In over three decades of his association with Bollywood, Mahesh Bhatt has delivered iconic films like "Arth", "Saaransh", "Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin" and "Zakhm". But it's quits on the direction front now, says the maverick filmmaker, who wants to promote young and fresh talent in the industry.
"I have said goodbye to direction. I am encouraging new talents. I am 64 years old now and at this age, encouraging upcoming talents is very satisfying," Bhatt said.
The filmmaker, through his production banner Vishesh Films, has given a platform to many directors, actors and creative people with Bollywood dreams.
Be it director Mohit Suri, "Blood Money" director Vishal Mahadkar, actor Emraan Hashmi or Indo-Canadian porn star Sunny Leone, who will make her Bollywood debut with his "Jism 2", many people from the industry have had their firsts with Bhatt.
Currently also, the veteran is busy promoting another newcomer Esha Gupta, the leading lady of "Jannat 2".
Miss India International 2007 winner Esha is cast opposite Emraan in the film, a sequel to 2008 film "Jannat". Bhatt is doing every bit to push her into limelight.
"Esha Gupta is an unusual Indian girl who walked into my office. These days there is no Indianness left any more in others. This girl comes from Delhi, with a feminine charm; and charm and intelligence are a deadly combination," said Bhatt.
For "Jannat 2", directed by Kunal Deshmukh, Emraan was a must, he said.
"Emraan was must for 'Jannat 2'. He was a compulsory casting for the movie. Nobody could have played this role better than him. He has a heart of gold," added Bhatt.
Emraan, who started his career with the Bhatt camp with the movie "Footpath" in 2003 and featured in a series of films with the banner, is now in demand in Bollywood.
Bhatt said he is glad to see his progress in the industry.
"Emraan has evolved as an actor. From his debut film 'Footpath', he has come a very long way. He is a star now. Today everybody wants to cast him in their films," he said, denying any speculation of a rift between him and the actor, who is also his nephew.
"There were no differences between me and Emraan. I could not attend 'Jannat 2' music launch as I was in Jaipur with Pooja (Bhatt) for the shooting of 'Jism 2'.
"I believe Emraan is big enough to hold a film as he is a star now," said Bhatt.
Now Bhatt's concentration is also on promoting his "Blood Money" lead actor Kunal Kemmu, who also featured as a child star in the filmmaker's hit film "Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke".
"Kunal Kemmu is not a star. He needs me now, Emraan does not need"me," Bhatt said.
(Uma Ramasubramaniam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)