True story of the Satya man-Khalid Mohamed talks to Ram Gopal Varma




The Opening Reel


What is your first waking memory, the first visual you have of yourself?


The memory is that of a kid trying to open the wooden gate of his house in Hyderabad, and not being able to. This was in the middle class Panjagutta Colony where I lived most of my life, right till I became a film director. Now I have an apartment in Srinagar Colony but I can never forget that wooden gate which wouldn’t open.


Do you believe in birth signs, the zodiac?


Not at all. All I know is that I was born on April 7, my mother tells me it was at 7.30 pm in Hyderabad’s Nilofar Hospital.


Varma is quite a rare name for a family from Andhra Pradesh. Have you ever traced your ancestry?


Our family has a Kshatriya lineage, that’s where Varma comes from. My maternal grandmother was a scholarly Ram bhakt. That’s it. I don’t know much about my grandparents.


Could you elaborate on your family?


Is it necessary? Why go into such details?


Because it’s all about loving your family.


Ha ha, yes of course.I am the eldest of three children. My sister Vijaya is married and settled in Hyderabad. My brother Koti looks after my work there.


My father, Krishnan Raju Penumatsa, was a sound engineer at Sarathy and then at Annapurna studio. The best thing about him was that he would let me do anything I wanted to. I looked up to my father although I didn’t interact with him much. He never exercised any control over me, which was thought to be very wrong then, especially in the case of the eldest son. Now I realise he was so right to give me the freedom to shape my own life. He was 65 when he passed away just before the release of Rangeela. He didn’t drink much but he was a heavy smoker, into three packets a day.


Would you say that you had a normal childhood?


Yes absolutely. I had a very normal chidhood. The problem was that I was a very abnormal child.


What were you like as a child?


I was very, very playful, I would never do my school homework. My mother (Suryavathi) would beat me up a lot, with chappals and at times with a leather belt. That means I was either a bad child or she was a bad mother! No seriously, I gave her grief by insisting on doing my own thing. At St Mary’s School and then at New Science College, I was the typical backbencher, lost in my own world. I was just not interested in studies, text books would bore the pants off me. So it wasn’t surprising that I flunked my tenth standard exams twice, and had to repeat my Intermediate exams as well as B E Civil Engineering exams.


What exactly do you mean by being playful?


As a kid, I’d play hide and seek all the time, sometimes even with myself in my imagination. And I’d retreat into my world of comics: Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy the Witch, Little Lotta, Lulu, Tarzan and Phantom. I couldn’t relate to Superman, Batman or Spiderman, I still can’t. The invulnerable and the unbelievable don’t interest me. Maybe that’s why to date I’d rather watch The Alien which is nasty and scary. The Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series don’t interest me.


At high school, I tried to get into cricket because that’s what all the kids were supposed to do. I must have been 19 when a cricket ball hit my knee. I was hurt, upset..why should a game inflict pain? That’s why I hate cricket.


I started hanging out with street gangs. We’d get into turf wars, like dogs do when they see another group of dogs encroaching on their space. Street wars would break out but I was smart enough to remain at the back of the fights with fists and hockey sticks. And of course, if I saw our gang was getting thrashed, I’d make a run for it.


You sound as if you were opposed to any sort of stipulated education..or discipline.


Not opposed, just indifferent. I couldn’t understand why I should be into maths at all, numbers didn’t interest me. To an extent, I was interested in history because stories of victories and defeat interested me. I was curious, for instance, why Mahmud of Ghazni should invade India 17 times. And I was thrilled by the conquests of Alexander the Great, the strategies of Genghiz Khan and the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo.


I looked forward to the social science classes because of our teacher Miss Saraswati. I was fascinated by her, she was my first crush.


Why?


Because she was voluptuous, a growing-up boy’s dream come true. I’m not sure but Miss Saraswati taught us English also…still that didn’t arouse my interest in Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. It was comics or paperbacks for me.The first book I ever read was James Hadley Chase’s No Orchids for Miss Blandish, and I was hooked. Who needed studies when I could read of lovely women like Miss Blandish? I’d be glued to the novels of Frederick Forsyth, Ayn Rand, Stephen King and I was insanely crazy about Mad magazine. Sometimes I felt I was Alfred E Neuman, but I could never put on a permanent smile like he did.



That fatal attraction


Throughout your early school and college days in Hyderabad, what pulled you towards film viewing?


