"I never like to compromise " Director Raj Khosla (This interview is from the old Mayapuri issue)

Cine-Ma: When I called Raj Khosla's house, his secretary Ved Prakash picked up the phone. He turned out to be an old acquaintance of mine. My work became easier. He fixed a time to meet at Khosla ji's office on the third day at his Bandra office.

By Sulena Majumdar Arora
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I never like to compromise  Director Raj Khosla (This interview is from the old Mayapuri issue).jpg

I never like to compromise Director Raj Khosla (This interview is from the old Mayapuri issue).jpg

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When I called Raj Khosla's house, his secretary Ved Prakash picked up the phone. He turned out to be an old acquaintance of mine. My work became easier. He fixed a time to meet at Khosla ji's office on the third day at his Bandra office.
On the third day, when I went to his office at 3 o'clock, I was told by Ved ji that he had just slept after having lunch. Ved Prakash ji greeted me, asked for hot tea and told me that Johnny Bakshi's film 'Mera Dushman' under the banner Ramayana is being made by the direction of Khosla ji from next week. Also another film, 'Maati mange khoon' And the third film 'Dasi' will be shot continuously for several days and along with it, his own new film "Shrimati Ji" will also be shot continuously for ten days.

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I said, "so it will be a multicast film.?" On this, Ved Prakash ji expressed his surprise at my ignorance and said - 'Hey, you don't know. It has Raj Kiran, Padmini Kolhapuri, Nutan, Amjad Khan etc." Oh! So that is a mini multicast film. I said jokingly.
While we were chatting like this, Khosla ji gave a call  from inside.
I understood that Khosla ji, doesn't sleep deeply after taking lunch, he just takes a light nap."
As soon as I entered the cabin, he shook hands and offered me a cigarette. I said "I don't smoke.  Then I started wondering where should I start the conversation. I remembered that his father had passed away a few days ago. A thought ran through my mind like lightning. While expressing my condolences on the demise of his father, I said - When the oldest person in the house dies, it has a deep impact on his close relatives and sometimes it has a philosophical impact. They then transforms to another world thinking about life and death. So what effect did your father's death have on you and your mood?"

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His eyes closed slightly at my question, he said with some calmness - My father was not from this film world. . He had no connection with films but was involved in literature. He did M.A. in Literature.  He was careful in everything. When he left I felt as if I have gone into a space. The silence of emptiness fell upon me. We all felt as if we had suddenly grown up."

'Along with growing up, you have also become experienced. I said this jokingly and from there I started the basic interview and said –" To date you have given the best heart touching films and you have also made a lot of commercial films. Some of your films did well and some did not do as expected, so can you now give a box office formula from your experience?"

He gave a very clear answer - 'No, not at all. No one can say anything about that. I Don't know who has the key of success . Still, I can say that if I like the story, if the person to whom I tell it also likes it, then the film made on that story will definitely be liked. A good story which we can call a truly heart touching, heart affecting story. It definitely has universal appeal. Yes, one more thing is that the making of the story should also be the same."

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As the conversation continued, I remembered that Raj Khosla always had arguments with  his film's writers. During Dostana, he had some dispute with Salim Javed,
K. A. Narayan has said a lot against him in one of his interviews, so I asked a blunt question.

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"Why do you keep quarreling with writers?" As soon as he heard my question , he was shocked and then lightly puffed on the cigarette and said – I fight with my writers? Never. If there had been a fight with the writers, I would not have had a single writer working for me for the last eighteen years. But yes - when I took direction of  outside producer's films, I always told their writers about my point regarding my difference of opinion. After all I am the director, I am the captain of the ship. If a film falters due to the weakness of the story or the weakness of the script, then the responsibility for it ultimately falls on the director . I don't like compromise when it comes to story. But that doesn't mean I'm quarrelsome."

