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Written by Alifiya Khan | Updated: August 21, 2018 12:30:59 am Cinema has a very deep penetration in the society because it entertains you.

The trailer for your next movie, Pataakha, released at midnight on August 15. An adaptation of a short story about two warring sisters draws a parallel with India-Pakistan relationship. Is that your interpretation?

Thats my vision. I read this short story in a bi-monthly compilation of contemporary Indian literature published by the Sahitya Akademi. When we started working on it, we slowly explored that these two warring sisters are like India and Pakistan, since we were not able to find the reason for their fight. Then it struck me, they are like India-Pakistan, they fight without a reason.

Manto and Pataakha are releasing within a week in September. Should cinema talk about political issues more often?

Cinema has a very deep penetration in the society because it entertains you. It becomes the filmmakers responsibility to say things beyond entertainment. So, you draw the audience with entertainment, and tell them something insightful; just like poetry or music does. Cinema is a reflection of the society and shows the inner being of the filmmaker. For instance, Dangal is set in Haryana where female infanticide is so high and here is a film that says: “Mhaari chhoriya chhoro se kam hai ke.” Along with entertainment, such messages should go out.
Dealing with political subjects can get troublesome for the filmmaker too.
Because of the times we are in, people are over-sensitive these days, or rather over-reactive. Right now, they are unleashed too. Also, social media has given people the freedom to say whatever they want to say. Its not always that you will find people supporting you. They will be against you, thats fine.

Given that so much is riding on a film, does it get scary?

More the controversy around a movie, more money it brings. So its good (laughs). Films like Udta Punjab (2016), which was my assistant Abhishek Chaubeys film, have done such great business. Controversies are good; some people try to do it deliberately but they dont succeed.

You came out strongly against the suppression that filmmakers were facing, especially in the wake of the Padmaavat controversy.

How much will you suppress someone? They were doing that to us at the time of Padmaavat. However, they will become a little mild now since the elections are around the corner. This year is going to be calm and mild.

Why has Shakespeare been your constant inspiration?

Its his dramatic writing that draws me. They are very deep. Also, his plays are out of copyright. One has to know ones limitations. I am aware of my limitations as a writer. I dont believe I have that kind of depth which lies in these stories. However, I make them my own; I bring them into my culture and society. Basically, I use their plots and characters. I am currently working on two scripts, one of them is a Shakespeare adaptation. Maybe, it will be my next (directorial outing). Besides, Im also working on Abbottabad, based on Osama bin Ladens exile.

You have worked on adaptations and original films. What do you enjoy more?

Adaptation is easier because the material is already there. When you make it your own, you bring your own personality, feelings and vision into it. Originals are far more difficult but much more satisfying. When you explore an original story, you find the beginning, middle and end. You also create your own characters. Its a different kind of feeling when you find a resolution to your own subject. Its much more satisfying.

The female characters in your movies are intriguing, layered personalities.

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One thing is, I love females (laughs). Once Osho said: Females are stronger than men. Men can be physically stronger, but they are the weaker gender. Whenever a crisis arises, women come out stronger, while men lose their gut. I have seen that in my mother, Rekha (Bharadwaj, his wife) and in my sisters. They follow their heart and we follow our mind. I dont like the hero or superhero characters because they are fake. Women are more real.
A few years ago, when 7 Khoon Maaf (2011) released, it was difficult to make female-oriented movies. They (producers) said if your protagonist is a woman, your budget will be reduced by half. Things have changed now. Deepika Padukone is the star where Ranveer (Singh) and Shahid (Kapoor) look like two heroines around her in Padmaavat. Today, actresses want to know what character they are playing. They dont want to be mere girlfriends, wives or mothers.

Does being a full-time filmmaker interfere with your time as a composer?

Music is my first love; I became a director so that I could employ myself as a music composer. Today, I wish to create more music than movies because the satisfaction I get from making music is spiritual. I want to work outside as a composer, for others films.

You directed two movies based on Ruskin Bond stories. When do you complete the Bond trilogy that you
had planned?

I am producing the third one. An assistant of mine, Aditya Nimbalkar, is directing that. It is called Padduji and is based on his novella, Mr Olivers Diary. It will go on the floors soon.

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