May 20, 2002 
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Hansal Mehta
'No stars, no songs!'
Director Hansal Mehta prefers to chart his own course

Kshama Rao

His directorial debut Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, despite being technically good, bombed at the box office.

Hansal Mehta disappeared from the scene, only to resurface with three films in his kitty.

Chhal is ready for release, and he is shooting Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai, said to be a fun story, at a feverish pace to meet a July deadline.

Then there is, on contemporary marriages for producer Feroz Khan. The film stars Fardeen Khan and Celina Jaitley.

A sneak preview of Chhal reveals it to be a gangster film with a cop infiltrating an underworld gang and bringing it to book. The film stars Kay Kay [who plays cop Karan Menon] and Prashant Narayanan [as gangster Girishbhai].

The film talks about a cop who has to walk the thin line between law and crime to nab the gang.

A still from Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar Says Mehta, "When people heard about Chhal, they thought was another Company (which is also about the underworld). Some even started comparing the two. I think they do that because in our film industry we don't have too many films of a particular genre. So the last successful film of that genre is considered the yardstick for the others to follow.

"I'm sure people are comparing Ram Gopal Varma's Company to his previous film Satya --- actually, they are two completely different films, exploring different things."

"Chhal is an unabashed entertainer and it certainly doesn't glorify the underworld," says Mehta. "The way the film is written [by Suparn Verma] and packaged, it has lent itself a unique sensibility. With Chhal, there is an attempt to create a yardstick for, say, an action thriller flick which I don't have to stand by."

It has been a while since he directed his first film. "After Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, I wrote my own scripts but nothing worked out. Suparn gave me this script, but I refused to even see it.

"I was very upset with industry. My assistants who had read the script told me it had the potential of a good film. That is when I read it. I went to my producer Nitin Patil who was earlier going to make and asked if we could make this film instead."

Mehta's conditions were: "No stars --- the star system annoys me, No songs, at least not ones that could be avoided. Action and a start-to-finish schedule."

A still from Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar His producer agreed; the film rolled and was over in 42 days. "I certainly feel every script starts with a good idea, but it gets diluted in the way. If a star is involved, he wants to create something that to boost his image. That kills the storytelling. I have decided I will make films that enhance storytelling, where I don't have to compromise my convictions."

Mehta strongly believes a producer has to trust his director completely and give him a free rein, "because once the director feels he is being confided in, he automatically strives to give a better product, he reciprocates."

Ask him why Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar failed and he attributes it to "not promoting it well. In today's times, promoting and packaging a film calls for great attention. Neither Manoj Bajpai (who acted in the film) nor I were going through a good time. I think one has to just accept failure and go on."

India News Feature Service


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