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The Rediff Interview
/ Shashanka Ghosh
He turned his heroine into a man!
Sukanya Verma |
November 12, 2003
He doesn't watch television. The only film he recalls watching in the last four years is Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.
He now makes movies for a living.
What to do? He is like that wonly.
He would be Shashanka Ghosh. The brain behind that catchy one-liner mouthed by one of his creations, Quick Gun Murugan on Channel [V], Ghosh was creative head of the music channel for a while.
Uddham Singh, too, is a product of his madhatter mind.
Originally from Delhi, Ghosh wanted to be a chartered accountant as a youngster. He got into marketing instead. Prodded by a friend to try his luck in advertising, Ghosh took the plunge.
After a decade-long stint in advertising and music channels, Ghosh decided it was time to branch into filmmaking.
His Rs 2.5 crore directorial debut, Waise Bhi Hota Hai Part II, featuring Arshad Warsi, Prashant Narayanan, Sandhya Mridul and Suchitra Pillai is ready to hit the marquee on November 14.
Witty and casual, Ghosh spoke to Sukanya Verma at his office at Mumbai's suburban Juhu:
You were on the marketing scene. How did you land into the music channel scene?
I wanted to be in marketing. I couldn't think of anything more glamorous than that. I got into leather exports. I wasn't doing too well.
Then a friend of my girlfriend told me, "You are such a bull*&^%. You should get into advertising."
After a couple of interviews, I got into advertising. I took on client servicing. I was employed for a day. At the end of the day, I realised there was something called copywriting. I was encouraged to give a copy test.
That's how I became a copywriter for the next five years. Then, over a ridiculous issue, I fought and started looking out for jobs.
I got a job offer from Hong Kong, so I went there. I was 30 then. I was quite shattered to see the efficiency level there. I was used to a human kind of approach. I worked there for four months and I tried to quit three months in that period. After four months, I finally quit.
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A friend of mine had read an article in Playboy that MTV rejects 5,000 scripts in a month. We worked on some scripts and approached MTV. They hired me to make promos for them. Those films did well internationally and India. They won awards everywhere.
Once you become successful, you have to bear the responsibility of doing more of that s*&^.
Then, MTV parted ways with Star TV. I joined Channel [V], which was launched in India.
Did it stagnate at any point?
Everything stagnates. Marriages stagnate. I was exhausted with the short film format, which is the 60-second medium.
I took a two-year break, just to get myself out of the habit of 60-second thought.
How did Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II happen?
The idea of Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II came about from a friend who was working with me at Star TV. He had a friend who was a hitman. Waisa Bhi Hota is also the story of a copywriter and hitman.
Then I started making the story more inventive. I believe strange things happen in life. It is a black comedy. Like the tagline reads not normal urban film.
How would you describe the characters in WBHH II?
For the copywriter's [Arshad Warsi] part, the idea was to take a normal guy. See what happens to him, and not make him heroic in the filmi sense. In comparison to him, the hitman [Prashant Narayanan] comes across as a noble man.
Warsi's character is a wimp in the movie. His wife plays a cop [Sandhya Mridul].
I remember we were shooting a scene when my heroine stormed up to me and said, "F*** you, B******, you have turned me into a man!"
Behind her, the hero [Warsi] popped out and said, "And he's turned me into a woman'.
Did you deliberately choose not to cast stars?
This is my first film. I do not have the requisite experience to deal with date problems and other agenda. We wanted to create something where everyone's priority was the story. So I went in for actors rather than stars.
Wasn't the film originally titled Manohar Kahaniya?
That was the tentative title, but my producer thought it was too down market.
Why is the film called Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II, with a strike against Aisa and then Waisa above it?
The title is more interesting this way. Had I written Aisa Bhi Hota Hai, it wouldn't get noticed the way it did.
How has the response to the film been so far?
The response has been much better than we thought. Kabir Bedi, Subhash Ghai, Bharat Shah and Tiwari [Ghosh's driver] liked the film.
It has songs. It has action. It has emotions. It has drama. It's a MASALA film. We are making commercial cinema here. My version of each of this is different.
So how has your experience as a full-fledged masala filmmaker been?
Traumatic! The thing that hits you is the amount of commitment people put into it.
I have been awed by the discipline and commitment people have shown. I feel like I was the most undisciplined and uncommitted of them all. I was almost inspired to do stuff by everyone around me. That was great.
How does it feel to be a part of Bollywood?
I am still knocking at its door. On the periphery, it's always good.
Did you face any problems while making the movie?
It's not a question of problems. First-timers always do new things.
The whole unit is a first timer -- me, my cameraman, my producer, my writer and half of the music directors. Obviously, it's going to be a departure from the norm. A new thing always takes time to put in play.
Any goof-ups while making the film?
Lots! Lots of goof-ups. At this point, all I can see is the goof-ups. I can't see anything good. I wouldn't like enumerating them. Why would I want to kill people's enthusiasm? Post-release, I'll make those Ram Gopal Varma kind of statements.
He hates all his movies.
So do I.
What do you think makes humour tick in a film?
The technique is you create a ridiculous situation and make the actors do it as credibly as possible. That's the blackness of humour.
What are you trying to say through Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II?
I want to tell the audience that if you have some kind of steadfastness, belief and conviction, and a human approach, things will come. You will get what you want.
It's a very serious message that has been lightly conveyed. There are many, many things in the film that I completely believe in.
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