Friday, February 16, 2007

An interview

April 23, 2006 | 01:20 AM
An interview

I did this interview for the Times of India in Hyderabad. Not sure if they carried it, so just posted it here. I do hope they don't mind. BUt it has been with them for over a week ...

"1) In a recent interview, you mentioned that you think the genre of films that we know today might become extinct as it makes way for a "blended media approach" that will be more interactive. Do you see yourself taking the pioneering steps in that direction?"

I do hope so. After Golden Age I plan to come back to India and promote the idea of an integrated media approach. What do I mean by integrated media ? It is the new way of infotainment experience where the viewer is an active participant in the continuing experience of entertainment or information. It does not end, for example, when you walk out of a cinema theatre, but you carry on experiencing at your will through (for example) your mobile device, and also alter the experience to your own personality.

And why India ? Not only because I am Indian, but also I believe this is where the greatest talent lies. Also where the greatest desire to be active participants in entertainment and infotainment exists.

" 2) What inspired you to make a movie about the lesser discussed life of Buddha? Have you decided on the casting of the film yet ?"

Mostly a desire to explore my myself. The concepts of our sense of individuality, or the non existence of it, as contained in Buddhism, are now fundamental to my exploration of myself. Buddha's story, and his exploration of what desire means, and how to go beyond it, are so necessary in modern day society

"3) Is Pani going to serve as a sort of a wake up call? Or is it just Sci-fi - meant to inspire thought and entertain? If it's the former, then how would you benchmark the success of the movie?"

It would be silly of me to say that I would spend $ 25 million of other people's money and not be concerned about giving them the absolute possibilities of a substantial return on it. I do hope that Paani will be India's Crouching Tiger, which effectively put Chinese cinema on the map of international mainstream cinema. While so much noise is being made about Bollywood world wide, there is little product we are making that could appeal internationally. It could all fizzle out as hype if we are not careful.

What we need to do is tell stories that touch the psyche of audiences world wide. Water is such an issue. Water shortages affect almost 95% of the world's population now, and is one of the most immediate envioromental disasters that is already upon us. Ask any Indian.

So in that sense we don't need a wake up call. We know Water is a huge problem. What my film deals with is when the breaking point has arrived. When the Water Wars break out. When there is a division in society between those that can afford Water and those that cannot, ad when Water becomes a weapon of economic and political control. It is the macro effect of the breaking point,

Of course, the film is couched in the most passionate love story I have ever told.

4) Talk to us about Golden Age. Are there any Oscar aspirations for the sequel to Elizabeth? Is there
pressure to replicate that kind of critical acclaim?

I don't like the pressure of Oscars. Or anything else. No film is an end game in itself. It is a continuing process of exploration of that which most reverberates in yourself. And the assumption is that what reverberates in you is fundamentally what is going on the subconscious of your audience as well. For that reason it is really important for me, as a communicator, to be continually sensitive to everything around myself. To be open to all stimuli. To not protect yourself at all, but to be sensitive to everything around you, whatever the emotional cost of that might be.

So how does the story of Golden Age relate to my life ? It is the search for the Divine. It is our struggle between our mortal, human, earthed self, and the need to break that tie and experience interconnectedness as the Elizabethans put it, or Formlessness as the Buddhists put it. It is also about the struggle between fundamentalism and tolerance, as portrayed in the battle between Phillip of Spain and Elizabeth. A battle that ended in Phillip setting out one of the biggest maritime expeditions ever, the Spanish Armada.
> 5) What motivates you to blog? Does that serve as a
> platform for connect with the people you want to
> reach out to with your movies or is it just about
> expression and being heard? Do you think blogosphere
> is a space where world opinions can be shaped on a
> mass scale soon? Will it replace editorials in
> newspapers, or at any rate make them less relevant.

I think Blogging is the greatest revolution of our times. So far we are just seeing the periphery. It is the ultimate democratic way of making your voice heard. It is finally freedom of expression as guaranteed by our constitution. For what use is freedom of expression of you have no way for your to have your voice heard ? Other than through a media controlled by vested interests ?

Where will be blogging go ? Live streaming Blog Radio, broadcast over the Internet by any one individual. Live streaming Blog TV, broadcast not by a huge corporate entity, but by individuals.

I find blogging fascinating. I can relate to the rest of the world directly on a far more interactive way. I have my own website at , and contribute to a more community blog along with Deepak Chopra at
> 6) You left behind a career as a chartered
> accountant to follow your heart. Do you miss that?
> Have you ever had moments where you wondered why you
> made the switch?

Oh well, regrets and doubt is part of the human experience. Which one of us has not dreamt about rewinding life an not making the same mistakes again ? But would I go back to being a chartered accountant ? I doubt it. But I would change a lot else, if it all was possible !
> 7) Why did Hollywood call? Was there something that
> Bollywood wasn't offering or was it just a quest for
> a bigger proverbial well?

Hollywood was a a dream, yes. But it was something that I gravitated towards naturally as part of the exploration of the adventure of life. It was another adventure, and now I am looking for the next one.
> 8) Your wife has had two painting exhibitions. Did
> you always know there was a painter in her or is
> that something you both unraveled together?

Suchitra's paintings, her passion, her courage in being able to face a blank canvass, and her talent stunned me. Rarely have I had the privilege to witness the spurt of such raw and passionate talent in such short a time.

9) Does work eat into family time sometimes?

Of course.

10) If you had to write a book, what would you write

I don't think I will ever be able to finish the book, as I would wake up everyday with a new experience. A new thought. A new ending. I only end a film because I am aware of the immense cost of it.


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