No posterity, no philosophy, filmmaker Vikram Bhatt makes movies for the most banal and basic motive – entertainment, and he isn’t apologetic about it. The writer-director-producer talks about his forthcoming production Hate Story, which is being called Bollywood’s first erotic film
Hindi cinema has matured in the way it deals with love-making and sexual acts on the big screen. Directors no longer resort to metaphors like the nodding together of flowers to depict lovers in a physical act, or take close-ups of a hero and heroine at an angle to make it appear as if they are kissing, even though they really aren’t. But when you watch the trailer of Hate Story, you could feel that Bollywood is moving too fast, progressing at light speed to new standards of sexual depiction. We haven’t seen anything so explicit from a mainstream production. Perhaps that’s the reason the film’s promo has caught on like crazy, at least in the viral world.
Vikram Bhatt, the man who wrote the script and dared to put his big bucks on erotica isn’t perturbed by the hue and cry his work has caused. “I have to sell the film,” says he. “But if you watch the promo carefully, it starts with a girl in love and then goes through a mess. It’s about a girl who wants to take revenge. It depends on what you see in it. It is about a girl who wants to use her sexuality to take revenge. You might see revenge or sexuality. I see revenge.”
Sex may seem like a bait to lure audiences in to the cinema halls, but the filmmaker insists it isn’t the unique selling point of the film. “The USP of Hate Story is a girl who loses her soul to love, but after a series of events realises she has no use for her body, though the world has. So the game begins… She wants to use the world and the world wants to use her. The story might get lost in the promos, but not in the film,” says the salt-and-pepper-haired writer-producer.
He was originally going to direct the film, but reportedly became squeamish about shooting the intense, sexual acts. Thus he roped in director Vivek Agnihotri to visually interpret his story. Bhatt denies shying away. He says, “I chose to get someone else because I am little blase and I have done it in films like Kasoor, Raaz and Fareb – I have done my bit with sexuality. So personally I didn’t take it forward. I needed another mind, a younger mind who saw things differently than I did.” But wouldn’t experience count when dealing with such mature content? “Everyone’s had experience in sex, so I don’t think that’s much of a problem.”
Hate Story may have trouble with the Censor Board for being too sexy – in fact, some of the dialogue that Paoli Dam, the lead actor, has to say has already rung alarms. Rumour has it that the film has a little frontal nudity too. “There is no frontal nudity,” denies Vikram. “There is nothing that we have done in the film that will not pass the censors. What is bold is not the sex in the film. You have seen films with more sexual content. What is, according to me, bold in the film is the attitude of the character.”
Bengali actor Paoli plays the bold character in Hate Story. Bhatt feels an established leading lady wouldn’t add freshness to the role. “Also, an established actor would have more qualms. It’s a new film, a new idea that would be best with a new person.” During the casting discussions, it was the writer-producer’s suggestion to cast the dusky young woman. He had his reasons: “I have seen some of her work she has done in Bengal. She has no inhibitions. But I just didn’t need some girl who could do the sex bits well, I needed someone who was a fabulous actor. Fortunately, Paoli is a fabulous actor and that’s the plus point. I might find tons of women who are willing to take their clothes off onscreen, but that wasn’t the main criterion.”
While thrilling the audience with bold scenes or horrifying people with supernatural stories has become Bhatt’s current fare, it was different when he started out in B-town. The 40-plus director made romance, comedy and action flicks too. He says, “These days I think you don’t get points for being prolific; you get points for being branded. So I’d rather be known for a certain kind of movie. And let’s face it, which director isn’t known for a certain kind of film in the industry?” He continues, “I am not a director who wants to take up such challenges. I am a director who wants to earn money, entertain people, live a good life and die rich.”
Bhatt recently completed 20 years in Bollywood. How does he view his journey? “I have done some really good work and then I have done some really bad work and then I have done some really good work again,” says the Hate Story producer. “I think what’s important is that the need to be remembered after you are dead and gone is a futile exercise. I think we are here to entertain people – that’s our basic job! And if I have managed to entertain people in a film, it’s great. I don’t want to confuse cinema with art. There are people who make cinema as art and I wish them all the best. But I would rather bring thrills or entertain audiences for three hours than indulge in this shebang of posterity and evergreen films and all that b*^%#@*t!”