Subhash Ghai – The Quintessential Showman

Despite having given numerous hits, Subhash Ghai has seen several low phases in his career as a director. The soft spoken director has however proven his detractors wrong each time and continued to wow the audience with his larger than life movies. Society catches him just ahead of his latest movie’s release. 

By Manali Shah

We meet Subhash Ghai at the office of his production company, Mukta Arts, merely days after the trailer of Kaanchi, his latest, has been launched. Typical to his style, it is a film made on a large canvas. “I normally pick up social issues and present it in an entertaining manner,” Ghai describes his preferred manner of making movies. “Whether it is Karma, Pardes or Black and White, I do not pick up any story which does not touch both—my heart and my mind. My films are known to appeal to the masses and also the classes. Cinema is a craft, a device for dance, drama and music. I incorporate all of these in my movies.”

The ‘Showman’ of Bollywood, Subhash Ghai is known to make larger than life films and that’s how he likes it. However, he does watch films which portray the slice of life and enjoys art films. “I am not competing with contemporary filmmakers,” he states. “I will play my own instrument. I will present a story using my own sensibilities. If you like it, take it, if you don’t, I don’t mind.”

Having established his brand of cinema, he moves on to talk about Kaanchi—“a passionately made film about a passionate girl.” It is a love story with a revenge drama starring newbie actors Mishti and Kartik Tiwari. It has a message about the power of women. Looking at the circumstances of our country and being in touch with the youth inspired him to pen a story like Kaanchi. “I have been very fond of youngsters right from the beginning. I can see the restlessness and anger in them, against their parents, against old politicians, against the system.” Kaanchi touches upon these themes, and also has plenty of musical elements in it. Ghai is also pushing the envelope in terms of technology. He claims, “Kaanchi will be the first film that will be exhibited with Auro 3D sound, which means there will be 40 speakers in the theater.”

Speaking about his journey as a director, he explains that he has seen three generations of filmmakers through the decades. He reminisces, “In the ’60s and the ’70s, I saw great filmmakers like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Mehmood Khan and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I was quite impressed by them in my teenage years. The second generation happened with Sooraj Barjatya, Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra. In 2000, cinema again underwent a change. Directors like Anurag Kashyap showed more rural and real language. They show the ugly side of reality. My view is that cinema is beautiful, so keep it  away from all negativities. Even the villain has to be entertaining.” Holding such strong opinions, Ghai is quite the maverick in his own right!

Ghai was a student at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, and by the time he moved to Mumbai in the ’70s, the masala potboilers meant for the masses had taken over Bollywood. But, there was also a parallel cinema. Being a student of the FTII and particularly, a favourite of Ritwik Ghatak, Ghai had his own sensibilities of artistic cinema. He learnt a lot from geniuses like Mrinal Sen, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Kamal Amrohi. But, Ghai was clear on one point. He wanted to be successful. It was important for him. He was an outsider to Bombay as well as the film industry. He remembers a time when he wasn’t even allowed entry into a studio. From humble beginnings, Ghai reached the top of the ladder in no time though. “I started out with Kalicharan and Vishwanath because I wanted success. They were safe, formula films. Both were successful and I was in the game.”

Once he had cemented his place in the industry, he proceeded to make his own kind of films. He even turned producer because he didn’t want people telling him to do things a certain way. “I wanted to express myself. I made Karz with my own production. I wrote it in one go. I made what I wanted to without fear of commercial failure,” he says, looking back. “At that time, Karz was not accepted by the audience and the box office. But after 30 years, it became a cult movie. I gave many hit films in a row. But, I had a fall after Karz in the form of Krodhi, which flopped.” The ramifications of which gave him a shock. Ghai could see the media, the stars and the buyers had lost faith in him and it pained him immensely. “They write you off. They don’t value your talent, your filmography,” he rues. He cites the example of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who was praised for Rang De Basanti, criticised for Delhi 6 and now is being lauded again for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Indeed, the media flogging is faced by every filmmaker. “But, we go through so much pain. There is so much innocence and ignorance in the media. Even the stars are shaken up. They don’t pick up your phone. I have gone through this phase three to four times in my career,” he says.

