'Sanjeev Kumar had been considered for Saaransh'
'I have turned my back on film direction. That is a closed chapter.'
'But I will continue to make films because I feel that there is a need in the Indian audience to watch movies of both kinds -- the escapist films that comfort them and also the movies that jolt and trouble them.'
Mahesh Bhatt discusses one of his best directed films, Saaransh.
Mahesh Bhatt's Saaransh completed 30 years on May 25.
Starring Anupam Kher, Rohini Hattangadi and Soni Razdan, the film tells a tragic tale of an old couple, trying to come to terms with their young son's sudden death.
We mark the film's anniversary by speaking to the ace director, who shares interesting facts about the film. Patcy N listens.
What motivated you to make a film like Saaransh?
When I made Saaransh, my temperament was essentially that of a person who deals with serious issues.
I was inclined towards issues like death, rebirth, idea of God... these were the things that would weigh me down as a young boy.
At that particular stage, I had experience of the demise of somebody very close. (The death of the young son of Bhatt's spiritual guru, U G Krishnamurti, of cancer.)
I had also seen an elderly Maharashtrian teacher and his wife grapple with the death of their son.
I made a fictional tale and put those concerns that weighed me down into that story. That is how Saaransh became a significant film.
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Image: Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi in Saaransh
'At the young age of 28, Anupam Kher played a 65-year-old man'
Was Sanjeev Kumar supposed to be a part of Saaransh?
Anupam Kher was supposed to do Saaransh and he had been preparing for the role for long.
But Sanjeev Kumar was also considered for the film as Rajshri Productions wanted a safer actor, in terms of star value.
Since Anupam Kher fought me to the neck, I did not drop him and continued with my original cast.
Do you think Sanjeev Kumar would have been a better choice?
There is no actor better than Anupam Kher to play the role of B V Pradhan in Saaransh. He has proved that by the success of the film.
At the young age of 28, he played a 65-year-old man.
I had the instinct that Anupam had the quality to surrender. I also had an instinct that he would be able to explore his own emotions well to deliver what was expected, and that he would pull off the role very well.
Image: Anupam Kher in Saaransh
'We wanted a girl who looked like an out-of-job actress'
How did Soni Razdan come on board?
Soni Razdan’s role was part of the screenplay. We wanted a girl who looked like an out-of-job actress, who was looking for a job and going through a bad relationship, and she fitted the part.
Soni now does a lot of theatre but she doesn’t do many movies.
She is a different kind of person. She doesn’t do the roles that the Hindi film has to offer. She only does roles that appeal to her.
Image: Anupam Kher, Madan Jain and Soni Razdan in Saaransh
'In 2014, I have again reached the kind of cinema we have been making for last 15 years -- of erotica, thrills and crime'
Why did you not make more films like Saaransh?
My natural inclination at the dawn of my career was to make films like Saaransh.
Since the tastes of the nation underwent a change, I felt compelled to make the films that the nation chose to see.
Changing with the changing times has been the only recipe for survival for any entertainer.
So the cinema that I made in the 80s is distinctly different from the cinema I made in the 90s and at the beginning of the 21st century.
In 2014, I have again reached the acme with the kind of cinema that we have been making for the last 15 years -- of erotica, thrills and crime.
Now we feel after Aashiqui 2’s success, there is an audience there that will embrace the kind of cinema that I used to once make.
That is why we made a film like Citylights.
Image: Anupam Kher, Soni Razdan, Rohini Hattangadi in Saaransh
'I have turned my back on film direction'
Why don’t you direct films any more?
I have turned my back on film direction. That is a closed chapter.
But I will continue to make films because I feel that there is a need in the Indian audience to watch movies of both kinds -- the escapist films that comfort them and also the movies that jolt and trouble them.
These two streams will now run parallel.
Image: Soni Razdan and Rohini Hattangadi in Saaransh