â€˜I felt ashamed to walkâ€™
You are the director of Kites. Why were you not walking the red carpet at Cannes with Hrithik Roshan, Rakesh Roshan and Barbara Mori?
Itâ€™s not that they didnâ€™t want to take me. Rather I decided not to go. There were some personal reasons for not going there.
Why donâ€™t you share the reasons with us?
I will walk the red carpet respectfully if and when my film is selected for competition. I really feel strongly about this. We Indians go and walk the red carpet and the media makes so much of brouhaha about which Bollywood is wearing what and all that but none of our films are inside. I think the last time was in 1994 when our film was shown in an auditorium in Cannes. I felt ashamed to walk there. Also, I wanted to make most of my Cannes visit by not only promoting Kites but by also meeting producers and financiers from different parts of the world. So, my priority was that… not to walk the red carpet.
How disappointed are you that the pre-release buzz about Kites has more to do with rumours of an affair between Hrithik and Barbara rather than the film itself?
Itâ€™s beyond our control. You cannot control whatâ€™s being written and talked about. I donâ€™t know what triggered this rumour in the first place. Must be the steamy pictures of Barbara on the Internet. I donâ€™t think these rumours are helping or damaging my film because thereâ€™s still some time left for the release. I hope the rumours die out by the time Kites arrives.
Even in Cannes, Hrithik and Barbara were said to have spent time together alone…
They were never alone. I was always with them. People just chose not to see me. Barbara is that kind of a person… she became friendly with the entire unit. Her relationship with me, her relationship with the cinematographer, her relationship with Hrithik… are all same. If I was the hero of the film, I would have been linked with Barbara. We were a very young group… We partied and we shot and we partied and we shot.
Is Kites about a Salsa dance teacher falling in love with his student?
The character is not about Salsa and the film is not about dance. It is about two people from two different parts of the world falling in love. One is from India and one is from Mexico. Against all the odds they fall in love and their love is beyond boundaries, beyond language.
Then, of course, the other rumour is that Kites is a rehash of Woody Allenâ€™s Match Point?
My film has nothing to do with Match Point. The crisis in the film is that both the characters want to acquire wealth in the easiest possible way. Thatâ€™s what makes them dark. Itâ€™s basically about how they balance between their love and what they want to achieve in life.
So will you call Kites a romantic thriller?
Not really. I know thatâ€™s what people are calling it. But if you ask me the genre, itâ€™s a love story. Itâ€™s not a thriller or a romantic thriller, itâ€™s just a romance for me.
Directors donâ€™t know how best to use Hrithik. What all have you made him do in Kites?
Actually, I didnâ€™t write Kites keeping Hrithik in mind. I just wrote a story from my heart. The character was always the priority, not the actor playing the character. As for Hrithik, he has evolved as an actor and he himself wants to try new things. Initially I was very sceptical. What I had heard was that Hrithik wished to prepare much in advance. And my style is absolutely different… I depend a lot on last-minute improvisations. I was scared how Hrithik would adapt to that and how much I would have to change myself. But Hrithik, I found, to be a mixture of preparedness and spontaneity.
Having worked with him for an entire film now, how would you rate Hrithik as an actor?
I think he is the best actor of our generation. I wouldnâ€™t think twice before saying so. I didnâ€™t believe that before doing the film. But having worked with him I am convinced he is the best. See, for me, there is only one definition of acting and that is real acting, natural acting. I always try to bring out that kind of performances from my actors. Hrithik is so flexible that he can do both Bollywood-marka acting and real acting. And you have to be really talented to do that.
All the films that have come out of Rakesh Roshanâ€™s Filmkraft banner have been loud and not really your brand of real cinema. Did you have to adjust your sensibilities?
I myself wanted to do something different. I didnâ€™t want my new film to be like Gangster or Life in a… Metro. I wanted Kites to appeal to a global audience and yet be a Bollywood film. I didnâ€™t want to make a film which would be appreciated abroad and not run in Indian theatres. That was a difficult thing to achieve. I was searching within myself how to strike that balance. Itâ€™s not a very Filmkraft kind of film. I was very surprised when Rakeshji wanted to produce Kites. He has been a courageous producer and he has completely supported my vision. Having done so many small films… suddenly I was given this huge budget to work with.
What is the budget of Kites?
I am not sure about the exact budget but the film was bought for Rs 120 crore. It is the highest ever in Bollywood.
When you were shooting abroad, word trickled in that Rakesh Roshan and you were getting into frequent fights leading to the sacking of cinematographer Bobby Singh…
The cameraman was indeed changed. See, I am not denying that there were some teething problems in the beginning. We both were coming from very different schools of thought, very different schools of cinema. It was not that I was right and he was wrong or he was right and I was wrong. Whenever two different kind of people come together, thereâ€™s bound to be some kind of friction. But itâ€™s not that there was tension on the sets or anything. Rakeshji knows what kind of freedom a director needs and he provided me that. He provided that elbow space. He has never intervened. And if I could leave my first movie (Kucch Toh Hai) because of intervention (by Ekta Kapoor), I could leave any movie. That I am still passionately involved with Kites proves that there was no creative intervention.