'Our intention was not to make a horny Jism 2'
Mahesh Bhatt is known to speak his mind.
Last week's release, Jism 2 -- which was written by Bhatt and produced and directed by his daughter Pooja Bhatt -- has been panned by critics. He agrees that the film might not have met people's expectations but it has managed to make enough money to be declared a hit.
His production house Vishesh Films is ready to deliver another sequel, Raaz-3. Directed by Vikram Bhatt, starring Emraan Hashmi, Bipasha Basu and Esha Gupta, the film shows the dark side of the film industry.
In this interview, the 63-year-old filmmaker talks to Sonil Dedhia about Raaz 3 that has references from director Vikram Bhatt's own life, and explains why the role of a dwindling movie star is suited to Bipasha Basu.
Jism 2 has not lived up to expectations. Do you agree?
Jism 2 collected Rs 21.25 crore over the weekend. I am predicting that the lifetime business will be around Rs 30 crore, irrespective of the negative buzz.
We have made the film we wanted to make and we are very happy. There is a segment of the audience that didn't like the film and found it very sluggish. People have also said that the content is too mature and doesn't meet the requirement of a fast-paced thriller.
I believe if numbers is the game, no one should point fingers at us. We took an actor (Sunny Leone) who is referred to as a 'porn star', cast her in the role of a porn star, and made a film that delivered at the box office.
The film astounded people on the very first day. Jism 2 was made for Rs 12 crore and has made Rs 21.25 crore, which even its worst critic cannot deny.
I have no problem if the film hasn't met consumers' expectations of being a fast-paced, horny, lustful film. Our intention was not to make such a film.
Jism 2 is a conservative film. First everyone came and told me that I have corrupted Indian cinema by casting a porn star. Then people wanted to see more sex and when I did not include it, they said, 'Why not more sex?'
An artificial Rs 100 crore club has been created, built up by media hype and paid journalists. I know the truth about those films that are claiming to have earned Rs 100 crore.
I am very proud that this film has delivered in spite of political opposition, critical opposition, and a motivated media campaign against the film.
Jism 2 is a closed chapter for me. Pooja (Bhatt) is elated and is celebrating the success of the film. She has made more money than the multinationals that make these multi-crore films.
Image: Sunny Leone in Jism-2. Inset: Mahesh Bhatt
'Sequel guarantees a safety net at the box office'
Vishesh Films has turned into a sequel-making machine.
People are smitten by brands. Brand worship is a reality. The sequel guarantees a safety net of at least 40 per cent of the box-office collection of the original film. This happens because the brand has a recall value.
Films like Jannat 2, Murder 2, and Raaz 2, among others, have all been successful for us. At a time when the only yardstick is the box office collection and the opening weekend collection, we are assured of a good response.
Today, the first three days decide the destiny of the film, after that nothing else matters.
So are you saying you are always going to play safe rather than venturing into new territory?
When there is a good brand in the market, it has its initial appeal. There are too many people involved in a film -- the music label, the distributors -- so it's a cumulative need to feel safe.
We made Blood Money which was a stand-alone film. Although people didn't watch the film, we managed to sail home safely.
We will keep making sequels as I want to create a sense of safety for my investors, a safety for the opening weekend.
There is also the flipside of making a sequel -- that it might not meet people's expectation.
Image: A scene from Raaz-3
'Vikram has brought in certain incidents from his own life in the film'
But everything has an end.
Did I ever say that I want to make a significant change in Indian cinema? When I made a film like Dhoka, no one went to see it. The film dealt with insurgency in the country which is created by the State against the minorities.
People said, 'Kya boring movie banaya hai' (What a boring movie). Why not ask Akshay Kumar what was the reason for making a film like Rowdy Rathore?
I am supposed to be a good money-making machine and so is every person who is doing some kind of work to earn money. The day I stop making money for my investors, I will lose my job.
Is it true that Raaz 3 has a reference to director Vikram Bhatt's life?
Vikram has brought in certain incidents from his own life. He came from a very vulnerable point in his life. He had just come out of a traumatic relationship with an actor. While writing the film he made some references to his own life.
It was not to malign the girl; it was just to show how we in the world of entertainment are so pathetic when it comes to losing it.
Whether it is the heart-breaking story of Rajesh Khanna spiralling down into the abyss, or Vikram's own beloved girl who would throw a fit in the middle of the night because she felt she was losing her stardom. All this is a part of our industry. Celebrities shining at parties and premieres are not the same in real life.
Image: A scene from Raaz-3
'Bipasha is not as safe as she was 10 years ago in the industry'
A lot of films in recent times have shown the rise and fall of a superstar or a supermodel. It's the same with Raaz 3 which depicts the rise and fall of Bipasha Basu's character. Don't you think this theme has been exploited too much?
We have taken the glamour space. The need to tell Bollywood stories is enormous. People are enchanted with it.
There is fierce competition between film stars, and their appetite to stay at the top can make them do anything. We have known people in the industry who have conned or have gone to the extent of killing their associates.
The tagline of the movie says 'When desire becomes evil', which holds so true in the film industry. We have given the film a horror idiom by including black magic.
The story is very true. It also coincides with Bipasha Basu's life where she is feeling the breath of extinction as younger girls have come in and may elbow her out.
Today, Bipasha is not as safe as she was 10 years ago when she came into the industry.
It is said that Jacqueline Fernandez walked out of the film due to certain differences.Jacqueline was going to do the film. After Murder, she had some reservations with the kind of clothes that Vikram wanted her to wear. There is a certain amount of erotica in the film which is necessary. We parted ways gracefully. Jacqueline has the complete right to say no if she is not comfortable.
Image: A scene from Raaz-3
'3D is something that Vikram understand like no one else in Asia'
The film deals with black magic. How much do you personally believe in it?
I believe that human beings can become evil. There is nothing more dangerous than the man himself. The demons that are inside a man are far more demonic than the imaginary evil that he conceives.
I had first thought of the caption 'Horrors of the heart', but no one approved of it. Our tradition speaks about evil and I feel that if you believe in God, you also believe in evil.
Recently, a lot of films were released in 3D but have not been up to the mark. Do you think Raaz 3 will meet expectations?
3D is something that Vikram understand like no one else in Asia. There is a guy called Joe Hey who worked with James Cameron on Avatar. He met Vikram on the sets of Raaz 3 and he was astounded at what we have achieved with 3D at 1/1000 of what they spent.
Unlike the 3D films we have seen so far, this film is a real 3D film. At the same time, 3D is an ornamental thing. It makes bad things look worse and good things look very good.
Image: A scene from Raaz-3