For the exposure to cinema I would credit or blame one person only, my mother’s brother Prasad Raju. A grape farmer, he was an outgoing sort of person, and a major film buff. He always wanted company whenever he went to the cinema halls. I was eight or ten years old when I started accompanying my uncle to see the wild west movies – like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – and the James Bond series. The first 007 film I ever saw was Thunderball. I was hypnotised. There would be a kind of anticipatory excitement within me before seeing every new film, the thrill was almost sexual, like reaching a climax of pleasure.


Undoubtedly, my uncle was responsible for getting me addicted to cinema. We’d go to Hyderbad’s Sangeet, Tivoli and Plaza cinemas.I was awestruck by Mackenna’s Gold, The Guns of Navarone, and Lost in a Desert. Every time a character entered, I would ask, “Is he..is he the hero?” I liked heroes, magnified, larger-than-life human beings who were plausible..men of flesh, blood and emotions who could exist. Robots from science fiction blockbusters and super-heroes performing death-defying stunts struck me as too fantastic, childish, like fairy tales, not possible.


I’d watch every film, good or bad, in respectful silence. If someone made a noise I’d get very upset and tell him to shut up. I’d get involved in the movie but never to the extent of identifying with the characters so closely, that I would shed tears. That may also be because I don’t ever cry. I don’t break into laughter either, the only exception was Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther which was laugh-out-loud funny. I preferred the slapstick of Laurel and Hardy to the bittersweet comedies of Charlie Chaplin. That’s the way I am. Sadness and tears are not for me.


Wouldn’t you see Telugu films?


Only once in a while. In terms of sheer quantity my Hollywood intake was much higher. But I did see N T Rama Rao’s Adavi Ramadu 17 times, once for its story about a heroic forest officer who saves animals from poachers, and 16 times for Jaya Prada! The film had two rocking ingredients: the hero represented power and Jaya Prada, feminity.


Aren’t you obsessive about sex?


Not at all, in this respect at least I am normal. I respect women’s sexuality. That’s why you will never find the character of a prostitute in any of my films, neither have I used the word ‘prostitute’ in any of my films. Some years ago, a film director came to me with a script which he wanted me to produce. Guess what its title was?

The Whore. I just looked at his face, I didn’t even look at the script, the title itself was demeaning.


Since you didn’t know the Hindi language then, what made you watch Bollywood cinema?


Hyderabad still has the vestiges of the Nizam’s culture, Hindi is spoken although not with the Urdu adab it used to have once upon a time. Moreover, there were Hindi speaking guys in the Panjagattu street gang.


I started watching Hindi movies a bit late, beginning with Yaadon ki Baarat and the Amitabh Bachchan movies. I believed exclusively in commercial potboiler cinema. So quite naturally I preferred Zeenat Aman’s sex appeal to Guru Dutt’s grief.


And at Uncle Prasad Raju’s house, for hours I could listen to whatever kind of music I wanted to..since he had a tape-recorder. I’d play Piya tu ab to aaja, Mera naam hai Shabbo and Aaa jaane jaa again and again.. I’d listen to lots of Abba. For Telugu music, my god was Ilaiyaraja. Eventually my uncle got himself a more sophisticated music system, he gave me the tape-recorder. My mother must not have liked it but I’d keep playing the cabaret songs of Helen and Bindu 24 x 7.


Engineering blues

Whatever made you move towards civil engineering?


My grandfather, Venkathapati Raju, did. He was a civil engineer working for the Andhra Pradesh government. Probably, he hadn’t made any money from bribes which most civil engineers do while giving out construction contracts. He thought his grandson could do what he didn’t. Perhaps he thought that I’d make pots of money by becoming a contractor like T Subbirammi under whom he worked.


So, there I was enrolled at the V R Vijayawada Engineering College, living in a hostel which was a relief. I could be on my own, hang out with the hostel gang, some of them were real goondas, if I wanted to. I ended up having my first beer there at the age of 18.


Vijaywada was quite a town, laidback but also full of surprises. I saw my first strip tease show there, don’t laugh but in a way, I became a man. I returned to Hyderabad, found employment as a site engineer at the Krishna Oberoi Hotel which was being constructed on Road No. I, Jubilee Hills then.It all sounds very romantic, boy graduates, finds a job, may be he’ll straighten out his life now. Nothing of the sort happened.


I started living as such only when I opened my video rental shop. For the first time I was taking my own decisions. The video library, Movie House, happened competely by chance.


You wouldn’t have become a filmmaker then if it weren’t for Movie House.


