'Rang...' gone beyond anything I had anticipated: RakeyshFeb 10, 2006 Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Feb 10 (IANS) Two weeks after its release, it's crystal clear that "Rang De Basanti" is a huge success. The ramifications are far and wide. And director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is personally visiting every major city in the country to see how the film has connected with people.
"The credit must go to the audiences for its success. It is crazy... I was at Abhishek's (Bachchan) birthday bash on Sunday night. The entire industry was there. Everyone, from actors, directors to producers, came up to me to speak about 'Rang De Basanti'. Now I am dying to show the film to Amit-ji (Amitabh Bachchan). I am feeling incomplete without his viewing the film."
In a day or two, Amitabh Bachchan is expected to visit a theatre close to his home to watch his "Aks" director's achievement.
"From day one of the release he has been in touch. Amit-ji was the first one I called the day the film was ready. The second weekend... and it is still going houseful.
"It hasn't gone to the 'C' centres yet. The prints are consumed by 'A' and 'B' centres. My Mumbai distributor Anil Thadani educated me on the collections. Earlier there were 28 shows per week. Now it is like 14 shows per day. So technically the film has already completed 100 days."
The film has also triggered a debate on communal strife.
"It was so important for Om Puri-ji to play the brief part of a Muslim father. I needed a powerful voice. It had to be the voice of the minority. It had to be convincing. I was in Ahmedabad. I was invited by Ashok Bohra (who pioneered the multiplex movement in Gujarat) to see the film in old Ahmedabad, which is a riot-sensitive area. I had a really rewarding time. Suddenly, I realised I was watching the film with a very sensitive audience.
"The Hindu-Muslim issue in 'Rang De Basanti' concerned them. I spoke to the audience after the film. In fact, the next show was delayed by half an hour while I spoke to the audience, which was 70 percent Muslim and 30 percent Hindu. We had an informal debate. They were very happy with my film because it propagates the idea of living in communal harmony."
The film's relevance is multiplying with every passing day.
"I'm just a cog in the wheel. 'Rang De Basanti' is a venting of so many ideas simmering within me. Please try to understand, I am not important. The film is. But I can't allow myself to be weighed down by these considerations. A lady in Ahmedabad asked me to do more films like 'Rang De Basanti', which provoke thought.
"But I can't be holier-than-thou about it. I can't whip up an identical sincerity and passion within myself. Things that bother you come out on screen. There're so many other issues other than the ones in 'Rang De...' Just because it worked I can't take on the role of social reformist. If and when it happens again, it will. I have to completely believe in what I do."
Rakeysh has already is touring the country with his cast.
"The IIT in Chennai will hold a screening for 3,000 students in an open-air theatre... It's done very well abroad. It's gone beyond anything I had ever anticipated."
Rakeysh is shy when asked about the success bash in Mumbai. "It was my producer Ronnie Screwvala. He threw a small bash and put my name as a host. We hadn't really celebrated the film's completion or success."
For the first time in living memory a film hasn't been bitched out by jealous elements in the industry.
"I'm lucky. They love my film. The best message came from Arshad Warsi. He said, 'Even the film's food is a hit.' Both Arshad and I are passionate about food. At one time I had offered Arshad a role in 'Rang De Basanti'.
"They have understood... there is something... The film has gone out of my hands. It is no more my film. I have quietly stepped back. People say, I have opened a pandora's box. But I have actually closed it. I had pre-conceived notions about how the film industry reacts to others' successes. But when I see their genuine love for 'Rang De Basanti', I'm pleasantly surprised... I want to go to every city in India and see personally how the film has connected."
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Rang De Basanti