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|March 27, 2000||
'My retirement still stands'
The man is always in the news. If it isn't for his movies, then it's his views. Outspoken and forthright, that's Mahesh Bhatt for you. The director, who has been saying for a while now that he will limit himself to writing and producing. rediff.com caught up with Bhatt to verify the latest rumour -- the rumour that he's taken up direction once again, this time a film about the life of the controversial writer Taslima Nasreen.
You announced your retirement from directing movies and you're now directing a movie based on the life story of Taslima Nasreen. Why the change of heart?
Yes, I did announce my retirement from direction and that still stands. What I intend doing is writing and producing movies and that is exactly what I'm doing in the movie based on Taslima Nasreen. I'm writing the screenplay for the movie, which is still in its nascent stages.
Why choose Taslima Nasreen?
Well, I think hers is a remarkable story of courage and strength that is seldom seen in women belonging to the middle class in fundamentalist countries. She has dared to raise her voice against the treatment meted out to women and has paid the price for it.
There are people who admire her and the stand she took but when it came to supporting her, they all backed down. She has been ostracised from her land and people and is living in exile. Her life is a unique and fine example of self-conviction and belief. I think it is a very relevant and interesting theme.
I personally feel that religion should be kept private. The moment it is publicised there is bloodshed and violence. I feel it is the believers who are most dangerous for the secular framework of a nation.
Who will play the role of Taslima Nasreen? How far have you reached with the screenplay?
As I mentioned before, it's all in the nascent stages. I spoke to Taslima when she visited India. She's writing a book on her life and has finished the first part of it. However, the turbulent parts of her life are yet to be recorded. Once that is complete, I'll adapt the book to make it in to a screenplay for a movie.
The casting will only happen once the screenplay is finalised, as it only then the character will crystallise and emerge.
Who are you working with right now?
I'm working on writing and producing films under my banner, Vishesh films, along with Mukesh (Bhatt). Right now I'm working with the wonder woman director, Tanuja Chandra, on a couple of movies. I'm also working with Vikram Bhatt, who is a very talented director.
Tell us something about the movies you're working on right now.
I'm writing and producing director Tanuja Chandra's Tumko Meri Kasam with Anil Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee in the lead. Another project with Tanuja is a movie, Apne Dil Se Pucho, with Juhi (Chawla) as the protagonist. This is a very strong woman-oriented movie. Next year I'll be working on a movie with Ajay Devgan. It is a story of the Kashmiri Pundits who have been uprooted from their homeland. Tanuja is the director for this film.
Vikram Bhatt and I are working on Kasoor, a movie with Lisa Ray, Apoorva and Aftab Shivdasani. We're also doing a movie, tentatively titled Dil Ne Kaha, with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. All the above should keep me busy for a while!
Mahesh Bhatt spoke to Aparajita Saha.
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