"I have had the most amazingly eventful journey," said Subhash Ghai, who turned 67 on Thursday, and added that he is penning a book where he will encapsulate all aspects of his life.
"I've enjoyed every bit of my life so far... I am now writing a book with utmost truth about me and the others, who had been and have been part of the agony and ecstasy of my life...," said Ghai.
Excerpts from an interview:
You have turned a year older. How do you look back on your eventful life?
Yes, just a year old wiser by mind and one year younger by heart. I have had the most amazingly eventful journey. I've enjoyed every bit of my life so far. I've seen the worst fall and the best rise.
I am now writing a book with utmost truth about me and the others who had been and have been part of the agony and ecstasy of my life... I feel the book would be hilarious, enlightening and full of surprises and inspiring.
Every event was a landmark in my life. So I can't choose one event as special.
How would you assess your growth as a filmmaker from Kalicharan in 1976 to Yuvvraaj in 2008?
My films themselves speak of my growth as a person and as an artist in me. I've evolved as an individual during these 35 years of my professional life.
The best part in me is that I am a great student of life and I learn something new everyday, be it be on technology, content, people, youth, nation and cinema. I am clued in.
As a filmmaker I am always ahead of times, whether it was Karz, Taal or Kisna or Yuvvraaj or Black & White.
Your recent films have not worked at the box office.
I know showbiz knows you by your last film. But the audience knows you by your body of work. I have to march ahead as best as I can with the same confidence and spirit as before, to keep me up there, where I belong.
The failure of my films at the box office does not shake me in my quest to make quality-conscious blockbusters with a message. Currently I am full on my latest film Kaanchi.
You are known as a talent discoverer who discovered such talents as Manisha Koirala, Jackie Shroff, Mahima Chowdhary and even Madhuri Dixit (whom you re-introduced). Who among your discoveries would you consider the proudest achievement?
Shaping an ordinary boy and girl into a star is huge high for me and I love it. Maybe that's why I opened such a huge film school Whistlingwoods International in Mumbai... I feel happy when I see Madhuri Dixit still occupying centerstage at the Filmfare Awards function...
You also have the unique distinction of having worked with Dilip Kumar in three films. How do you look back on the experience of directing him?
That was the best part of my life as a director. Here was an actor who used to teach me, groomed me as a person and filmmaker, and advised me to opt for mainstream cinema but with dignity and artistic qualities, which, according to Dilip saab, were more important than box office.
He told me, 'You can only make more money by focussing only at box office. But you will be remembered only by your great work.' Irrespective of success or failure, I never want to be ashamed of my films...
Surprisingly you've never worked with Amitabh Bachchan. Any regrets on that score?
Yes, I regret not working with him. He is the finest talent we have today. I will wait for the time when we work together. Right things have to happen and the right time. We will make a great film together, I am sure.
Guru Dutt felt disillusioned and distanced himself from the industry. Do you share his sentiments in the song 'Dekhi zamanein ki yaari bichhde sabhi baari-baari...'?
I am a spiritual person too, so I do not get depressed with people's negative behaviour...But yes, I do miss my associates like Sachin Bhowmick, Ram Kelkar. Anand Bakshi, Laxmikant and Ashok Mehta when I am working on a film.
But change is inevitable and I have to change myself to stay in tune with the next generation.
Whom in the industry do you consider to be your close and permanent friends and why?
Dilip Kumar, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff apart from other few others. We grew together and our personal shared joys and sorrows...I am also close to Manmohan shetty and Pradip Guha.
How do you view the trend of dark edgy films and heroes?
I confess that today's cinema is getting away from fantasies and sentimentalization and getting more real. Filmmakers want to show us the dark side of society.
But we also have the Spiderman, cinema like Rowdy Rathore, Ek Tha Tiger, Krrish and Dhoom, which entertain people.
Which recent films have you enjoyed?
I liked English Vinglish and Vicky Donor for their new expression. I love watching today's cinema in Bollywood and admire Anurag Kashyap, Raju Hirani and a few others for their belief in their cinema.
How do you cope with the loss of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal-Anand Bakshi team that gave us imperishable songs in Hero, Ram Lakhan and Saudagar?
I miss them a lot but I cannot live in the past. I am a man of today and work with current talent.
You planned a documentary on Anand Bakshi. What progress on that?
His son Rakesh Bakshi is working on that and I wish to help him. Anand Bakshi deserves every honour we can give him.
Finally, if you had to assess yourself and your contribution to cinema in a few words, what would they be?
A student who becomes a teacher on his own campus and remains a student on the same campus only!