Vishal Bharadwaj is a very simple man. With him, it’s “what you see, is what you get”. He’s soft spoken, modest and very down to earth. Not something you see a lot in a celebrity from entertainment world, who has 6 National Awards amongst many, and his movies have done multi-millions in business. He’s also very intelligent, a person who’s very clear as to what he wants and what kind of work he wants to do. With his Shakespearean Trilogy of Maqbool (Macbeth), Omkara (Othello) and Haider (Hamlet), he has wowed audience all over the globe. We got a chance to talk to him recently, here are the excerpts
Art Shrian: You have brought Shakespeare to everyday Indian in such an authentic, but still very Indian way. As a filmmaker, what motivates you to make such amazing films?
Vishal Bharadwaj: I always say a film actually represents inner being of a filmmaker, whatever he wants to say, whatever he wants to be. Director is one person who becomes completely emotionally naked. He’s commenting on social environment, whatever he sees and feels, the issues, issues with father, girlfriend, wife, sister, anything. He brings his inner being.
Art Shrian: Your movie also have been great hits and very successful financially. How important is that to you?
Vishal Bharadwaj: Financial aspect is important to the effect that you’re able to make your next film (laughs). If you make such a bad film that people lose their money, nobody is going to put their money on you next time. So it’s important at least to that extent.
Art Shrian: You tell great stories through your films. And you have constantly picked great stories from Shakespeare to Ruskin Bond; and made them even better through your films. What inspires you to accept an existing famous story and convert it into a film? Adaptation v/s original Writing...
Vishal Bharadwaj: It’s a very selfish reason for me. If you judge your work very honestly and if you don’t live in fool’s paradise, then you know if something is better than what you can write originally. I chose those stories which I think are great, timeless, entertaining, juicy, and great characters. To write something like Macbeth will take me 400 yrs.
Art Shrian: Well, I’m sure if Shakespeare was around, he’ll love your adaptations of his work. Specially Maqbool and making Lady Macbeth and Macbeth as unmarried lovers, it just adds such a depth to the characters and the story. But now there is lot of expectations from you and your films. So, do you feel a burden while doing these Shakespearean adaptations?
Vishal Bharadwaj: No, I don’t feel any such burden; the burden is within my own work. I remain honest with my inner feelings, and I know if I’m honest, everything will be taken care of.
Art Shrian: So talking about your latest adaptation Haider, it was amazing how you brought such a complicated story into today’s world. Making such complex characters alive, including the ghost, and in a beautiful setting of Kashmir. It does not seem like a Shakespearean adaptation at all, it’s so relevant and current. But there was also some controversy around the film and its agenda. Did you want to make any kind of statement with the film or was it just your honest adaptation of Hamlet?
Vishal Bharadwaj: I never want to make a statement; I just want to make my honest films. The only film I tried to make a statement with, was “Matroo ki Bijli Ka Mandola”; about condition of farmers and people trying to take their lands and making ugly concrete jungle of multiplexes and malls. That was my most political movie. In Haider, I was trying to explore human conditions of a particular area, where people have gone through a lot, area which has seen violence for more than 25 yrs. So what happens to a family, or a common man, whose roots are not clear on either side? There was lot of controversy, but I’m not part of it. I filmed or showed nothing that was not true. I just made my honest film.
Art Shrian: I think I’ll have to watch it a second time, with less bias (laughing). So, any plans on adapting the funny and comedic side of Shakespeare? I would love to see that and can take credit for that suggestion (laughing).
Vishal Bharadwaj: In the near future, there’s no plan. But definitely after 1 or 2 films I would love to do such comedies. A trilogy of Shakespearean comedy would be great (with a big smile!).
Art Shrian: That will be amazing, can’t wait to see that. Thanks a lot Vishal for making such wonderful films, and we all look forward to continuing to enjoy your work. All the best!