He believes his own imperfections reflect in the characters in his films, but Inkaar filmmaker Sudhir Mishra says the audience doesn't enjoy watching characters which are a mirror of their own personality.
The acclaimed filmmaker is known for projects like Chameli, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Khoya Khoya Chand. He doesn't mind the mixed reviews to Inkaar, which delves into the subject of sexual harrassment at workplace.
Talking about weak characters in his movies, he said: "People in this country often confuse a weak character for a weak performance. In Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, a lot of people preferred Shiney Ahuja's performance to Kay Kay Menon's performance for this reason. Audiences don't like to see a reflection of themselves when they go to cinema."
Excerpts from the interview:
The reviews of Inkaar are mixed.
There are many things about me that offend people. If you see the National awards, my Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi wasn't even taken into the second round.
Mr Basu Chatterjee was the chairman of the jury that year. Maybe he wasn't even shown the film by the rest of the jury.
How did it matter that it wasn't even in the contention for the National award? Does anyone remember the film that got the National award that year? Martin Scorcese, a filmmaker I identify with, didn't get the Oscar for a very long time.
Why is national recognition denied to you?
Maybe because my protagonists are morally frail, I am not considered eligible for awards. People in this country often confuse a weak character for a weak performance.
In Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, a lot of people preferred Shiney Ahuja's performance to Kay Kay Menon's performance for this reason. Audiences don't like to see a reflection of themselves when they go to cinema.
Does that bother you?
I never cared for recognition. Look back at some of the reviews that I had got for Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin. I don't object to critics' opinion. They have their own reason for what they see, and say.
But yes, I admit at this point of time, it upsets me to read some of the things being said about Inkaar. I don't think all the critics are looking at the film per se. I hope it does well enough for me to continue making the films I believe in.
How do you compare Inkaar with your best works?
am not too sure where I place Inkaar among my works. I'd say it compares with Chameli. Inkaar and Chameli are both urban fables. Some people think Inkaar is my best film.
You've treated the theme of sexual harassment without taking sides either with the man or woman. Don't you think fence-sitting is a sign of weakness?
No not at all. I haven't pulled any punches regarding who is right or wrong. But I feel at the end of the day, the man is more wrong than the woman.
Whatever she did didn't give him the right to behave the way he did. In the end, she leaves him in torment about whether she slept with another man, and walks away.
If she had forgiven him, it would've been a total cop-out. Men and women at war have to finally come to an understanding, like India and Pakistan.
How much did real-life incidents influence Inkaar?
There were David Davidar, Pradeep Shrivastava... and many not so well-known incidents that were suppressed. I've talked to women who went through these suppressed incidents and talked to men who have left their jobs after such incidents.
For me, Inkaar is an urban fable about the man-woman relationship.
Do you think urban relationships have become subservient to ambitions?
Yes, subservient to extraneous pulls and pressures and to fantasies and delusions. People in relationships seem to value materialism over all else. And that withers away in a while.
The surging stream becomes a pitiable trickle. What then? Today's average ambitious 20-something wants to go up there. When he or she gets there, only emptiness is encountered. At the end of it, we're fighting imaginary wars. All that you are left with are shattered dreams.
I've seen many lonely men and women at the top. Love is the only solution. Not love in the way we see it in Archie comics. It can be love for even your work.
Are you lonely?
I love making films. So I am not lonely. I've conquered loneliness. I love what I do. But I am not falling into the trap of letting ambition override my love for filmmaking.
I enjoy the process of making films. I feel connected with life and people when I tell my stories. The imperfections that you see in my characters are my own imperfections.