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|July 16, 2001||
'Kareena and Jackie: surprise packages of my film!'
Tanmaya Kumar Nanda
Across the United States, Indians have a favourite, almost filmi, line: "You can take a person out of India, but you can't take India out of the person."
Unfortunately, this holds true for many things, especially timing.
So when film-maker-director-writer Subhash Ghai arrived a good three-and-a-half hours late for a press conference to announce the release of his latest film Yaadein, it left more than a few people fretting.
When he finally arrived, the oganisers failed to even arrange for a question-answer session after he had spoken. It was only when a few mediapersons insisted on it that a hurried Q & A session was put together.
And that, perhaps, was the redeeming feature, as the noted film-maker relaxed and spoke candidly the latest film from his stable, which has Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor in the lead, and is being released in over 55 theatres in the US on July 27.
In fact, Ghai candidly admitted that he was "ashamed of (my) earlier work. When the restrospective of my work was being shown just now, I literally hung my head in shame when I saw Karma and some of my other films."
The reason, said Ghai, was that "like any other artiste, I also think my latest work is my best to date. All producers say, 'This is my biggest film'. Main bhi wohi kahoonga (I'll say the same thing)," he laughed.
Ghai, whose last two films, Pardes and Taal, were runaway hits in the overseas markets in the US and the United Kingdom, now makes a return to the overseas markets with Yaadein.
The film is about a middle-aged, middle-class family in London and the relationships between parents and children. "Hindi films have always had very boring fathers," joked Ghai. "So I went out and made a film about a modern Indian father, the kind of character that children of even non-resident Indians will see and say, 'That's the way a father should be'."
At the same time, though, cautioned Ghai, the chidlren would also have to take a lesson in how they should behave.
As for the reason behind the growing diasporic accent in his films, Ghai sounds almost unbelievably idealistic: "We are no more local Indians, we are global Indians. We are world-class Indians. And I've seen that Indians abroad are more Indian than someone in Bombay," he said. "We should accordingly open up and give Hindi cinema an international platform."
The director of such successful films as Karz, Hero, Saudaagar, Karma, Ram Lakhan and Khalnayak, however, insists that he was not dependent on the market. "I am making these films because of my need to grow as a director."
Reacting to the issue of the underworld's role in Hindi cinema, Ghai carefully sidestepped the issue, joking about how perhaps the mafia "respects good film-makers."
"In earlier times, there were Robin Hoods who gave to the poor. Maybe some Robin Hood-like mafia respects me, maybe they think I am paying the people in kind, through my film."
The film may also mark the coming of age of Jackie Shroff -- who was given his first break in films by Ghai -- who plays a 44-year-old father of three young girls, the youngest of whom is played by Kareena Kapoor.
"Kareena and Jackie are the surprise packages in the film," revealed Ghai, who is also known for a signature cameo role in each of his own films.
Hrithik Roshan, incidentally, was signed on for the film before Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai went on to become a runaway hit.
If Yaadein can do a repeat, it will reaffirm at least three artists as being at the top in Hindi cinema currently -- Kareena Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Ghai himself.
But that will have to wait till July 27.
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