Doing it their own way... .
Two film-makers. Two young men who dared to step beyond the tried and the trite. Two men who did not distinguish themselves in academics but have been more than passably good in their films were in Delhi this past week. ZIYA US SALAM sp eaks to the duo -- Satish Kaushik and Ram Gopal Varma - to get a glimpse into what goes on in the minds of unusual men... . |
ACADEMIC FAILURE does not necessarily mean curtains in life. Well, we all know that. After all, was not the great Beethoven dubbed a "hopeless composer" by his teacher while Abraham Lincoln could not even get into a law school. Not to forget Einstein who was thrown out of many schools. Bollywood also has its own success stories. Of men and women who did not distinguish themselves in the world of academics but went on to carve out their own niche in films. Two such men were in Delhi this past week. Men who failed to come up to the expectations of their teachers and parents, yet went way beyond anybody would have imagined when they started their own lonely caravan.
Well-known actor-director Satish Kaushik who had once delivered a dud called "Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja" and later retrieved some of the lost ground with "Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai", "Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain" and "Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai" had actually enrolled for Chemistry Honours at Jamia Millia Islamia University before opting for the less demanding B. Sc. General at Delhi University's Kirori Mal College. Similarly, Ram Gopal Varma whose biggest venture, "Company", hit the silver screen at cinema halls across Delhi, flunked twice in his engineering tests before charting his own course with "Shiva", the Nagarjuna-Amala starrer which established him as a director with an insight into cinema.
A product of National School of Drama, Satish Kaushik does not mince words. And he has an endearing ability to laugh at himself. "I was very poor at English in school. Once I had gone to see a play called `Saved'. I took it as `Saved', just like Javed or Naved! It was not until I was into theatre myself that I realised that the name of the play was `Saved'!"
A resident of Karol Bagh, Satish Kaushik - now confidently plugging his new offering, "Badhai Ho Bhadhai", scheduled for release next month -- is today a man with his distinct identity in the world of films and fantasies. "I came into films with small dreams. I just wanted to replace Johnie Walker, Mahmood or Asrani. When I saw these guys on the screen, I felt I could do the same. But a visit to the Film Institute in Pune opened the vistas of the mind. I realised that the person behind the camera is more powerful. That excited me. The seed of the director was sowed there. I saw Ritwik Ghatak's films. I saw Kurosava's works. They made films they believed in. I decided to make films I believed in because to survive in the industry you do not need any lofty degree but an ability to reinvent yourself."
For evidence, he quotes the simple boy next-door character played by unsung Tusshar Kapoor in "Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai" last year. "In many ways that character is inspired by my life."
If Satish Kaushik showed the presence of mind to derive from his own life for the reel life, Ram Gopal Varma did likewise. Only thing is he borrowed from the experience of his classmate in college. A batchmate was desperately in love with a girl without being able to make a career for himself. Varma used liberally from the experience of the guy to carve out the character of Munna in "Rangeela". Just going to show that being slow in academics does not necessarily mean being tardy all over.
Says Ram Gopal Varma, whose parents were not exactly enamoured of his decision to join the film industry: "I tried my hand at engineering but flunked twice. I huffed and puffed my way through for them. However, I remember during my college days, I would bunk classes and watch films. The world of films always excited me. To this day, I want to make larger than life films. I can recall the sequences of all my films. I live my films. I breathe my films. They possess me. This is the only vocation I know of."
G.P. Sippy's "Sholay" is a particular favourite of the man who has "lost count of the number of times" he has seen this film. "When I was young I would watch so many films. I had this ability to recall the film with some suitable additions and deletions to keep the listeners interested. The reaction of my first listeners told me that I could tell a story and keep people interested. Yet he claims, "I cannot make a family drama. I find them it slow and boring."
Both the self-made successful men have a word of praise for the Indian audience. Says Varma: "The audience can smell a good film. I don't agree that bad films are made because the audience is ready to accept them." Chips in Kaushik: "The audiences need a change. They want something different. The element of drama has been over-done."
"I have never claimed that I have made great films. But I am a keen student of cinema I would like to make a comedy like `Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron'. I want to make films like Charlie Chaplin, that is films with laughs and emotion."
Varma though has no intention of launching any new film just now. He has left that to his understudies like Chekravartay whose "Durga" release recently and Rajat Mukherji who made "Pyar Tune Kya Kiya" and is now ready with another project. For someone who made it on hos own, he has played a catalyst to the careers of many others, including Urmila Matondkar, Fardeen Khan and Vivek Oberoi. "I cannot claim credit for their good showing. I cannot make a tree trunk act but if I see a spark in somebody I go right ahead irrespective of his track record."
Yes, this ability to see things which elude others is what sets Varma and Kaushik apart from lesser mortals. They are unusual film-makers not because they started in a humble fashion but because they dared to dream big. And stepped beyond the confined of Karol Bagh. And Vijaywada.
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