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'Filmdom is full of Manmohan Singhs'

December 06, 2007 13:00 IST

His last film, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, opened to rave reviews. He even played a villain in Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal.

Meet director Sudhir Mishra, whose latest film, Khoya Khoya Chand is all set to hit the marquee this Friday. Starring Soha Ali Khan and Shiney Ahuja, the film is an ode to the Bollywood of the 1950s.

And on December 5, his fans got to quiz him on the film and more during a lively chat. For those who missed the chat, here's the transcript. Excerpts:


Sudhir Mishra says, Hi everyone, this is Sudhir.


 

kkkk asked, hi sir..wats uor next project
Sudhir Mishra answers,  This is releasing on December 7 -- see it in the first week. The one after that is Tera Kya Hoga Johnny.


 

maheshwaran asked, who wud have been better for Nikhat - Vidya Balan or Soha Ali Khan? Please dont be diplomatic, be frank
Sudhir Mishra answers, Not being diplomatic at all. This is definitely in hindsight. Soha is perfect because you have to play an 18-year old. She's a struggling actress whose mother is peddling her in the studios of Bombay in the 1950s, her rise to stardom, her affair with the reigning superstar, her tumultuous relationship with the writer/director, who confronts her and makes her realise that she's using the star as well. Then there is her slight fall, her alcoholism and then her recovery. You require a person who plays 18 and 25, has to have vulnerability, and then the poise of a superstar towards the end. Soha's perfect for the role.


 

drupad asked, hi sudhir, is it possible to list out a few essential things, an aspiring filmmaker must learn?
Sudhir Mishra answers, You must know who you are and what are the kind of stories that you want to tell. You should not be pretentious and succumb to your peer group. You must sit alone at night in front of a blank page and figure out what is it that you love. For example, if you like romantic comedies, don't try and make a Federico Fellini film. Cinema is simultaneously an act of arrogance and humility.


 

srika asked, you have come a long way from ye wo manzil to nahin...from disluusionment to the world of illusion, cinema in kkc...you are already on to your next...is this your creative peak
Sudhir Mishra answers, I don't know about creative peak, but its definitely a time when other people think I'm at my peak. So you have to make the best of it. These days funding me doesn't seem to be as much of a problem as it used to be (smiles). It's a great time and I really believe that I can be as young as I want to be. I can pretend I'm permanently 29.


 

ideaunique asked, Why don't you approach AAMIR KHAN with a good script?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I don't know why the male stars of this industry have this reservation about me. Maybe it is the fact that my male characters are slightly flawed, they make mistakes. But the women characters are stronger. Of course, if there's a film I think Aamir can do, I'd love to work with him.


 

Manonra asked, what do you think of Karan Johar's cinema?
Sudhir Mishra answers, It's romantic fluff and for whatever its worth, its quite good. He manages to stay true to what he wants to do minus a bit of the manipulativeness. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is not a bad film at all.


 

mks asked, Why u always make art film, why not mainstream movie?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I have no condescension toward mainstream films, and I think Khoya Khoya Chand is a tribute to the best of popular cinema. See it and tell me what you think about it. But if I try and pretend to be someone else, I'll fall flat on my face, like I did in Calcutta Mail.


 

Funtoosh asked, Hello sir, looking at the genre of your movies, we would really like to see you making a movie on today's youth and their interpretation of life, are you planning any movie on this?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I am. I've been thinking of rewriting Yeh Woh Manzil. I'm trying to see that kind of student movement that existed then, in the context of today. I seriously do think that I will do this, in the next year.


 

hihihi1 asked, who has compose the music of ur film?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I'm very involved. It's very important because music can change your film totally. It has such a strong emotional connection. You have to be very careful. I discuss the music and lyric a lot with the music director, and it takes a long time. The music of Khoya Khoya Chand took about three months.


 

harsha asked, hi sudhir mishra sir. How are you? What can one expect in this movie? I'm not a movie buff, but i like OSO... and other such creative movies....what is HKA' about?
Sudhir Mishra answers, If you like different kinds of films, then you should go in with different expectations.


 

paritosh asked, By the time baanwra mann starts playing at the end of HKA, I am in tears. Everytime! I hope KKC lives up to the benchmark set by HKA.
Sudhir Mishra answers, I hope so too, but it's a different film. It's much softer. Write to me later and let me know if it met your expectations.


 

Sharad asked, Sir , why dont you make a movie on the political situation in Kashmir -- I have a wonderful story to narrate and can send it to you if you are interested
Sudhir Mishra answers, First, get it registered.


