Simplicity of middle class was basis of 'Vivah': BarjatyaNov 30, 2006 Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Dec 1 (IANS) Despite bad reviews from critics, Soorja Barjatya's "Vivah" is doing well at the box office and the director feels vindicated that audiences, especially the middle class, have liked his film on the sanctity of marriage.
"I was prepared for the flak. My audience is the hardcore middle class - my son's tuition teacher, my maid, not South Mumbai residents," Barjatya told IANS in an interview.
"Throughout its making I was told these kind of films don't work, that the times have changed and the moral values are no longer the same. But I'm so happy to see that our traditional values still exist."
He says that the simplicity of middle class was the basis of Shahid Kapur and Amrita Rao starrer "Vivah".
"The film is actually based on a newspaper story that my father read 17 years back. The incident about a man who stood by his wife seemed to signify the simplicity of our middleclass. That became the basis of 'Vivah'.
"This time I removed all the big sets from my earlier films, and shot on real locations. In this film there are no wedding festivities and functions. That's why I called it 'Vivah' and not 'Shaadi'."
Excerpts from the interview:
What prompted you to put "Vivah" on the Internet?
Whenever I'd ask my friends in distant European countries if they had seen my films they'd complain they had no access to them. It was then that I decided we needed some way to reach to audiences who have no access to Rajshri films in theatres.
It's my cousin Rajat who has handled the release of "Vivah" on the Internet. It's not just a way of increasing the reach of my film it's also a good way of stopping piracy.
Were the reviews hurtful?
Every director likes his film to be praised. But if you look at my films even "Hum Aapke Hain Koun" was panned by the critics. I was prepared for the flak. My audience is the hardcore middleclass - my son's tuition teacher, my maidservant, not the South Mumbai residents.
Even Karan Johar is your biggest fan.
It's his greatness to say that. But the response to "Vivah" has been amazing. During a tour of north India we were chased my motor-bikers from Faridabad to the Haryana border. A lady in Kanpur told me "Vivah" was her love story. I never had people coming to me with this kind of response for my last film "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon".
What was the lesson that you learnt through "Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon"?
There was a great turmoil within me. My self-confidence was shaken. My father stood by my convictions. I realised every director has to do what he believes in. "Vivah" took me back to my roots. Throughout its making I was told this kind of films don't work, that the times have changed and the moral values are no longer the same. But I'm so happy to see that our traditional values still exist.
Were Shahid Kapur and Amrita Rao your only choices?
Looking back, I can't think of any other two actors in the two roles. When I started planning "Vivah", I thought of two newcomers. But thank god I changed my mind. Shahid, Amrita and I have shared every moment of "Vivah". Their personalities are totally different from what they are in "Vivah". They just surrendered to my vision.
A lot of people find the Shahid-Amrita romance to be exceedingly noble.
"Vivah" is actually based on a newspaper story that my father read 17 years back. The incident about a man, who stood by his wife, seemed to signify the simplicity of our middleclass. That became the basis of "Vivah". This time I removed all the big sets from my earlier films, and shot on real locations. In this film there are no wedding festivities and functions. That's why I called it "Vivah" and not "Shaadi".
These aren't elements that the multiplex audience would normally relate to?
Audiences today are intelligent enough to go by the sincerity of the director's sensibility. If I was to unnecessarily glamorise a girl from Mathura, then I'd have been gone. Believability is most crucial. So many people tell me "Vivah" takes them back to a life they had once known. After watching the film Pamela Chopraji (director Yash Chopra's wife) told me something beautiful. 'I wish life remained an engagement and nothing else'.
When Rajshri Productions went through a low, what did you realise about the industry?
They gave us many chances to bounce back. Three of our productions including "Uff...Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai" didn't work primarily because they moved away from what you call our formula. Our first step towards recovering lost ground was the TV serial "Woh Rehne Wali Mehlon Ki". That's where we decided we needed to keep the spirit of nobility alive. We didn't want a soap where characters slipped up in their morality. It was a time for us to re-learn.
Are you as noble as your characters?
(Laughs) I don't know. But in our films we've to give hope. If you see my family we're all there for each other. Till the age of 10, I didn't know who was my real father. That's how closely-knit we are. An elderly gentleman who had to go through an open-heart surgery in four days came to know there was a trial show for a Rajshri film he insisted on seeing it. After "Vivah", he came up to me and said, 'Soorajji I want to live now.' That was my biggest moment of triumph.
What next? A sequel to "Vivah" with Salman Khan in the lead?
(Laughs) Right now I'm just too relieved about the response to "Vivah". I want to read Hindi literature, travel across the world to decide what I want to do next. As for Salman, he'll always be special to our banner. But Shahid has also given a 100 percent of himself, like Salman bhai. All the questions that he had about an arranged marriage were turned to the film's advantage. Shahid's Prem is as good as Salman's. As Shahid acted I could see Salman return.
Would "Vivah" have worked with Salman?
Oh, equally. Except for the age. Salman and I are both 40-plus now. Asking him to play a 23-year-old would have been unrealistic. But for Shahid to perform with such conviction is amazing. When Shahid's father Pankaj Kapur said he connected with "Vivah", I felt so happy. As for Amrita she surrendered her soul to "Vivah".
What thoughts now?
Relieved and happy.
Click the Movie button below for more info: