AMOL PALEKAR ‘‘I am fed up of acting”
By Jyothi Venkatesh
With Aakriet (Marathi), he made his entry as a director 8 years ago and followed it up with Ankahee (Hindi) After directing two serials in Hindi, Kachchi Dhoop, which introduced Bhagyashree, and Naqaab Amol has now made Thoda Saa Roomanee Ho Jaaye, starring Nana Patekar and Anita Kanwar. Amol has not acted in the film.
For this interview, I met Amol at his residence at Gamdevi in Girgaon. He continues to retain his links with his old surroundings even after he had shifted to his new bungalow at Juhu, eight years ago. “I wanted to make a “musical”. Normally music is associated or connected to some kind of folk songs like in Bhavani Bawai, Jait Re Jait, or Heer Raanjha. I however, did not want to go on those lines. I wanted to make a musical as a “musical” taking the strength of the western concept like the The Fiddler on The Roof and yet retaining its basic innate Indianness. In Kachchi Dhoop, my first serial, the same team had worked together - my wife Chitra, writer Kamlesh Pande who was introduced by me as a writer through Ankahee, cameraman Debu Deodhar and myself as the director. My track record proves that even well - known actors have given their best performances under my direction.
“An actor has got to be on his guard all the time when he is working for a maker with whom he has no faith and naturally tries to protect himself. In my film there is no great disparity between two different actors as far as their characterisations are concerned, unlike in normal films and hence the actor is able to relax, let his hair down and lay in front of the director, thus letting him mould him as per the dictates of the character. For an actor it is a matter of comfort to know that the director wants only the best of him. That has been my strength as a director in Aakriet, Ankahee and Thodasa Roomani Ho Jaaye. Nana Patekar was not the first choice for the film. Amol had finalized Naseeruddin Shah to do the role, which Nana has played in the film. ‘’I wanted either Naseer or Kamal. When Naseer walked out of the film before we could launch it- because, by then, Tridev had become a super duper hit and we could not afford to pay him that kind of a fancy price, which he felt he deserved. I was toying with the idea of asking Kamal to do the film. It was then that Nana walked into my house and asked me why I should not consider him for the role and convinced me. ‘’I am ready to strip and become a naked newcomer and start working from scratch in your film”, Nana told me. As a friend, I asked Nana whether he wanted to shed his image as a villain, even after bagging the national award. When he said that he wanted to prove that he is versatile as he did not want to saddle himself with a definite image, though an image sells in show business, I decided to cast him. The trouble is that we always try to go in for obvious casting. This time, because I was compelled to go in for Nana though I had not planned him, Nana has surpassed not only his, but also my expectations. This is the only film, in which Nana did not even have an argument, forget a fight sequence. We often tend to put actors into slots like Doordarshan does - this is for children’s serials, this is for serials on armed forces, this for crime thrillers. In Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jaaye, I have not used any gimmicks and hence Anita Kanwar’s transformation from an ordinary looking girl to a beautiful girl impresses you. Nana and Anita came every day for rehearsals at my place before the film went on the floors. Anita, especially was coming here every day to practice cycling in our compound, raising many an eye brow.
“Talking analytically about the film, as a director, I now feel that even Naseer or Kamal Haasan would not have been able to lend the film the other dimension which Nana has given as a loveable conman. Naseer and I have no hard feelings at all. After he had walked out of the film, Naseer himself had sent the boy Riju Bajaj, who plays Anita’s younger brother in the film, to me for consideration for the role. I cast him because he was suitable. I always am on the lookout for dependable, good, flexible actors who are ready to put in their 100 per cent faith in me as a filmmaker. I do not believe in giving any message to the audience through my films. My film conveys nothing but the message of hope. I have conveyed the fact that life is still lovely in spite of hassles one undergoes in daily life. I shot the film for 42 days in Pachmari in M.P. It was for the first time that someone was shooting there. I got tremendous cooperation from all there including the armed forces. The dilemma I am facing today, is not whether I should make an art film or a commercial film. I want to make a commercially successful film. Ardh Satya also was a commercial film. Similarly Golmaal, Chotisi Baat and QSQT also were hits. No one wants to be a failure or has the courage to say he doesn’t want success. Though they may be successful films, I cannot bring myself to make Maine Pyar Kiya, Amar Akbar Anthony or Jai Santoshi Maa.
“The problem with us is that instead of being innovative, we try to fit into the existing system to survive in the rat race and are not ready to opt for a change. You cannot sell Spencer Tracey like you sell Rock Hudson.“To take a risk just when an actor is tasting success is great. Even Bachchan stopped taking risks after his Aalaap flopped. Like Nana has shown in my film, Amjad had shown the kind of courage in Shatranj e Khiladi . In spite of his brilliant performance people ignored him. Later Aamir had the courage of conviction to do a Raakh after QSQT. Even Hollywood sells images and clichés, but at the same time they sell Spencer Tracey and Robert de Nero as actors, which unfortunately we have never done in India as we market only names like labels”.
Amol is now working on two serials - one in Hindi called Mrignayani and another in Marathi called Pawul Kona. Mrignayani is about Mansingh and his love for a tribal girl. The love story has been set in the period of the 15th century. Mohan Bhandari and Pallavi Joshi play the central roles. “Pawul Kona will deal with landmarks in Marathi literature which projected the changing face of women over the years from 1890 to 1990. Literary works of writers ranging from Hari Narayan Apte (1890) to Gauri Deshpande (1990) have been included in this 13 episode serious serial starring Durga Jasraj and Chitranjan Kohatkar.”