However, the love of the audience kept him going. “Surprisingly, every time I meet the audience, when I go to shops, airports, etc, they say, ‘You make such wonderful films.’ They never tell me, ‘You made Yuvvraaj, a flop.’” Seeing their love and affection also gave him a boost of confidence. Ghai is used to harsh criticism but has become accustomed to it. “I just smile and laugh it away like a child. The child in me is very strong. I like being innocent about many things. I will go on making films. Kaanchi is as good as Kalicharan for me. I feel the same nervousness.”

Winding back a little, he dwells upon the time he tried going a different way with his movies. “In 2000, when the multiplex culture was shaping up, I thought I’d evolve and make a film with international sensibilities.” Till then, Ghai had been making films with unabashedly middle class Indian sensibilities. So, when he had the money and could afford it, he made Kisna, starring Vivek Oberoi and Isha Sharvani. The movie failed at the box office and Ghai is of the opinion that the film was ahead of its time. “Kisna was designed and aimed more for international sensibilities.” He is of the opinion that it is only after another 10-20 years that the audience will appreciate the aesthetics and detailing that went into it. He goes on to say that no blockbuster or film is a classic at its own time. “Films achieve the classic status after 10 years or more. The tragedy that happened with me was that for the numerous hits I gave in a row, when the movies were released, I was always bashed. Today, I meet people who had criticised Taal and Khalnayak very harshly and they say, ‘We have seen Taal six times.’ I ask them if they have forgotten what they had said back then.” Sadly, this is the music Ghai believes he will have to face with Kaanchi too and he is expecting plenty of bashing for it.

Ghai has worked with actors such as Anil Kapoor (Meri Jung, Taal, Ram Lakhan) and Dilip Kumar (Vidhaata, Karma) and established Jackie Shroff as a lead actor (Hero). We ask him about repeating his stars and he states that he belongs to the Ritwik Ghatak school of thought. “He told us that the moment actors try to dominate your entity as a director, stop working with them. Otherwise, you become a slave of the star,” Ghai explains. “You should be in command of a film, particularly, when you are the story writer.” He believes that as a director, he has to work with those actors who have faith in him. And, infamously, the faith of the actors is subject to changes as per box office results. “Many stars have physically come to me and said, ‘Sir, I want to work with you.’ They came when I was giving back to back hits. But now, I don’t know whether my name is there in their phonebooks or not.”

Ghai has also founded a world-class film institute called Whistling Woods International in Mumbai. It has been ranked among the top film schools in the world by The Hollywood Reporter. Ghai’s daughter Meghna is at the helm of affairs at the institute.

Among the current superstars, Ghai says he would love to sign on Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, who are his friends. “They love me and we meet quite often. Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Deepika Padukone are also my friends. When I wrote Kaanchi, my office kept insisting that I sign a leading star.” So, what prompted him to cast a newcomer? “My script says you should cast a new person. Like, in Pardes, Madhuri Dixit was available, but I cast Mahima Chaudhury instead. How would Madhuri have looked as Ganga in it? Similarly, I feel the same for Kaanchi. Established actors bring their own baggage. A star would have spoiled the film,” he asserts. Certainly, Ghai likes to march to his own tune. Arguably, his gut instinct has served him well. He continues to believe in his brand of cinema and is happy in own space. 
(Photo Credit: Bbhupi)

Credit: Society Magazine.


Celebrate Cinema 2014 at Whistling Woods International

Whistling Woods International recently hosted the ‘Celebrate Cinema’ festival on 17th and 18th May. The festival was inaugurated by Rekha and showman Subhash Ghai.


Followed by inauguration was a panel discussion on the new voice in Indian cinema and the panelists included Subhash Ghai, a. The music marvels put forth interesting insights on how technological advancements have changed the face of music today. Subhash Ghai said that the soul of music continues to connect to the listeners and that remains as an unchanging essence of the field.


Whistling Woods International held workshops on screenwriting, dance, stop motion filmmaking, VFX, advertising, acting for screen, 3D stereoscopic filmmaking, song picturisation, digital surround film mix, film editing, mobile filmmaking, still photography and fashion. They also paid a tribute to the acclaimed film-maker Balu Mahendra and screened his gem Sadma amongst others.


