Mahesh Bhatt is known for his fantastic films as a director and a producer. Our Bollywood guide ‘G9 Divya Solgama’ had a privilege to speak to him regarding his latest film ‘Raaz Reboot’, changing times in film industry, turmoil’s related to his personal life and a comparison between his both daughters, Pooja & Alia Bhatt.
Recently you have been making back to back franchise of your successful films. Now that ‘Raaz’ franchise leads the way with its fourth instalment. What’s your take on the specialty of ‘Raaz’ franchise and the reason for you to carry it to this level?
Mahesh Bhatt – The story is very strong. The ‘Raaz’ franchise which took 14 years to create, has a very vast reach and the franchise has proven under all circumstances that it performs. Like in cricket, when your innings staggers, you send your best batsman in to play, just like that, even our innings in a little unsteady and we thought we should send in our that batsman which has reserved the play and made us triumph.
With that hope, we have relight ‘Raaz Reboot’. When I saw the pictures of the on location which the team got after the recce, I was sure that the 4th ‘Raaz’ will also be a success. When you have a successful space with a combination of romance and horror, you present that to the audience and you realise that they enjoy it. One and a half decade is a pretty long time span, a franchise which performs for 15 years, we felt that we should keep this as an ongoing process. When you get content that can be made into a franchise, it proves to be beneficial only. We didn’t go about creating it but once it was created, we felt we should now milk it. We liked the story of this film and we thought that we should make something in the ‘Raaz’space. Like I said, when you have an unstable innings, when your scoreboard is 0 for 2, you get afraid and we look at that batsman that has saved us. ‘Raaz’ is that batsman for us.
As a producer what difference do you see in today’s changing film industry?
Mahesh Bhatt – I was telling this to Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, when he had come to Mehboob to meet me that when I had joined the film industry in 1971, I was 20 years of age; I had seen that the films made during that time were totally different. Films were made on celluloid. Since the time we have entered the digital space the digital age has changed everything. There have been changes not only in the way films are made and received but also in our lives. The amount of changes that have taken place in the past 10 years hasn’t happened in the past 300 years also. Today, it is become easy to make films in many ways, it is easy to exhibit also, but to get people to the cinema hall has become difficult. There’s a sea of entertainment, to reach till the audience and convince them to watch a film is also difficult. This is a big challenge for us. There are so many uncertainties that all the certainty that made you feel secure got washed away with time. Audience is respecting its life. A person doesn’t only give money and watch a film, they also give their time. When you watch a promo, you give it some seconds or minutes of your life. If you don’t like that, you close it halfway. There was a time when the audience was offered substandard products now, fortunately, in this time of competition, the consumer has varied choices. Today, if you have a brilliant content, the chances of it becoming a success are also much more.Money isn’t a major concern for the people who prefer to watch films in multiplexes. We are living in a time of attention economy where you have to make your presence felt to the audience. People are not aware about your existence only. That has become difficult. Ticket pricing isn’t the major issue. The digital content like Netflix still hasn’t entered our space. They just have windows, in the end it is going to us only who make the content. That is one more revolution that is going to happen. We are in that twilight zone where something old isn’t over and something new hasn’t begun.
In the past you made several films based on some important chapters from your personal life. Now that in the times of biopics, can we expect a one on the life of Mahesh Bhatt?
Mahesh Bhatt –I’ve hear my daughter Pooja (Bhatt) is making a biopic. She is my daughter, it is her right,who am I to tell her anything. However she has seen me, and whatever she has felt, she will make it based on her experiences. She will try to tell my story. First, I should understand my story.
Alia has been balancing her career fantastically by being part of commercial as well as content driven films. As a father and a director how do you describe her career?
Mahesh Bhatt –She is brighter than me. She was fortunate that she started her journey with Karan Johar. He is an A-lister, a director of contemporary, young and modern India. He is also very intelligent. I am extremely happy and proud that without her father’s help, she has had a successful journey till now. After ‘Student of the Year’, ‘Highway’ released and she gave a new director to her life with that film. People didn’t think that a girl who was dancing to Radha (‘Student of the Year’ Song) could do such serious acting also. Then ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ came out with David Dhawan’s son, Varun, it was a very good film. There was good comedy. Then her fourth film, ‘Shaandaar’, was out and was a huge flop.Then ‘Kapoor and Sons’ and ‘Udta Punjab’ were very good films. She surprised me with her performance in ‘Udta Punjab’. A girl who is born and brought up in Juhu (Mumbai suburban area), how could she portray a girl from Jharkhand. When I had gone to Ranchi, the ladies there came and told me ‘your daughter had played a role for a girl from our village, congratulate her and tell her that she spoke well and did a good job’.Featuring on the cover of magazines like Cosmopolitan or Vogue will make the westernised and overseas mind happy but where our roots are, Hindustani, she reached there also. That was one of her biggest achievements, I believe that.‘Udta Punjab’ is the peak of that journey. She is only 22-year-old, her journey has just begun. The savings of a true artist is when even after doing a lot, he reminds himself that he hasn’t done anything. We have made her understand this from our side. She’s a kid and she understands that.
As a producer-director as per you who is a better actress-Pooja or Alia?
Mahesh Bhatt –Alia is a better actor than Pooja. Poojawas never a full-hearted actor. Her heart wasn’t totally there. How much ever she has delivered, was good but Alia is a more committed and focused actress.
Pooja is a good filmmaker.
(Source – Bollywood Times)