Rakeysh Mehra Speaks To Subhash K Jha About Rang De Basanti
Q: Aks came almost four years ago....
A: I always go with the flow. While I was working over a film with Mr Bachchan. But it didn't happen. First there was date issues. Then the producer shut shop. The period after Aks was very confusing. I gave it everything. Then initially when people didn't accept it I was heartbroken and demoralized.
I'm not from within the film industry. I know nothing about hits and flops. All I knew is, I worked hard on Aks. And I was lucky to work with actors like Mr Bachchan and Manoj Bajpai in my first film. Two years later people stop me on the roads, send me e-mails about Aks. The movie continues to give me so much.
Q: Aren't you planning a director's cut of Aks?
A: Yes, it could do with a little bit of sharp editing. I'll re-edit the film and see how it goes. I know there's a better cut waiting there. I've the new edit pinned on my board. I look at it every morning.
Q: Weren't you planning projects with Mr Bachchan and Manoj?
A: Amitji , definitely...whenever destiny permits. I'm ready to work with him any time. I owe everything to him. In the mean time I had this script for Rang De Basanti. I had been researching it for seven years. I wrote it for three-four years. Then we narrated it to Aamir....
Q: Was he your first choice?
A: No he wasn't. But when he heard Rang De Basanti he said yes there and then. He said he had never done anything like this. He believed in the script so much. It's an entirely new character for him... Then there is Madhavan who has a cameo.
He's the catalyst in the film. Then there're Kunal Kapoor, Atul Kurkarni, Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Alice Patten and Siddharth Suryavanshi. If the cast suggests a different kind of film, then it is.
Q: What's Rang De Basanti about?
A: It's a film about today's generations, their likes and dislikes. What they stand for and what they believe in. This one takes me as far away from Aks as possible. Of course there's a certain style—good or bad—that I'm bound to follow. I realized that while shooting this film.
Q: Did you consciously move away from the style of Aks?
A: Not really. Out of the three scripts that I had in mind, Rang De was a drama, Paanch Kaurav was a caper about five thieves, and Dilli 6 is autobiographical. Delhi-6 is the pin-code for the place where I grew up.
Q: Will you play yourself?
A: You must be joking. You've to see how stiff I get in front of the camera.
Q: And Aamir?
A: He has been a lifetime's experience. I've grown with him. It's great fun to direct an actor who has a mind of his own.
Q: Wasn't there supposed to be an English version of Rang De Basanti?
A: Yes, we toyed with the idea of making Paint Me Yellow, then dropped it. It was the wrong title anyway. Good it didn't happen. I even tried to do an English draft of my script. It felt alien. I realized you can tell a film in just one language.Q: How does Aks compare with Rang De Basanti?
A: How does one compare two of one's children? One is good in Maths, the other in Geography. Rang De Basanti is a younger film. But I didn't consciously choose a subject that would be more accessible to audiences than Aks. I knew I had to make this film.
Since Aks my storytelling technique has improved. You learn from your past mistakes and new experiences. This time I'll be a slightly better story. This time I had the luxury of living with my script for four years.
So many people have joined me on this journey to the completion of Rang De Basanti. It's no longer my film. When it releases it will become the audiences' film. It's very important to communicate what's in my head to the viewers. I hope I've done that in Rang De Basanti.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: I've been highly influenced by films, not filmmakers. I haven't assisted anybody.