Correct! After engineering college, I dreamt of directing films. When I told my father that, he thought I’d gone nuts. After all, I hadn’t done anything useful in my life. I had neither assisted any director nor was I trained at any filmmaking institute. I was a worthless bum in his eyes, he wouldn’t introduce me to the big producers he knew. He advised me to stop dreaming.


So, I was at the construction site earning Rs 800 a month which is what everyone felt I deserved. Film producers would show me the door. Media baron Ramoji Rao’s Usha Kiron Movies was making somewhat unusual films then like Pratighatna and Srivariki Prema Lekha. To catch his attention I wrote an article – with a sensational heading ‘The Ideas that Killed 30 million people’ -- for Newsline, the newspaper he owned at the time.


The article was about the influence of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche on Hitler. The article became controversial, finally I got an appointment with Ramoji Rao but he rejected me immediately since I didn’t have any experience in filmmaking. I argued that a director doesn’t need experience, he needs clarity of vision and communication skills. He didn’t buy the argument.


I was disillusioned, Ramoji Rao had been my only hope. Then I got an offer to go to Nigeria as an engineer with a salary of Rs 4000 a month.


I needed an international driving licence before leaving for Nigeria. A friend of mine, called Naidu, took me on his bike to the RTO office where he had some influence to hurry up the driving licence. En route, Naidu stopped at Priyadarshini Videos near the Lal Bahadur stadium to say hello to his friend who owned the place. Video libraries were just coming up, it was the first time I saw one. While Naidu chatted with his friend, I browsed through the video cassettes there and the damage was done.


Now I was confident about opening a video library, I definitely knew more about films than the owner of Priyadarshini Videos did. By the evening I was so obsessed about opening a video library that I drove my father’s Vespa scooter all around Hyderabad to check out the other six to seven libraries in town. By night, I junked the prospects of Nigeria. My father, grandfather and uncles were horrified, they probably wanted to take me to a mental hospital.


Video Paradiso

How did you raise the money for the library?


I collected loans varying from Rs 1000 to Rs 3000 totalling to Rs 20000. That was okay for buying video cassettes..all pirated of course, the done thing then. (Laughs) So in a way I started my film career as a video pirate! I was even arrested for stocking pirated copies of the Amitabh Bachchan film Aakhree Raasta. I had to spend a night in the Panjagutta jail. Later, quite ironically, the film’s producer K Poornachandra Rao produced my first film Shiva…maybe making that film was like taking revenge on him for getting me locked up.


Getting the premises for Movie House was another story. One of my uncles had a shop in the Amarpeet area, he was willing to give it without any deposit money to my father who was planning to start a fruit juice shop there as his retirement plan. I asked my father for the shop, he just looked at me silently without saying a word..


This is quite a saga


The next evening, over a drink at Madhu’s bar in Amarpeet, my uncle Murali Raju told me that my father was very disheartened, I was demanding something which could see him through his old age. That upset me, I said, okay then I will go to Nigeria if that’s what he wants.


Madhu’s bar was just a kilometre away from my house. I walked home, thinking, the choice is between momentary happiness for my father or permanent unhappiness for the entire family. By the time, I reached home, I ignored my father, and started preparations for the video library. And it became a tremendous success, collecting a Rs 20,000 profit every month. That was a big jump from my salary of Rs 800 and his of Rs 1500 a month.


My father had never smiled more brightly in his life. Till today, I can’t forget the pride in his eyes when he looked at me. The financial ease encouraged me to look for a break as a film director again.


If it wasn’t for that unscheduled halt at Priyadarshini Videos and that one-kilometre walk from Madhu’s bar to my house, I wouldn’t have ever become a film director.


You’re an accidental director, then, like Quentin Tarantino who also ran a video library before becoming a filmmaker. Do you find any similarities between you and him?


None. Tarantino tends to go over the top with his violence and darkness, I prefer the darkness and violence to be suggestive and under the surface. I don’t use as many as expletives as he does..in Satya I did but only a few.




Any strange customers at the library?


More than the customers, I was strange. I’d recommend the Wachowski Brothers’ Bound to everyone. My staff said I stocked films which nobody was interested in. I’d buy them because I was taken in by their theme, cover design or synopses on the back cover.


Many customers seemed to want horror movies, to watch late at nights. Besides The Exorcist and Omen, Evil Dead and Pet Cemetary were always booked up in advance. Since I liked them a lot, I’d also promote the Ramsay Brothers Do Gaz Zameen ke Neeche, Sannata and Darwaza.


