Criticism amuses 'Silsilay' maker Khalid Mohamed

Jun 18, 2005 Subhash K. Jha, Jun 18


Mumbai, June 18 (IANS) Beware of journalists who cross over to make movies. They are constantly ridiculed and their work is weighed against their past critique of other filmmakers' works.

Khalid Mohamed is more amused than exasperated. "That's so weird. In France, every other journalist makes films - if not features then documentaries. What's wrong with that? It's like saying Suraiya shouldn't have acted because she sang.

"My 'Fiza' was massacred. But now they say it's nice. Hopefully, they'll massacre 'Silsilay' and say my previous film 'Tehzeeb' was nice," guffaws journalist-turned-director Khalid Mohamed.

He is more or less resigned to the lack of publicity for his film.

"Producer Vashu Bhagnani was just not interested in promoting 'Silsilay', maybe because he had bigger films to look into. In fact he's in Florence right now for David Dhawan's 'Shadi No.1'. Mine is a very chhota (small) film in comparison."

Shouldn't the producer be here for the release of his film? Khalid shrugs. "I don't know. I just feel grateful to Mr. Bhagnani for allowing me to make a film. These days, to get a producer for a film that isn't cheesy or sleazy isn't easy. At least Vashuji made it possible for me...We did have differences during the final editing. Fortunately he isn't a stubborn man and he relented finally."

What sort of differences?

"See, the film became too long....He made some truly brilliant suggestions for cuts which I largely agreed to, and cut the film down to two hours and 15 minutes. Then before I knew it, I heard he was cutting down the film further behind my back in collaboration with my editor. That's where I decided to do the tandav (dance of destruction)."

So is "Silsilay" a homage to Yash Chopra's "Silsila?"

"I thought of actually calling my film 'Adaa'. But the title was registered for a Gulshan Grover-Diana Hayden flick. Then...since Mr. Chopra's son Aditya made "Mohabbatein", I thought why not 'Silsilay'? Besides it suits my theme to perfection. 'Silsilay' is about a crisscross of relationships. It's like 'Love Actually' in terms of style and format. There are three main relationships, one of them concerns an actress from Telugu movies, played by Bhumika Chawla, who comes to Mumbai to become a star and has a live-in relationship with Rahul Bose....It's about those times in a relationships when we say no when we actually mean yes."

Most of the films that Khalid has written or directed have had a touch of the autobiographical.

"Not this time...Though the characters are based on people I've met. They could be characters from my neighbourhood or in the film industry...."

All of Khalid's cinema so far has been set in a Muslim milieu.

"That's because I'm familiar with it. Only Tabu's story with Celina Jaitley and K. Menon in 'Silsilay' is about Muslim characters..."

It's believed that the infamous video clipping featuring Ashmit and Riya can be sourced to the shooting of "Silsilay". Khalid is non-committal.

"I don't know about that. But every little publicity will help my film...even the Ashmit-Riya scandal."

Ashmit apparently stepped into a role offered to Riteish Deshmukh, Tusshar Kapoor and a model named Rajneesh who had objections to kissing the heroine in "Silsilay".

"Riya Sen suited the role. My cinematographer Santhosh Sivan is so impressed by her that he has signed her for his Malayalam film. Even Ram Gopal Varma is interested in her."

About the music: "I first went to Anu Malik who gave me stock songs. I moved on to Himesh Reshammiya who gave me a choice of 40 tunes...I'm now producing an album of songs with Himesh featuring new fusion versions of folk songs from all over the country called 'Jalsa' relation to the Bachchan residence."

"Silsilay" is the largest canvas that he has depicted so far. "There're 15-16 characters in 'Silsilay'. Even passing characters are important."

Shah Rukh Khan makes a guest appearance. "We've been friends for years. I'm very fond of him. And he immediately agreed. Tabu was to work with me in 'Tehzeeb'. But she went underground after reading the script and then vanished. Maybe she didn't like the script."

Or maybe Tabu got cold feet about facing the camera with her formidable aunt Shabana Azmi?

"I don't know. But I got Urmila Matondkar in 'Tehzeeb', who was supposed to do my 'Fiza' at one point....Tabu is effortless in 'Silsilay'. She takes our breath away. Her personality extends far beyond cinema...And Rahul Bose... when he read the script, he said there was nothing for him to do. We sat down together and worked on the nuances. He was thrilled because he gets to play his favourite sport rugby...I'm very happy with the performances of Tabu, Rahul Bose, Bhumika Chawla and Natassha from Ekta Kapoor's serials in her first non-Balajee project."

Khalid stops to think. "'Silsilay' isn't a big film. But it's large-hearted film. It doesn't have heaving bosoms. But it has a large heart...and, hey, there're lots of slurpy kisses between Ashmit and Riya."

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