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The Rediff Interview
Lata Khubchandani |
April 13, 2004
Meenaxi: A Tale Of 3 Cities has fetched director M F Husain a fair amount of applause.
But it required a Tabu to deliver what he had envisioned. Here, Tabu rewinds to the experience that was Meenaxi:
What was your first reaction when the script was given to you?
First of all, it was an honour that he [Husain] approached me to translate his views on film. I knew he would do it in a way nobody would think of, considering his experience as a painter.
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Art is his life. So I knew it would be translated in a completely different form [on celluloid]. The fact that it was a title role was very important. It was also exciting to see how he thinks, how he operates, his take on life and cinema. For me it was exciting to be part of this project.
Both Husains [M F Husain and his son and assistant director Owais] have said they left it to you to interpret the role. How difficult was that?
When I saw their confidence in me I started blossoming. I think in the first few days, you judge whether you are on the right track.
They felt I had understood it, so I gained confidence automatically. I work best when I have complete freedom. But yes, that can be dicey too. I might still understand what the director has envisioned and interpret it differently. I may be completely wrong, so there's no surefire way of knowing if one got it exactly as it was meant.
But the germ of the interpretation lies in the role itself, particularly for a thought like this, which can't be explained in words. I think the freedom of spirit with Husainsaheb happens when he knows that has capable people to put his views on celluloid.
For me it was great that they thought I can do it any which way. It opened an aspect of my mind from where I could explore. Throughout filming, I was exploring my character. They thought it was absolutely fine.
What was your reaction when you saw the finished product?
I can't feel anything for any film of mine. In that sense, I am in a vacuum when I watch myself. I avoid seeing my films as far as possible because if I don't like anything, I can't change it or do it again. So I leave it to the audiences to judge.
I can't be objective about my work because I am so involved that I can't see it as a product to be judged. I can't see it as an outsider. For me the connection with my film is from my heart, from my soul. Nothing else.
How much did you worry about this role?
No worry, no anxiety at all. This was one film I found difficult to view as a film. Maybe because I knew that there was a great personality like Husainsaheb who was far more capable than I could be. So with him I was like a student — I was just having fun. There was no worry.
How many days did the shoot last?
About 60-70 days, not much at all.
After the reactions to Gaja Gamini did you feel burdened that this film might be equally mystifying to audiences?
I will treasure the experience of making this film because of the people involved, because of the whole atmosphere, the way everyone respected the other. It was one of my best filmmaking experiences.