Strangely, mostly women would ask if there were any blue movies in the shop, and they wouldn’t be embarrassed at all. Since I didn’t stock XXX-rated movies, the women would make sour-lemon faces and walk away.


No one rented Francis Ford Coppola’s One from the Heart or Risky Business.That taught me the importance of posters, promos and catchlines…if they’re lousy no one will see the film. Like no one saw my Nishabd because I didn’t market it right and also because no one was interested in its story except myself.


Did you subsequently develop a taste for the classics? Like Citizen Kane and Mughal-e-Azam?


Not really. I got bored by Citizen Kane within 15 minutes, and I found Mughal-e-Azam tacky compared to Sholay. I was tremendously disappointed by The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Magnificent Seven. By the time I saw them, so many of their scenes and technical high points had been adapted so cleverly by filmmakers that the originals weren’t that exciting. For instance, I’d seen The Dirty Dozen earlier which had a similar theme to The Magnificent Seven, of negative guys turning heroic.


Under the influence


Which would you cite as the films which have influenced you majorly?


For sure Sholay, never mind my Aag..and all that. And although they aren’t commercial as such, in terms of filmmaking Shyam Benegal’s Ankur and Nishant. Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya and Aaghat also made a deep impact on me. I liked the humour of Gulzar’s Angoor and then there are moments and some characters I can never forget from Kaalchakra and Arjun.


From Ankur and Nishant I discovered that cinema doesn’t have to boil the commercial pot always. I learnt the strength of realism, of using real locations and a cast of newcomers It was the first time that I was consciously trying to understand the characters instead of just seeing them as the hero, heroine and villain. My uncle said that the last scene of Ankur showing a boy throw a stone at the landlord’s house was a special touch by the director. That was the first time I had heard the word ‘director’ and realised that a film was essentially his creation.


Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil stayed in my mind after Nishant. In Ankur, I was impressed more by the subtle supporting role played by Priya Tendulkar than the high dramatics of Shabana Azmi.


I wouldn’t miss a Shyam Benegal film after that. I was very impressed with his Kalyug. Frankly, my Company is a virtual remake of Kalyug, in a different setting. I had imbibed a lot from Kalyug without being aware of it. I made my take on Kalyug quite unknowingly. Today, if I were to go back to Company, I would treat it from an entirely different perspective.


I have told Shyamji about my debt to Kalyug. And he has been generous enough to say that he was quite astonished by the way I shot the crowd scenes in Satya. And somewhere he has also said that Company is a benchmark in showing the life behind the scenes of the Mumbai underworld.


Just one line of dialogue in Govindji’s Aaghat triggered the idea for Shiva. The line said that when people take the law in their own hands, it is never out of choice but out of compulsion. Before that, I’d found his Ardh Satya to be extremely powerful. When I met Govindji at A R Rahman’s recording studio, we talked about Ardh Satya but it seemed he had made it to show the tense relationship between Amrish Puri and Om Puri, portraying a father and son in the police force. But I had been more impressed by the character of the don, Rama Shetty. I didn’t dare to tell Govindji this but whenever I’d watched the film on video, I’d fast-forward the Amrish Puri-Om Puri scenes.


We won’t get into your ‘remake’ of Sholay at this point but do you find any flaws in the Ramesh Sippy classic today?


I’ve seen Sholay about 30 times, the last time was in 2001 – that’s 26 years after it was first released. Sholay is still absorbing, now I can find more interesting things in it naturally because as a director I understand technique better. But I was amused when I was told that Gabbar Singh’s den, as it was shown, was located right behind the Thakur’s haveli, just a stone’s throw away. And yet everyone was hunting for Gabbar Singh.But that’s cinema, masterpieces just happen because every element falls into shape..like the script, performances, technique and music. Really, nothing compares in my book with Sholay and The Godfather. I could watch them over and over again for the rest of my life. They are not made, they happen.


Reason?


Why should there be a reason? Reasons are not necessary for pleasure. But okay if I were to ask myself why I will salute Sholay and The Godfather forever, it’s because I’m drawn to films which show people caught in helpless, violent situations. They wield a lot of authority but are trapped in their own power structure.


Aren’t you, in a sense, trapped too in the Bollywood structure today?


That’s for you to say. I don’t think so. I have the freedom to do exactly what I want to, the way I did as a child. The psychology of violence intrigues me. I’ve dreamt about becoming a gangster but I know I can’t. I’m mentally tough but not physically…a person like me can never have the guts to become a gangster.


Instead I make films because it’s a powerful medium. It’s like having a conversation across the table. You can engage the audience in a conversation and hope that they’ll like it.You can make the audience feel light-hearted or you can scare them by shouting boo from behind a door.


