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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Isha and Urmila both ditched me: Kalpana Lajmi

Critically acclaimed director Kalpana Lajmi had announced her next film Mujhe Rang De quite sometime ago but it shows no signs of going on the floors. TWF correspondent Vickey Lalwani checks out what is going on at Lajmi’s end.

She is a niece of legendary filmmaker Guru Dutt. On her own, Kalpana Lajmi walks tall as an award-winning filmmaker for movies like Ek Pal, Rudali, Darmiyaan, Daman, etc.

But she has been unusually silent after her last film Chingaari. Now Mujhe Rang De (with Ishaa Koppikar, Rahul Dev, Rituparna Sengupta) announced sometime ago is yet to get off the block. What’s happening on the Lajmi front?

Excerpts from an interview:

What is happening to Mujhe Rang De?
The film was supposed to start in October but has now been put on the backburner.

Ishaa has opted out.

You could have taken someone else?
I turned to Urmila Matondkar to step into Ishaa’s shoes. Urmila agreed. Few days later, even she backed out.

But hadn’t Ishaa signed on the dotted line?

So why did she opt out after that?
She suddenly fell silent and refused to respond to my calls. I told Mahendra Dhariwal (the producer) that it was clear that she was not interested in the project anymore. She kept me in the dark for nearly six months. Till then, I had made several calls to her- but to no avail.

Finally, she informed my assistant that we couldn't reach her simply because she had disconnected her phone since somebody was stalking her. For six months? God!

What did you do then?
I approached Urmila Matondkar, but before that I sent a SMS to Ishaa.

What did the message say?
The message read: 'Ishaa, you are a very fine person. I like you very much. But please don't get caught up with people who don't show you the mirror of reality'.

What happened with Urmila? Did she too opt out?
Suddenly she told me that she won't be able to give me dates since she was busy with shows. I told her that I was ready to wait till her shows get over- but she insisted that I let this pass. What could I do? Am I in a position that I can sit and make enemies?

Is it because Mahendra Dhariwal is not a big name and today’s actors want to work with big banners only?
This sort of a problem is not being faced by Dhariwal alone. Almost all single producers are going through hell. The entire crop of actors has become very strange. Every actor looks at the banner before signing a film.

Yes, they want to work with only big banners. Plus, these three film contracts which have become an in-thing these days have spoilt the actors. Imagine Upen Patel getting 50 lakhs per movie! How can single producers pay as much?

You mean actors are charging too much?
Precisely. Think of it, why are actors charging so much when none of them except Shah Rukh Khan can guarantee a hit?

Consider Chak De! India. I wouldn't say that the girls were great, they were just good. Take away SRK from the film, and with all its good intent intact, it would not have run away to the glory it has achieved.

Do people here understand what cinema is all about?
People have yet to understand that a film is not about a hero and a heroine. It is about storytelling. Is it any wonder that films are not even running for two weeks these days?

Our industry folk keep blaming external factors like cricket, rain and school and college exams for their own failure. There was a time when realistic cinema existed in mainstream cinema.

Today, for some strange reason, everyone is expected to only make feel-good films.

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