years. After Mithya (2008), I thought it will become easy, but suddenly all the masala films like Wanted and Dabangg came in and my kind of cinema was pushed back a little bit,” Kapoor said in a candid interview.

“I have accepted that,” he sighed, adding that “nobody is forcing me to make these films. I am making it because I am passionate about it.”

It’s the passion that eggs him on to struggle his way with the producers as well as to break through the clutter and cluster of “stars” that most Hindi filmmakers flock after for the saleability of their films.

Rajat’s choices as an actor have also stood out over the year – be it the sinister paedophile in Monsoon Wedding, the chilled out uncle in Dil Chahta Hai or the hassled host in Bheja Fry.

The 53-year-old’s directorial ventures, in terms of casting, story and treatment are as different as chalk and cheese if compared to the commercial dramas that thrive in the Hindi film industry.

“I am not interested in making that kind of (masala) films. I want to make films that give me complete control,” he said as he rued how most filmmakers lose the reins of a movie to the hands of screen stars. And Rajat is not game for that.

“I will not share the control with anybody and stars do take the control over your film. With all due respect, Aamir Khan has the final cut rights (over his films). Why should he not? He is a big film person and may be his clarity over films is better than the director, but I am not willing to work in a situation like that.”

“Creative freedom is very important for me. Finally, if the film is bad, I’ll take the complete responsibility. I’m neither interested in money nor in fame; I just want to make films that I believe in,” he said.

Many filmmakers have given up a similar belief and signed up stars to grab more eyeballs for their films. What about that?

“That’s a mistake everybody does and that’s a very bad idea. Maybe, Anurag (Kashyap) can pull it off with Bombay Velvet because Ranbir (Kapoor) is also the kind of actor who is going to join the vision of the director and not impose his ideas.

“Anurag will succeed, but it’s not for me because I don’t write scripts like that,” added Rajat.

At a time when people are more focussed on the economics of a movie rather than its creativity, it is rare to come across someone like Rajat, who says he’s content as long as the “producer doesn’t lose money”.

“It means that my chances of making my next film is better. That has been my effort… to make my films in low budgets,” said the actor-filmmaker, whose forthcoming directorial Ankhon Dekhi has been made on a budget of Rs 5 crore.

It’s the highest ever budget that he has used for making a movie.

“I made ‘Bheja Fry’ in Rs60 lakh. People have enough trust in me to invest (in my films) because it (the money spent on them) has been recovered,” he said.

Ankhon Dekhi, starring Rajat and Sanjay Mishra, hits the big screens on March 21.