A thought for your holiday
As Pooja Bhatt's "Holiday" releases this Friday, it promises to take audiences on a thinking vacation.
For a director the happiest moments come when her actors match her enthusiasm. Dino Morea and Onjolee Nair gave me lots of those happy moments.
WORDS OF BELIEF Pooja Bhatt makes a personal statement in "Holiday". Photo: SANDEEP SAXENA .
If there is a woman filmmaker, among very few in the Hindi film industry, who works with conviction, it is Pooja Bhatt. She knows that creativity comes from instinct. And she trusts her instincts. And like any other creative person, the flight of her mind is not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope. A hope that started with her first directorial venture "Paap", sailed through "Rog" and is now resting itself for some time on "Holiday", releasing this Friday.
And this time around, Pooja was alone, not accompanied by father Mahesh Bhatt on the sets (he helped her with final editing though) because she believes in what Zig Ziglar, a famous essayist, says: "You were born to win. But to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win."
And this time too, as always in her case, winning is not by the standards set by the world. It's a victory that comes when you believe that what you have, you should be satisfied with and try to make the most of it. It is a triumph that comes from within, by coming to terms with yourself and being happy with that.
And that is precisely what "Holiday" is all about. The film set in Goa is about an ordinary girl (played by debutante Onjolee Nair) who goes for a holiday with her family to Goa.
This vacation proves to be a turning point in her life, especially when she meets a dance performer played by Dino Morea. He teaches her how to love one's ordinariness and not be ashamed of it. How one should not try to become someone else.
In the characters played by Onjolee and Dino, we find quite a bit of Pooja.
And hence the film that has its premise drawn from "Dirty Dancing" is autobiographical at several places. Known for expressing her opinions honestly, here also Pooja minces no words, "When I worked in films like `Daddy' and `Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin', which are my kind of films, people in the industry loved it. But never forgot to throw this suggestion that `Daddy' and `Dil Hai Ki... ' were okay but I should do roles that have dance, etc.
I would tell them I couldn't, because I am not made that way. The other day Rajdeep Sardesai told me about a survey on dating. To my surprise, 70 per cent young people think dating should not be allowed! Then who believes in that?
The other day, I was invited to a programme on Speed Dating in which, again to my surprise, young girls and boys spoke so freely about speed dating and thought it was fine with them! So, it's about the existence of so many little Indias within a big India. But I would always think was, who are these people who set standards for you? Can't you have a goal for yourself set by you?" And for Pooja this personal goal was to see her father watch her film with "a genuine pride in his eyes".
This she achieved when she saw him "assured" after watching the film. "He said, `Your strength is that you move people. It is a relevant film with a brave casting'," she recalls nostalgically.
And for the structure that she took from "Dirty Dancing", she is candid again. "Yes I drew the structure from `Dirty Dancing'. And so comparisons with this film are inevitable, but `Dirty Dancing' was actually about the sexual awakening of a woman and is set in 1956, in the U.A. Even `Hum Tum' was drawn from `When Harry Meets Sally' but in that there was free talk on sex and orgasm. Can we do that in Indian films? `Hum Tum' Indianised it and so did I. It asks you why have you stopped believing in yourself? See when a girl from a humble background with ordinary looks sees Miss India, she gets overawed and thinks that she can never be one, as she doesn't have that `thing' in her. I ask why?"
Yes, why? Why did we think Dino Morea couldn't dance for nuts? Here he is in the film as a terrific dancer who teaches Latin American dance and more importantly, with that attitude only Pooja could locate. She feebly admits, "People in the film industry have a bad habit of writing obituaries before one has even got his due. Dino Morea has suffered it. When I asked him why he has earned a non-dancer image he said that he couldn't dance like a typical Bollywood hero. He is a Banglorean and loves to jive but he couldn't bring himself to feel free in the typical Bollywood style. And I saw in him that tendency to learn what was required in the film. He trained regularly for eights months from Bosco-Ceaser and veteran choreographer Vijay Oscar. So did Onjolee, who though a trained Kathak and ballet dancer, had to learn Latin American dance. For a director the happiest moments come when his/her actors match his/her enthusiasm. Dino and Onjolee gave me lots of those happy moments."
As for the choice of cast, Pooja has her own belief. "In the times when we have Bipasha Basu and Mallika Sherawats dominating the horizon, we need an ordinary girl like Onjolee whom any ordinary girl would identify with. When I took Onjolee after countless auditions, I told her that I had chosen her for what she is, not what she wants to become. I told the same thing to Udita Goswami also (Udita was her heroine in `Paap') but she seems to be trying to become what others want her to be."
Appreciation across border
As always Pooja took this film to Pakistan also where she got "tremendous appreciation" at the Kara Film Festival in Karachi. "Going to Pakistan is always like a pilgrimage to me. Unfortunately I couldn't show the whole film there. We showed an hour of the film and its eight songs. The President of Pakistan attended the screening and admired it very much. That people liked it there was made out from the fact that no one for even a second, left the auditorium," she beams. Similarly, in Goa she held a show "for emotional reasons" as the film is set there. But she is clear about how much she takes from the response in Goa. "The Goa audience is not a decisive audience. They liked it because of that sentimental attachment with the locales and because it is light, breezy and has lots of dances and songs. I would take my film to Indore. There if I get a positive response, I would think that I have made a nice film. There people understand a film as a film and not in parts." If it is the dictum of `Believe in yourself' that Pooja conveys through the film, she is not preaching without practicing.
We would love to believe her!
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