Subhash Ghai says, “We, at Whistling Woods International have always wanted to create an avenue whereby we are able to provide access to the realities of the filmmaking process to the common film lover and enthusiast. Further, we have always wanted that the vast campus & high-tech infrastructure we have built, the uniquely hands-on curriculum and the laudable faculty, guest & visiting faculty body that we have put together is accessible to film lovers & enthusiasts”

On the occasion of Celebrate Cinema, actress Rekha said, ”I have never asked anyone for an assignment; never asked a producer or a director for a role. But today I would like to ask you Subhash ji to give me some responsibility to contribute towards Whistling Woods International. I will be privileged to be here to learn more.”






’6 scenes from ‘Heropanti’ trailers where Tiger Shroff reminds us of his father Jackie Shroff from ‘Hero”

UTV Motion Pictures & Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment’s  ‘Heropanti’ is directed by Sabbir Khan and is slated to release on May 23. The film stars Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger Shroff. The movie ‘Hero’ was released in 1983. It was produced and directed by Subhash Ghai, and starred Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri as the star-crossed lovers. 

Here are 6 scenes from the trailers of ‘Heropanthi’ where Tiger reminds us of his father in Subhash Ghai’s ‘Hero’:
















Mukta Arts In Conversation With Team Box Office India

BOI: Subhashji From writer to director to producer. What’s the journey been like?

 Subhash Ghai (SG):I launched my production house by default. After directing four films, of which two were hits, I realised that the producers’ approach towards filmmaking was very different than a director’s. All they wanted to do was somehow complete the film and release it, which led to creative frustration in me.

I directed Kaalicharan and Vishwanath, which were superhits but my other two films, Gautam Govinda and Krodhi, were flops. Krodhi was one of my best scripts. I still remember the stars jumping at it when I narrated it to them, including Dharmendra who wanted me to start the film at the earliest.

When I started working as a director, I found that Kaalicharan and Vishwanath were made in one year but Krodhi and Gautam Govinda took three, three and a half years each. Shooting shuru hoti thi fir do mahine bandh ho jaati thi fir shuru hoti thiand I became restless. And I was sceptical because when you look at a three-year-old film, you may not like it as much as you did before. We kept on changing scenes and costumes with the current trends because audience tastes change every year. So the film was not what it was when we started.

I told Tolu Bajaj about these problems and asked for a solution. He suggested that I become a producer. I was very apprehensive because there’s so much to manage but he said if I wanted to make my kind of films, I should run a production house of my own. That’s how Mukta Arts was born in 1978.

And then Karz was made. I had to partner with a friend to make this film. Karz was fresh because I made it exactly as I wanted to. Unfortunately, Qurbani released at the same time and our film was a complete washout at the box office. Log kahte the film aapki achchi hain but collections Qurbani ke zyada hain as Feroz Khan was a star at the time. So we got our very first jhatka. But many people told us that we had made a film which was ahead of its time and we therefore knew we had made a quality project.

Tolu Bajaj (TB): Despite that, it went on to do jubilee at Ganga Nagar.

SG: After Karz, Gulshan Rai had signed me to direct a film for him. Raiji gave me full charge of production and just one cheque. He said he wanted to take a look at the first copy. I made Vidhaata for him, where I was also the executive producer.

Then we started Mukta Arts Pvt Ltd. The reason we converted from a partnership to a private limited company was very simple. I was a creative guy and I needed everything sorted around me, including discipline and vigilance. I didn’t want to fly high because directors have a habit of flying high after delivering hit films as they know that producers will not oppose them if the budget of their film goes overboard. I was advised by my friend not to make Mukta Arts a private limited company but I was determined to because I wanted everything sorted.

Then we made Hero. I always found that stars were a huge burden on your projects although they are a delight while selling the film. When you take a big star, the script follows them but when you take a newcomer, he follows the script.

When we follow the second rule, the film becomes superhit whether it’s a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak or Maine Pyaar Kiya. Once actors become superstars, their image takes over. So I picked up a new boy (Jackie Shroff) for Hero. Gulshan Rai loved the script but he said he couldn’t buy the film because the lead actor looked like Kabir Bedi to him. He didn’t look like an actor!

I told him he might know the economics of this industry but, from my creative perspective, he suited the role. Hero became a superhit and celebrated its golden jubilee at the box office. In Chennai alone, we ran the film for 75 weeks, four shows a day.

TB: He has had the same team throughout. And that’s because he believes in fair play. His entire team has been with him from the days of Karz. That’s the kind of goodwill that Mukta Arts enjoys.

