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March 9, 2000

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'I hope Phantom... is my next film'

Shekhar Kapur He isnít the producer, he isnít the director, and heís definitely not going to be acting in it. Yet, he is very much a part of it.

"Bombay Dreams is born out of a friendship," declares Shekhar Kapur, referring to his association with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Kapur will be in the picture, as he says, only to bring everybody together. "And Iím happy doing just," he adds.

While this musical is still in a preliminary stage, Kapur has his hands full with other things. He will soon be directing Phantom of the Opera and is also one of the directors of a venture capital fund -- something not too many people know about.

Although Kapur announced he would rather have the questions thrown at him during the press conference, he was polite enough to talk later on a whole range of subjects.

The response to Elizabeth in India hasnít been all that great. What do you have to say about that?

I can only guess about it. I know the response has been very good in Calcutta. Everybody has seen the film. All my friends have seen it either on DVD or on the cable. And I know that the day Cate Blanchett was here, when I took her home and switched on the television, Elizabeth was being shown on the cable. Actually, there was so much hype around it that when it was finally released, it did not seem to live up to it.

But after all the controversies, the film was released with the cutsÖ

There was one cut that would have significantly altered the narrative of the film. But it was finally agreed upon reducing one of the love-making scenes. For me, as long as it was there, that was great. The other thing that they asked for was to just remove the word 'quinny' from the sub-titles. That was it, thatís all they asked.

ELizabeth But I refused to edit the scene which shows heads being chopped off. If that scene were to be removed, the movie would not have made sense. People would not have understood anything, the narrative would have been distorted.

When will you start filming Phantom Of The Opera?

Andrew and I are having a meeting tonight. We are working on a new writer. Heíll be sending me a new draft in three weeks time. I really hope that this is the next film Iím going to shoot. And what about the cast for the film?

We have a tentative cast. Andrew and I have agreed that Antonio Banderas will be playing Phantom. We are looking out for a new girl to play Christine. The girl has got to be absolutely stunning. But we havenít decided whoís going to play Raoul yet.

How do you feel about Manoj Shyamalan getting Oscar nominations?

It's great, I think he has made a very good film.

Do you think he has a better chance to win the Oscars because he is an American citizen?

Thatís too controversial, I wouldn't want to say anything!

Have you met Shyamalan?

No, but I have spoken to him.

What happened to the entertainment company that you were going to start with Parmeshwar Godrej?

Well, Parmeshwar and I have to be in the same country at the same time for that. At this moment, there is too much confusion about whatís happening. I get about five calls a day -- 'please direct my film,' 'my entertainment company is going to become public, would you like to be the director? -- and so on.

The entertainment business in India has suddenly decided to come out of its teens. Itís become mature and doesnít know where to go (from here). Itís feeling a little desperate now. Everywhere you see advertisements saying, Ďwe have 100 hours of software, Ď5000 hours of so and soí and stuff like that. There are too many things happening. Let it all die down, let it all settle down. Weíll still be here, weíll still remain film-makers.

Tell us something about your venture capital fund with Ghulam Noon.

(Looking stunned) Where did you hear about this?

Isnít it true?

Shekhar Kapur and Andrew Lloyd Webber (After a pause) WellÖlook, Iím part of a company that has set up a venture capital fund and is about to be quoted on the London Stock Exchange. Noon is one of the directors and so am I. The idea is to have 50 per cent of the money raised through this fund invested in Indian media and technology companies and 50 per cent outside. Thereís nothing more complicated than that. The fund is called Softtechnet.comÖitís not my name.

One last question. You said you saw Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai -- did you like the film?

Yeah. I liked it. I liked the guy, the boat and also the locations.

Shekhar Kapur spoke to Swapna Mitter and Kanchana Suggu

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