"What do you think I did wrong?" Sanjay F. Gupta asks, baffled by the reviews of "Karam", his debut
"No one seems to like it! The critics don't like it. The audience isn't going in enough numbers," says
Sanjay of "Karam" that released Friday.
"I just wanted to make a film where the people were real and which had subtleties. I didn't want the
formula. I wanted to show love between two people without them singing songs in Switzerland," tells
That's what makes "Karam" so special.
Sanjay F. Gupta, a well-known cinematographer and music-video maker, was supposed to direct "Musafir"
for Sanjay Gupta.
"That's right. I was supposed to direct 'Musafir' for Sanjay. But then 'Jism' came out. We thought that was
very close to 'Musafir' and dropped the project. Next thing I know Sanjay Gupta directed it
"Karam" came next. "The script by Suparn Verma gripped me. I told my writer to please tell me if it's
taken from a Hong Kong film, or something. He assured me it was original. I accepted that. Then I quickly
found a producer. Everything fell into place quickly.
"Though the script wasn't novel I knew I could do my own take on it. I don't know why everything fell apart.
What didn't you like in 'Karam'?" he asks suddenly.
I explain that the violence is unlike anything Bollywood masses watch, like Priyanka's finger being
"You know," sighs Gupta, "I don't watch too many Hindi movies. I never realised I was making anything
more violent than what's supposedly normal.
"The backlash has shocked me. I thought people were sick and tired of watching the same hackneyed
treatment of Hollywood-inspired subjects in Hindi. Maybe it's the potboilers that they want. I can't give it to
them. Sorry, I won't change my ways."
Sanjay F. Gupta is unhappy about the fact that critics have accused him of making "Karam" like a music
"Definitely not! If I wanted to make more music videos I'd have done so. The very reason for my doing a
feature film was to move on.
"Which part of 'Karam' looks like a music video? I'm tired of doing music videos. I wanted to tell a story
that touched the audience. I'm not saying I won't go back to videos. But I needed to explore a new genre
of visual entertainment."
"Karam" has several Hollywood devices. Like the violent introduction in animation, a la Quentin Tarantino's
Gupta almost giggles. "That's not consciously done... Well, okay. I can see why people think it's taken
from 'Kill Bill'. People say my songs in 'Karam' are shot like music videos.
"Not true! I wanted the songs to tell a story, not stop the story. Maybe 'Tinka tinka' breaks the narrative.
But it introduces Priyanka ... Isn't she lovely?"
Speaking of the cast, John Abraham was Sanjay's first choice.
"Largely I'm happy with my film. Because of John's star value we could only do the action in a particular
budget. I couldn't give my imagination the free reign that I wanted. But John suited the role from the start.
The hero is named after him."
Sanjay F. Gupta hasn't planned his next move.
"I was waiting for 'Karam' to come out, hoping that I could produce my own film. I think I'm a misfit in
Bollywood, and I don't mind. After 'Apolacypse Now' Francis Coppola had said, every film is a new
beginning for him. And that he always felt like an outsider in Hollywood.
"Given the situation in Bollywood, I don't want to be part of the system... But I've a family to feed. What do
I do now? Maybe make some more music videos?"