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When the question came about the story, it was also necessary to discuss the star system. I asked , "Are you also a follower of starism?"
He said flatly - "Absolutely not. If the story is of one star, then I will not force two stars in it. I have always believed that the story comes first and then the selection of artists. I agree casting is important but it should not dominate the story. If we have to make a historical or costume film or make grand films based on any religious text like Ramayana, Mahabharata, then we will have to hire big stars according to the characters. So then, movies like this will be grand multicast movies but only because of the subject. It is not reasonable to make multicast films just for the sake of making multi cast film. You are already seeing the results of such films."

I said, "You are right, I understand, but we also have a complaint against you."
" What's that?" he asked.
'You made a heart touching emotional film like "Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki". You gave a new light to the film people, but you also soured our hearts by making fake multicast commercial, action-packed films like "Dostana".

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He smiled a bit at my statement. Then after some moment he said, 'Dostana'. It was a matter of friendship. The thing is that, earlier the director of that film was someone else. It's producer Yash Johar had burnt a lot of money in its production. They are our friends. He insisted that I should direct his film. After all I had to maintain the friendship. Similarly, I also directed Sunil Dutt's film 'Nahle Pe Dehla' for the sake of friendship. I kept telling Dutt Sahab for nine months that I did not like the story, but there is no scope for saying No or not listening to my friends to direct their picture. . Today I have no hesitation in admitting that I should not have taken up those kind of films. But Dutt Sahab was upset with the failure of 'Reshma Aur Shera', Yash Johar was also in trouble. In that situation I could not say outright No. A mistake was made.

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Then I drew the attention of Khosla Saheb to the announcement of Shri V.P. Sathe, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in which it was said that the Central Government is going to give the status of an full fledged industry to the film industry and now the film people will get loans from banks etc and many other facilities are going to be available. Drawing attention to this, I asked – will it really make any difference in the making of films?

Khosla ji expressed his opinion very seriously, "Although this announcement has come quite late, still it should be welcomed. But I think - in reality, unless the artistes themselves apply self-discipline and unless the financing agency, be it a bank or someone else, has faith that the films would be made soon, nothing will happen. Why should the banks  start giving loans in doubtful situations? In this regard, I am going to talk to Actors Guild chief Dev Anand. You might remember that earlier we had imposed a rule on artistes not to take more than six films together. But what happened? It was not a happy decision  for the producers nor for the artists. The matter ended there. That's why I say this again and again that if the artists themselves apply self-discipline and declare that they will not sign many films at the same time and they will work not on multiple shifts, then only the film industry will get some benefit from it.  Then bank people will also have deep interest in the production of films.

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We then talked about many other issues like the condition of today's  film industry, Raj Khosla ji accepted that our production sector is very disorganized, he said, "look, in Hollywood - they give straight six weeks contract to the stars. According to that contract, the stars cannot work in any other film after signing the contract, They cannot enjoy public parties from Monday to Friday. They cannot travel by air until the shooting is over. They cannot ride a motorcycle, they cannot have an affair during the shooting and there are many other special things in that contract. The work is done very strictly. This is the system there. But here the contract is signed after the shooting is over. The shooting dates are not given by the producer but by the artist. What a disgusting thing! How can people have confidence in such a disorganized production sector?"
"So isn't nationalization the solution?" I asked.
Khosla Saheb said- "What will happen with mere nationalization? The basic thing is that more and more theaters should be built in the country. See, there are thirty crore people in Russia for whom there are more than one lakh theatres, but in our country there are more than sixty crore people, but  hardly ten thousand theatres. Therefore, to bring the film industry into gear, firstly the production sector should be streamlined and secondly, more and more theaters should be built. If this work is done, it will be more effective than nationalization.

In this context, I told Khosla ji that discussions are being held regarding building public theaters in the country. V Shantaram ji has also created a trust for it . Will the movement to build public theaters prove to be effective?" To this, Khosla ji said, "I don't think so. How will films that are made with lakhs of rupees be shown in public theaters at tickets worth one rupee each ? Yes-small budget films may benefit as they will not have to wait for big theatres. Still, I think that won't be of much use."

When Raj Khosla took the name of small budget films, I said –" These days, efforts are being made to draw lines between art and commercial films. There is a movement in the name of art films, what is your opinion about it?