 

AjayShukla asked, have u given saurabh shukla a signiicant role in khoya khoya?
Sudhir Mishra answers, Yes I have, and he's fantastic. He's one actor I don't have to work on. You just have to explain the part and he's there. I think he's brilliant in the film.


 

iceedted asked, Hi Sudhir, Loved Is raat ki subah nahi and Hazaroo.. All the best for Khoya Khoya chand I request you to make a thriller with the tempo of the first half of calcutta mail.
Sudhir Mishra answers, I'm so glad you like the first half, I quite like it myself -- except a couple of songs in between. And I will make a thriller.


 

asit asked, sir, do u think it is essential to have star power in your movie to ensure success or atleast for an opening at the BO ?
Sudhir Mishra answers, Well, it doesn't hurt. But the point is that if you have the star power, can you make the movie that you want? In the end who decides the film, the star or you? If you're a director who has absolute control and the star comes to you, it's wonderful.


 

chintamani asked, Sudhir, I loved your depiction of characters in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. When I talk to my parents and his generation, I see that such characters sound so real. I would like to know what kind of research do you put into such character building? And how much is training important in this aspect or is it a very natural thing, and not trained
Sudhir Mishra answers, In my case, it's just the good fortune of my background. I have all sorts of people in the family -- from the village, middle-class clerks, bureaucrats etc. It's the good fortune of knowing a lot of people. It's also, again, being a dreamer. You sit alone and look at people -- and sometimes that gets quite embarrassing because they think you're staring (smiles).


 

Amit1234 asked, hi sudhir sir, is this film is based on love story and strugle of mina kumari
Sudhir Mishra answers, No. Though it's a tribute to all those wonderful actresses, some elements of their lives are in there.


 

navin asked,  How will you desribe ur movie in 3 words?
Sudhir Mishra answers, Khoya Khoya Chand.


 

Jayakrishnan asked, Hi Sudhir, do you think "India Shining" is a lie? Isnt it propaganda by the Government and the media to make us work harder?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I don't think it's shining in many places.


 

Kuldip Singh asked, A very good afternoon Sir, My question to you is that we recently saw Om Shanti Om which again had a 70s ka setting and Khoya Khoya chand's is set up in the 70s, as OSO was a complete commercial-masala movie but promos of KKC are lacking tht commercial value...why?
Sudhir Mishra answers, The promos reflect what the film is. But my request is that if the promos haven't provoked you, still please go and see it!


 

vivek tewari asked, Hi sir, Is Raat ki Subah nahin inspired me so much that I took filmmaking as my career. I really thank you for that. What is one tip you want to give to aspiring filmmakers
Sudhir Mishra answers, Make your own stories.


 

deepsin asked, which r ur fav hollywood movies??? u seem to be the the only director who does not steal scripts from them though............
Sudhir Mishra answers, All the films by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Sam Mendes.


 

vinod1 asked, Hi Sudhir. I am writing a script which is turning out to be like catcher in the rye. it is totally set in indian context. i want to produce and direct this. I can even put some of my money into this.. can you guide me to do this....
Sudhir Mishra answers, You'd have to come and meet me.


 

ads asked, How long has it taken you to get a stronghold in the industry? Did you have any film connections when you began this journey?
Sudhir Mishra answers, Not at all. I came and assisted Vinod Chopra. Kundan Shah would come and work in my house because his wife would think he wasn't writing the script of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, but wasting his time. So he would come to my house to write, and I started writing with him. That's how it began.


 

vbv asked, Hi Sudhir, in your film - Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi, I could sense a metaphor for the three leading people in an economic sense. The socialist policies we had was reflected in KK, the lady was the protoganist and a metaphor for the Indian middle class. shiney reflected the capitalist and the opportunist in most of us. I had read "India Unbound" by Gurcharan das and could see these parallels. Can you tell me if this was intentional? Or were you just looking at a political commentary and it turned out to be a coincidence on the economic front as well?
Sudhir Mishra answers, There were different economic points of view at that time, and people veered towards one or the other. People always escape ideologies, and they became much more than a reflection of their economic beliefs. And the KK character was an extremely radical revolutionary of the Maoist variety. That's the way it was in terms of the ideologies.


 

deepsin asked, i loved the music of ur film 'is raat ki subah nahin' Did u ever work with M.M kareem after that???
Sudhir Mishra answers, No I didn't, but I really wished to.


 

Sanku asked, Mr Mishra; In your interview to Rediff; you rate Gurudutt as a also ran (what ever be the words you use); don't you think that your choice of best films demonstrates that you are a person not really connected with Indian ethos? Even HKA was a elitist Delhiwalla take on reality in Bihar; part true part nonsense. Why are you so disconnected?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I showed the film in Patna, and the Biharis didn't think so. Though the characters you followed in the film were elitist Dilliwalahs, the viewpoint wasn't.


