Vishal Bhardwaj’s four Shakespearean movies were shown at the New York Indian Film Festival. They had wide
appeal. He speaks about making a low
budget movie and how Shahid Kapoor
helped keep the cost low:
Our dialogue/conversation continues
from more than a decade ago in Toronto,
Canada. After so many awards and discussions, how do you feel about the process of
making Haider Time has passed but the
film is still with us and will be with us.
It’s a nice question because I’m going
through these feelings now.
When you are making a film you don’t
have time to think about your feelings.
The fever is so much that you don’t think
Now, the fever has come down but the
intensity of the praise and the awards continue. So, I feel very humbled and thank
god that he gave me this kind of sensitivity
and sensibility to come up with a film like
At that moment, you wonder if there is
some greater power who guides you. You
(I) make so many films but sometimes it
so happens. And, in retrospect, you feel
that maybe you have to be so honest with
yourself when you are making a film, right
from the idea itself. To keep the honesty
alive, I think, is the key I found in retrospect. I didn’t want to compromise even
for a single thread. I just wanted to be
Even if I had to compromise on commercial things — many times you know, if
money was not available for a costume or
something like that — I was very honest in
making my choices.
I saw Haider at a commercial screening.
How do you manage your budget? And
keep the cost low?
Actually, that comes from two things:
One, money spent on what is seen on the
screen. We don’t spend on something
which is off screen.
discipline and the
intention to achieve
something extraordinary. That doesn’t
come just from the director. That comes
from assembling the whole unit: my DOP
(director of photography), my fashion
designer, my costume designer. If you
select the right people, it’s not about the
money. It’s about talent and the intention
of the talent. Money doesn’t bring it.
Otherwise, you keep spending. Even people who spend $75 million or $100 million, do not get the quality of what
Spielberg or a great filmmaker gets when
they have shot the film in only 50 days. We
shoot our films sometimes in 150 days,
even a commercial film. Yet we do not get
the quality of the great filmmaker. So, it’s
the discipline, the talent and the intention
of the talent.
In this case, everyone was willing to
compromise their pay. For example,
Shahid was not paid a single penny
because that was my condition to him. We
have not paid Shahid (Kapoor) until now.
When we make money, we will pay him. I
too did not take any fee for film direction.
We wanted the cost to be very low.
What are you working on next?
I am contemplating what I should do
next. I’m still working out things. I have
many stories I am thinking about. I have
two to three subjects. One is a period film.
A revenge theme film. Another is a children’s film. In a couple of months, I should
Haider made about $1. 2 million in the
United States and Canada. Your film was
such a success here. Did it hurt you that
your patriotism was questioned?
No! Actually, it was news to me;
because I know I’m a patriot at heart. I
haven’t made anything unpatriotic.
Actually, it amused me because it is such a
hypocritical society. It can’t disturb you
left wing (people) and right wing (people)
making so many stupid (comments) and
you see through it.
It is not that a left wing (person) or a
right wing (person) is right. Everyone is
the same. Whenever they get the opportunity, they do what suits them. It is very
As a film maker, would you say you are
satisfied, with the distributors, etc.
You know actually with freedom comes
with responsibility, as they say. The more
responsible we become, the freer you will
be. When I say responsibility, it is
responsibility towards the money man
also. The person who has put in money in
your dream, if you are responsible
towards his commercial input, then you
will be free.
If he puts in Rs 10 crores ($1.6 million)
and he doesn’t even get back his Rs 10
crores ($1.6 million), you are irresponsible. (I am) being very practical about it. I
don’t make films for the masses, not senseless films. It’s not just about making
It’s a very common sense kind of thing.
If I am economical towards the money,
they will have trust in me.
You are known for your admiration for
composer R D Burman…
He influenced a whole generation of
people: a whole generation of my contemporaries and me. He was a great phenomenon. He was a magician. His compositions
are so great.
Tell us about the excitement of compos-
ing music for the Broadway show
Monsoon Wedding. The movie, Monsoon
Wedding, is one of my all-time favorites.
Tell us about your involvement.
Yes, we have been working on this for
the past five to six years. I am very excited.
It’s a totally new experience for me and
I’m really, really excited and looking forward to the year. We have already done
Act I and we’re composing for Act II.
It goes to Berkeley Rep in August 2016
for the previews. We’re very excited to
work on that. Then we will head to
ÂI donÊt make films for the masses, not senseless filmsÊ
Vishal Bhardwaj discusses patriotism, Haider,
film budgets and future projects with.
Arthur J Pais/India Abroad.
Haider, above,directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, was the last film in the director’s Shakespeare trilogy.
CINEMA WITH A SOUL/NYIFF M4 THE MAGAZINE