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He said in a forceful voice -," I believe that a good film is a grand film. The films of New Theatres, Bombay Talkies, Devaki Babu, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, V Shantaram, Mehboob Khan etc. were very successful and established new traditions in film production, are they not art films?  when the commercial films are repeatedly discussed  I feel to laugh. The reality is that out of  hundred films, only ten are commercial hits. Therefore, it is not appropriate to draw a line between art and commercial films. The film is either good or bad. There can be only these two types of films."

I asked – “Does the director have all the responsibility in film making?”
" Yes he is the master. " Khosla ji promptly said.

I expressed my apprehension by saying , "But - - - err- - "
"But what?" He asked with surprise. I replied, - "These days, while doing the rounds of coverage on different sets, I have observed that dance directors organise the dance scenes, Fight masters direct the fight scenes. Art directors creates sets. Light men do the lighting of the shoots as per their wish, cameramen shoots the scenes as they like , then what is the responsibility of the directors? They just sit on the director's armchair."

On listening to this, Khosla Saheb laughed a little, lit a new cigarette and said –" I don't talk about others. I speak for myself. The dance masters or fighters or music directors, they all work as per my instructions. The leadership in the direction field of the film  remains mine. The ultimate responsibility is mine. Everyone may have their own opinion but the final work will be done as per my wish. Just as in the army, the army operates as per the orders of the captain, the same thing happens during my film direction. The people working in the film unit will be differ , but the master mind will be mine. The blue print will be only as per my direction.  Unity of time, place and character is very important in a film and this unity is in the hands of the director. While composing music, I take only those tunes which I like and which I consider suitable as per my story.”

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As soon as he finished this, I asked, "So, because of your interference, Rajesh Roshan left your famous film 'Dasi'? Or did you remove him for special reasons and replace him with Ravindra Jain?"
Clarifying his opinion about this controversy, he said - "There is no question of being fired. Actually, Rajesh Roshan had composed western tunes, which did not fit my story. We both mutually agreed to part ways in a very homely amicable environment." I Decided to have only two of his composition songs recorded in this film."


With these academic talks, both of us started feeling that we have become quite serious. Just to lighten the atmosphere, I asked – "Why do you glorify womanhood in your films?"

He touched his head with both his hands in due respect and said, “This is the influence of my mother. My mother has had a very deep impact on my life, and then in my experience too, I  observed that men are very treacherous. In the most difficult times of life, a woman stands alone bearing everything. A man breaks down - a woman does not break, a woman sacrifices till the end."

"I don't agree with you." I said.
" How?" He asked .
I said, " In today's  modern time, it is being seen that mostly the woman ditches the man."

Hearing this, Raj Khosla asked a counter question, "Are you talking about the film world or the outside society?"
I said, "Both."
On this he said, "But I am talking about Indian womanhood, not about Western type woman. And even in western countries, in general, the role of woman is always great. This is what I understand."

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I wanted to argue with him on this issue for some more time, but I felt this was not the opportunity.
I changed the topic and asked him about the gossips which he was facing through many film magazines, he immediately closed his ears and said - "It is very wrong. Let me tell you, I don't don't allow any film magazine in my house. I do not want to pollute the environment of my home . My three daughters have grown up, so I keep away from film magazines."

"Why don't you make films on Hindi novels?" I asked.
Raj Khosla said, "I want to make but my problem is that I have studied Urdu. Urdu translations of Hindi novels are rarely available. And even though I have heard and read about few of them, I did not find them suitable for my film. Film is a medium for watching and listening – not for reading. Still, if you have any good novel in mind, please let me know. ,

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The interview was towards the end, so I said, - "I want to ask one important question in the end of my interview . Nowadays directors live in great tension and work under great pressures. Do You - - ?"
Even before I could complete my sentence, Khosla Saheb said with great confidence - "I never work in tension. I never shoot while in pressure. If I even see any of my artist in tension on the set, I cancel the shooting." Things had reached the end - - - so getting up, I said, "Very soon I will come to watch the shooting of your upcoming film." Raj Khosla saheb shook my hands and said, " you are very Welcome."

------Pannanalal Vyas
(Translated by Sulena Majumdar Arora)

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