Vishal Bhardwaj on his ability to make literature tick on celluloid.
To me script is the bible. Once it’s bound i don’t want to fiddle with it.
Universal appeal: From Vishal Bhardwaj’s
He is the man of the moment. Post ‘Omkara,’ the multi-faceted Vishal Bhardwaj is the centre of attraction wherever he goes. Recently he was in Mussoorie as part of the Mussoorie International Writers’ Festival where his long-awaited ‘Blue Umbrella’ based on the novel of Ruskin Bond was screened at the Woodstock School.
Writers of all hues flocked around the director praising him for his ability to help literature move from the pages to celluloid. Among them was Ruskin Bond, who praised Vishal for capturing the lyrical value of his novel through some excellent photography.
Meanwhile, the young and the old jived to ‘Bidi Jalaile,’ as Stephen Alter, who is coming out with a book on the making of ‘Omkara,’ quietly slipped a disc into the DVD player. The boy from Bijnore reflects on the city, which has inspired many a writer. “Mussoorie is my favourite destination and my association with the city started when I used to come here to play cricket with Tom (Alter). Then ‘Blue Umbrella’ happened. The script of ‘Omkara’ was
also written here.”
Talking about his fascination for converting literary works into scripts, Vishal says it’s risky. “But in the film business there is no gain without coming up with something novel. In the past, Indian literary classics like ‘Devdas’ have been used as screenplays, but nobody tried to use world literature. I love all the works of Shakespeare, so I started with him. I take emotions and translate them into identifiable characters, like the witches in Macbeth were turned into corrupt policemen played by Naseer and Om Puri in ‘Maqbool’.”
Vishal modestly says “honest intentions” have worked in his favour.Starting as a musician who used to play the harmonium in concerts in Delhi, Vishal hit big time when he collaborated with Gulzar on his tele-serials. Gulzar gave him a break as a music composer in ‘Maachis’ and the rest is history. Today Vishal not only composes, he sings, he writes and of course is one of the most happening directors in the industry, who deals with a range of subjects, from kids in films like ‘Makdee’ to AIDS awareness projects.
“It is not at all difficult to do all these jobs, because I don’t have to do all of them at the same time. Also I live in extremes. I like extreme reactions to my work,” he quips.
On a serious note, he adds, “To me the script is the bible. Once it’s bound I don’t want to fiddle with it.”
Vishal says it was the moderate commercial success and critical acclaim of ‘Maqbool’ that changed his status in the industry. “If I had offered Saif Ali Khan a part in ‘Maqbool’, he would not have accepted. In ‘Omkara’ he agreed to shave his head without any fuss.”
Vishal is not ready to talk much about the future. There has been talk of him directing Uma Thurman, his project with Shekhar Kapoor…. “‘Mantra,’ the project with Shekhar Kapoor, has been shelved. Right now I am working on a script that centres on World War-II. That’s all.”
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