 

Jayant asked, hi sudhir, any particular reason for working with shantanu moitra and swanand kirkire in every film of yours?
Sudhir Mishra answers, This is just the second film. You relate well. Swanand has even been my assistant, and written the dialogues from Chameli. So I can kinda take credit for him. Hazaaron is Shantanu's first film. We work really well together. See Khoya Khoya Chand and you'll know.


 

sahuja asked, Sir..... heard that its first time u have given the climax as a song...would be interesting...
Sudhir Mishra answers, Yes. When we think of films of the 50s and 60s,the main things we remember are the songs. Even at the end of Kaagaz Ke Phool, though the feeling is one of despair. In my films the medium rejuvenates the characters, and in Kaagaz Ke Phool it kills them. If anything, this film is also a tribute to the films of Guru Dutt, while not being based on his life, or copied from any of his films.


 

Amit1234 asked, I like your performance in madhur bhandarkar films traffic Signal ,are you are playing a vital role in this film also
Sudhir Mishra answers, No, I'm an extra.


 

asrana11 asked, why not bollywood comes with some new idea in the story line? Bollywood industry just copy the hollywood movies direction style and script
Sudhir Mishra answers, That is for you to determine as an audience. Go see films like this, make them successful and the funders will start backing original ideas. when ripoffs do great business. This happens all the time. It's really up to you.


 

jerene asked, U HAVE ALWAYS MADE WOMEN ORIENTED FILMS ? WHY SO ?
Sudhir Mishra answers, Women always understand the idea of loss better. They're not always strutting around and expecting the shops to close down; they understand being wrong. The journey is much more interesting. Also women don't expect the world to change when they wish it to. Therefore in HKA the only person that remains whole is Geeta. That said, Dharavi is a male protagonist film, and so is Is Raat.


 

mithun lookalike asked, yes sir..we will definately go and watch KKC..only if u watch No smoking with us..hahahah
Sudhir Mishra answers, I will. That's a promise!


 

navin asked, Do you love serious movies only?
Sudhir Mishra answers, No, not at all. I love comedies. I even like the earlier work of David Dhawan -- Aankhen, for instance. And I love Munnabhai. One of my all-time favourite directors is Woody Allen. And in India I'm a big fan of Kishore Kumar.


 

paritosh asked, Can you please try to convince Chitrangada Singh to act again? :-)
Sudhir Mishra answers, I think I've managed. Wait for an announcement very soon. Though it's not because I convinced her, but because she wants to.


 

vivek tewari asked, Sir, people tell me filmmaking is nothing but money making business and to become a successful filmmaker you should keep your creative hunger aside and walk the way people are walking, Its painful when people tell me to come out of this dream world, fantasy, Brham and see filmmaking as a business. Do you agree with this?
Sudhir Mishra answers, It's up to each individual. But I promise you that the camera, the medium, is a very difficult mistress. It exposes you and you can rarely do anything that is not inherently within you.


 

vbv asked, Can we get more satires in the Bollywood like Jaane Bhi do Yaaron? Its a great movie and has great timing, essential to a comedy. you could have used "We shall overcome" instead of translating it to Hindi
Sudhir Mishra answers, Yes, we should. And I think you will, because as younger people come in, the myth that comedies don't work is broken.


 

playpoet asked, why have your films been predominantly "dark"? can we expect a comedy from you in the future?
Sudhir Mishra answers, Have they? The end of Dharavi is that the taxi driver starts over again; in Chameli the couple meets again; in HKA, Chitrangda is loyal to Vikram and takes care of him when he needs her most -- so what's so dark about that? I agree I don't make pulpy candyfloss films, but the other 200 films in Bollywood are that, so why do you want more?


 

ads asked, Since you assisted Vinod Chopra I have to ask you this- dont you think Khamosh was one of the most promising and thrilling films ever made? I dont think his subsequent films matched upto it at all
Sudhir Mishra answers, I think so. I acted in it and I still think it's probably the best suspense thriller.


 

AJ asked, Hello Sudhir, I liked your blog postings on passionforcinema.com. Do you want to tell us more about Tera Kya Hoga Johny? The title seems darn interesting
Sudhir Mishra answers, I will. Smriti is very kind and helps me with the blog. After this film release is over, I'll talk about that film. Meanwhile, if you don't want me to go into a depression, go watch this film (laughs).


