He was in the city for his debut performance on stage at the Odeum Festival 2016. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent caught up with veteran director Mahesh Bhatt at Science City auditorium before he headed to attend musician Ghulam Ali’s concert. Excerpts from the conversation..
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana- Welcome to the city of Kolkata, yet again for your debut stage performance!!
Mahesh Bhatt- Thank you!! Yes it is true that I have indeed been coming to the city quite a lot these days. You may be amazed to hear that Kolkata is high on the list of cities which I am frequenting too much in recent times. There is something about the city which pulls me to it.
The Last Salute marks your debut on stage. What took you such a long time to make this decision?
Mahesh Bhatt- To tell you the truth, I never ever had the slightest inclination to head towards theatre. However, mediocrity and conformity are the two elements which took the soul from Indian cinema away. It was at this juncture that “The Last Salute” happened. It was a good thing that happened to me. Better late than never and here I am with my debut stage performance.
Since you are making your debut with this play, can you throw some light about the play?
Mahesh Bhatt- This in an age of globalization!! When one part of the world is affected, it is bound to have an impact on the other parts of the world. The contemporary value of the story based on the event of the shoe thrown at President George W Bush made me select this story. This is based on the book by the same name written by Muntadhar al-Zaidi.
Since you are making your debut with this play, can we expect you to direct and write plays in the future?
Mahesh Bhatt- No, that will not be the case simply because I do not think I possess the skills required for writing or directing plays. Watching plays is all right for me, though I don’t watch much plays. Appreciating it is possible but diving straight into the direction or writing of the plays is not my cup of tea.
Have you watched any Bengali play?
Mahesh Bhatt- As I said before, I have not watched much plays before. Sadly, I have not watched any Bengali plays, though I have heard that they are extremely good. I have just watched some Marathi and Hindi plays.
After having worked in both theatre and cinema, how do you differentiate between these two mediums?
Mahesh Bhatt- The trouble in today’s times is we seek for acceptance. Going against the tide, is not what many people are willing to do. As a result, cinema which is a mass medium is always treading on the path of acceptance and gives in to the wishes of the majority. On the other hand, if you take theatre, it raises its voice for the marginalized. In today’s time theatre can become an important medium for protesting against anything.
What are your views about the Odeum Festival 2016?
Mahesh Bhatt- This is indeed a great initiative. One can celebrate the diversity of the country with such festivals. The fact that youths are connected with this festival will give the festival a new lease of energy.
You will be attending music maestro Ghulam Ali’s concert. After what happened in Mumbai, how do you feel about this decision taken up the West Bengal CM?
Mahesh Bhatt– Kudos to CM Mamata Banerjee for actually keeping politics away from art!! What happened to Ghulam Ali in Mumbai is very shameful and should not have happened to him. He is a senior colleague and an artist of world stature. Not letting him perform in Mumbai was insulting him. I felt small because we live in the country where Gandhi ji, Swami Vivekananda lived. We preach Ahimsa, tolerance and yet not letting an artist perform was something that could have been avoided. The West Bengal CM has shown “himmat” in asking the music maestro to come and perform in the city. I just cannot wait to go and see him perform. However, we are film makers and we believe in happy endings. Ghulam Ali’s coming to Kolkata is the happy ending that we have been seeking.
Your daughter Alia is doing quite good with her films. Are you happy with the way her acting career is shaping up?
Mahesh Bhatt- Well she has done quite good so far!! However, I feel that she can do much better. Maybe, I expect more from her as a father. But I simply cannot go ga-ga about what she has done till now. She is doing good but she has much more to achieve.
We hear that you are a possessive father. Is that true?
Mahesh Bhatt- (laughs out loud) Yes I am!!
Since Mahesh Bhatt was in a hurry to go to the Ghulam Ali concert, the conversation had to end. However his parting words were “Celebrate Culture, Celebrate Bengal and Make Us a Part of It”.
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.