A film is a reflection of your personality, it is the sharpest way…like a knife.. to express your feelings, your anger, your take on something you feel strongly about.


Theatre is as potent a medium, albeit with a far more limited audience.


I don’t have the expertise to comment on theatre. I’ve only see three plays in my life:Sar Sar Sarla, Aflatoon and a monologue by Naseeruddin Shah. I won’t lie, I slept through all of them.


Do you think you could have fitted into any other medium..or profession?


Not likely. The day I consciously decided to become a film director, my entire personality changed. From a dull guy I actually became lively. Everything that is attractive and interesting in life can be conveyed through cinema, it’s an amalgamation of various skills into a coherent whole which tries to make the desired emotional effect.


You never go into a project with a bound script. Why?


No, never, I’ve never had a script worked out to the last detail. I make films like a viewer would, I want to be surprised by the scene I think of next, or else there is the danger of becoming hopelessly predictable. If you know the entire film from the beginning, middle to end, that conditions you..you lose judgement of how the story is unfolding. It’s more exciting to discover, along the way, how a film should go ahead.


Obviously, there is the kernel of the plot is in my head, but when I go to the set, I’m not rigid about what a character should do next, or what line of dialogue he or she should say. I am clear about each of my characters, that is if I’m serious about the film I’m making. (Laughs) At times, I may not be serious about a film at all.


Such as?


When I was shooting Daud, the idea of Satya came to me. I was so excited about starting Satya that I wrapped up Daud as fast as I could. I told my assistants, “We have to start Satya fast before Daud releases, or else the financiers won’t let me make it.” That happened because my enthusiasm for Daud evaporated as soon I thought of making Satya.


Does a city like Mumbai where you had settled down make you restless. Hyderabad is more relaxed.


I don’t react much to a place, I can make films anywhere. But to be honest, Mumbai does get into one’s system. I like its unpredictability, the city is restless just the way I am. I also like the fact that one can be alone in a crowd in Mumbai. I have been staying in my apartment for nearly 13 years but I don’t know who the neigbours are, not even their names.


Love or something like that


Mumbai can be quite heartless. Is that why there is little or no romance in most of your films?


Really? I think all my films have an element of romance. Maybe I’m not into love songs, teary farewells and mushy embraces. I’ve also been told that even if I show families in my films, I don’t make them my focus. That may be because I’m a loner. I like to be with myself. And cinema is about getting out of that aloneness, of finding people I can relate to, people who’re real to me. Normal people and traditional occasions bore me..which is why I hate going to wedding receptions and birthday parties. I’m just not in the social circuit.


Since you say that your films do have an element of romance, how many times have you fallen in love personally?


Miss Saraswati was a schoolboy’s infatuation. After that I fell in love two or three times..no,no, maybe six or seven times.


Who was your first love?


She was my sister’s friend.


Did you get married to her?


Yes.


It was a love marriage, then.How old were you then?


Around 25.


That means you got married while you were running your video library. Did your wife, Ratna,approve of your decision of direct films.


I won’t answer this.


Why not?


Okay, she didn’t approve, she never liked the world of films.


What do you have to say about the institution of marriage?


Obviously when I married, I thought marriage is a great concept. But I disagree with that now. Not because my marriage broke up after eight years. I feel that commitments are subhect to change with time. With time, I no longer believed in the concept of marriage.


And of love?


It’s the same thing. Because love is a feeling and feelings are subject to change. Perhaps I don’t think I have ever loved anyone 100 per cent. That is my fault entirely. I was attracted to someone at a point of time. Two weeks later, I changed my mind.


What attracts you to a woman?


I can’t look at a woman in parts. The overall personality attracts me.


Would you rather be with a brainy woman or a sexy Pamela Anderson?


Pamela Anderson for sure. I’d prefer a sexy woman because I have sufficient intelligence myself. I don’t need that from a woman.


So would you agree that you were to blame for the break-up of your marriage?


Totally. I’m to blame for the break-up. I’m a selfish guy. It was very irresponsible of me to have gone ahead with the marriage in the first place. Marriage needs commitment, one has to change one’s personality, adapt, become accommodating. I couldn’t do that. Basically, I’m just a kid who’s instinctive and free. The fact that I didn’t realise that before the marriage is why I blames myself. Anyway, now I have a ball being single. I’m a very happy singleton.


What about the responsibility of parenthood?