 

AMIT1 asked, I am gre8 fan of the so called offbeat movies but its true none of them have been huge commercial hits .Is there any way to make these films and attract audiences. Vishal Bhardwaj was succesful in Omkara to an extent
Sudhir Mishra answers, These films release now, and it's really up to you to see them and make them successful. The audience has a responsibility and you have to go and see them in the first week so they are not taken out. Please, it's about time the audience accept their responsibility.


 

vbv asked, In my humble opinion sir, we need a Manmohan Singh in the film dom. Someone to liberate the filmdom from the leftist leanings to represent true Indianess. What's your opinion, sir?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I think filmdom is full of Manmohan Singhs. I don't think it's controlled by leftist leanings. Bollywood today epitomises the free market.


 

sania asked, For a sensible filmmaker like you your selection and then vigorous defence of sending Eklavya for Oscar does not make sense. Do you actually thing Eklavya was a worthwhile movie?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I think it was a well-made film. If you are talking about the Oscar controversy, then in the context of the films available, more people thought that this film should represent India. I seriously think that smaller films like the ones from Kerala and Bengal should represent India at the Oscars, and the American Academy should realise that they should take more than one film from a country as big and diverse as India.


 

premal asked, y do u want us to revisit an old era when filmmakers across the worlds are progressing to newer genres n themes??
Sudhir Mishra answers, Genre is different from era. You can make a really modern film about a bygone time. Please remember, what is present is not always what is modern.


 

sahuja asked, Sir... heard that u have removed soha from the devdas..
Sudhir Mishra answers, No, she wasn't there. People just write about things before they are finalised. The character of Chandramukhi is now not an Indian character.


 

Bergman asked, You said you like Woody Allen's films. But if u have noticed his films, romance is just a setting for most of them. Most of the drama in his films arises out the vulnerabilities of the players, their personal deficiences and their drawbacks... Why do troubled romances in our films always have to seek refuge under an extra-marital set-up ? Are we just perfect people being attracted to other people while in a relationship?/
Sudhir Mishra answers, Woody Allen is all about 'I don't want to belong to a club that accepts me as a member' and he believes all human beings suffer from that idiocy.


 

Roshan asked, I still think Dharavi is your best film. Doesn't the city draw you anymore with its grime and dreams? Roshan
Sudhir Mishra answers, It does, and Tera Kya Hoga Johnny is all about Mumbai now wanting to be Shanghai.


 

rcg asked, hii sudhirji...is shiney ur lucky mascot?/
Sudhir Mishra answers, He works in my films and suits some characters that I think of. Also, I'm really comfortable with him as an actor.


 

Bergman asked, Why is there a dearth of personal films in India? The guilt in Bergman's Films or the personal images in Fellini's films. Why do you feel directors here have to peep into a alien world to churn out ideas? Is the audience unsympathetic, are the directors not adventurous enough or are our lives too morose to be captured on celluloid?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I don't know about the lives being too morose, but the other reasons you mentioned are both valid.


 

navin asked, If not too personal, can you tell me your favorite thinker/ author?
Sudhir Mishra answers, My favourite author is a man called EL Doctorow, and the novel I recommend to everyone is called The Book Of Daniel. Though Ghalib is not far behind.


 

vijay vedala asked, What prompted the National Awards jury, headed by you i guess, to nominate Saif Ali Khan as the best actor for hum tum. If i'm not wrong Saif didn't mind receiving the award for the best comedian for the same film prior to receiving the national award.
Sudhir Mishra answers, In a year when there was no Mammootty performance, or Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah)or Om (Puri), we decided to give an award to a performance characterised by ease, naturalness and spontaneity. We always give Best Actor awards to "heavy and serious" kind of performances, though all acting teachers and most directors would say the comic performances are the more difficult ones. So actually you should congratulate this jury. And this was two years ago, and since then Saif has been acknowledged as a pretty good actor -- we were the first ones to say so.


 

prakash asked, Sudhir ji, your movie is based on 50s and 60s but how come that music legend duo Shanker-Jaikishan have been totally ignored. Lot of footage is given to MDs other than SJ. Is it fair considering SJ have re-written the grammar of music in 50s and 60s?
Sudhir Mishra answers, I don't know whether they've been ignored or not. But one story stops you from telling other stories. It's difficult to include everybody. But I think the last song has some element of S-J in it.


 

Narinder asked,  Sir i like ur title of film khoya khoya chand
Sudhir Mishra answers, The moon we are in search of, as filmmakers, is a bit lost, unclear: Why are we in the movies? Why are we killing ourselves trying to make film? But the point is, we do. So as the song goes, we are all in search of a new pain. And that's true of life and movies, and every time you fall in love.


Sudhir Mishra says, Okay, been great talking to you. Come watch the film, please. Like they say, It's up to you.