Well, when my daughter grew up, I told her what had happened. I told her I was to blame completely. If she didn’t like me, I could live with that. If she needed anything, I was just a phone call away. Now, it’s more like we’re friends. She’s a doctor. Earlier, I never went to her college events or even asked her about her marks at exams. I’ll admit I’ve been a really bad father.


What’s her name?


(Silence)


I could find out anyway.


Revathy.


What is she like?


Firstly, she doesn’t care about me. I like that, I like those who don’t care about me. She’s into her own world. She doesn’t give me much importance.


She hates all my films. She used to be a great fan of Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Shah Rukh Khan. I’m not sure she likes that kind of cinema anymore, tastes change.


Are you in touch with her?


Yes, once in a while on the phone. And whenever I’m in Hyderabad, we meet.


Would you describe her as ‘pretty’?


Very pretty.


Are you still friends with your ex-wife?


I don’t know what ‘friend’ means. We meet, we talk once in a while.


Would you ever get remarried?


No way. I wouldn’t get remarried for the same reason that I shouldn’t have married the first time. I’m very untrustworthy, very unstable in my relationships. A committed relationship is not my glass of vodka.


It would seem that you have no genuine friends.


Yes, that’s correct. I’m not genuine friendship material either.


There’s no friend you look up to?


He isn’t a friend but yes there has been someone who mentored me. Satyendra was a couple of years younger than me and was studying mechanical engineering at Vijaywada. A voracious reader, he could analyse and dissect any book brilliantly and introduced me to the works of Plato, Emmanuel Kant, Descartes, Schopenhauer, Nietzche and Ayn Rand. At times, I believed he was a more profound philosopher than any of them, maybe because he made their books sound so simple to me.


Lecturers at the college were nervous about Satyendra. He’d stroll in to class in Hawaiian chappals, scribble some notes on a sheet of paper and leave if he was bored. He was into cinema too. We saw Coma, the medical thriller adapted from Robin Cook’s novel. The leading lady, Genevieve Bujold gets trapped in a hospital morgue full of plastic covered dead bodies. Like the rest of audience, I was terrified for the heroine. He wasn’t. He was concerned about the dead bodies, where they came from, what kind of lives they may have led. He always had another take.


And once we met our college principal at a cinema hall after a show of Papillon. Satyendra had seen if for the seventh time. The principal said the film didn’t merit so many viewings to which Satyendra retorted, “So why do you make love to your wife every night?” The principal walked away but years later he wrote an article in which he described Satyendra as his most unforgettable student ever.


Would you acknowledge Satyendra as your guru then?


I don’t understand the meaning of the word guru. Everyone has a mind of his or her own, no one can be indoctrinated. One can accept the thoughts one wants to and ignore the rest. To be honest I was insanely jealous of him. For a housing project I had to prepare at college, he wrote the foreword in a minute. I still remember the opening lines, “Ever since the first quiverings of life animated a lifeless lump of clay, it has been a biological imperative to seek shelter from the elements and predators. In the animal world, this has remained at the basic instinctive level. Among human being, it has evolved into a complex form.”


Have you maintained contact with him?


I tried to. When I was shooting in Vijaywada for a film, I traced him to a windowless room stacked with books. His eyes were unseeing, blank. While we spoke I got the feeling that he wasn’t really glad to see me again. I bored him, we had nothing to talk about. He’s the most uncompromised individual I have ever met in my life, he’s like Howard Roark of The Fountainhead..and leads a life according to his own principles.



What me lonely?

Aren’t you apprehensive that since you don’t have single friend, you could become a lonely old man some day.


I prefer to be a lonely old man than to be a lonely old husband. I won’t need someone to give me my medicines during my old age, if I live that long. I can hire someone to do that. I don’t need love or concern. I can’t stand fake affection. If I’m feeling unwell and someone says, “How are you? I hope you get well soon”, I hate that person – for reminding me that I can get sick too.


Why?


Because I want to feel as if I’m a superhero. I live in a fantasy world.


According to me you have a hard exterior..although, inside you’re quite a bacha, a softie.


Who says bachas can’t be hard? Bachas are harder and meaner than adults when they want to be. See I’m very clear about what I want in life, I’m very clear about my priorities. I don’t feel guilty about being selfish. I’m old enough to understand myself and the people around me. For me, happiness means getting up in the morning and do just what I want to. I enjoy every moment of filmmaking. When the result releases, whether it clicks at the box office or not, doesn’t matter to me.


















Khalid Mohamed is a renowned film critic, screenwriter&film critic












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