BOI: How much did organising and corporatising the banner as Mukta Arts Pvt Ltd help you?

SG: Mukta Arts has helped me deliver superhit films one after another. We followed this rule that we would release a film as soon as it was completed. We usually start a film on October 24 – the day we launched our company and also my wedding anniversary – and release it close to August 5. We managed to do that with all our films, which were made on schedule. I am talking about the ’80s and ’90s, when films took three to four years to make. We used to maintain a chart and announce our release dates around eight months in advance.

BOI: Which everyone is doing now?

SG: They do the same thing now but we did it a long time ago. Today they announce dates for others ki main aa raha hoon, tum mat aana. But our announcements were more like a commitment to ourselves. We made all our clients extremely happy, we made sure all our partners earned profits, our distributors were extremely happy. We used to call distributors and tell them we wanted a 20 per cent profit-sharing.

I never once thought like meri pichhali film superhit hain toh main zyaada profit lu aur distributors ko barbaad kar du, aur khud abaad ho jau. That was one reason distributors were very happy with me. As soon as we announced a film, they used to give us a cheque with no questions asked and say, ‘After the release, we will talk.’

Trimurti bombed at the box office but we still made a profit of Rs 1.65 crore because we got a good price. I called Toluji and asked him about our profit-sharing and he said, Rs 1.65 crore. I wrote to the six distributors, telling them that I felt guilty that we made a profit despite delivering a flop, and shared the profit among them equally. The very next day, I started receiving calls from producers who called me mad. They said, ‘Aapne inko itni hits di hain, ek flop huyi toh kya hua? Kabhi inhone profit share kiya hain.’ But I was convinced of what I did because I didn’t want to betray their faith in me. Mukta Arts was the first company to actually return the distributors’ money. During Pardes, we gave them a 30 per cent discount. After that, Pardes became a superhit.

Another thing I realised that since the industry was not structured and everything depended on actors, it was very insecure. For instance, Sanjay Dutt was working on Trimurti but he was suddenly jailed and we faced a huge loss.

So through a colleague of mine, we organised a seminar and invited insurance companies and discussed why the film industry needed insurance. They said it was not possible since no one maintained any records in this trade. I called a separate meeting and showed them our accounts. They were shocked and said, ‘Corporates bhi itna detailed accounts nahi maintain karte hain.’ So they agreed to give us insurance,

Taal was the first film that was insured. They were nice enough to give us a policy and called it Cine Mukta Policy. Who introduced insurance to the industry? Who has launched the maximum number of newcomers? Who has given distributors their money back? Who introduced big actresses like Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala to the industry? It was us. We fought the star system; we told them we would work on content; we would work on production; we would make sure we maintain the quality of the film; and that we would not stand for tantrums.

I made Saudagar with India’s two biggest stars, Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar, but there was not a single argument or tantrum on my sets. But we were not fortunate enough to work with superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna.

BOI: Has it ever been tough for you (the team) to keep him (Subhashji) in check as he has been delivering one hit after another and therefore might go overboard with his budgets?

Parvez Farooqui (PF): When he makes unreasonable demands, we explain things to him and he agrees.

BOI: You have never allowed him to go over-budget?

PF: Well, if that budget is needed, you have to approve it because we don’t compromise on the quality of the film. But he is open to suggestions.

Rahul Puri (RP): It is an advantage that he is a producer himself. One of the great things about him as a director is that he doesn’t allow wastage. For instance, if the actor has delayed the shoot, he gets the production people to do other stuff that needs to be done and therefore effectively uses that time.

BOI: What is your perception of the production house then and now?

Rajesh Nair (RN): I have grown up watching Subhash Ghai’s films and I had a keen interest in joining Mukta. We have been working together on Kaanchi for more than a year and the learning process has been very good. It really stands out from my previous experiences. You can actually tell the difference between making cinema and making a film by a showman. The understanding of cinema as well as the conveying of cinema to the audience is different. I was working with a corporate house and the experience here is totally new. I have started looking at motion pictures differently and Mukta has made all the difference.

SG: With growth comes expansion, which for any businessman becomes a problem. So when we delivered 11 back-to-back hits, we had a discussion because the industry was changing as was the finance scenario. Every time, the industry changes, the one thing that remains constant is content. I have worked for more than 25 years and I know how difficult it is to make the right kind of a movie. Money will always change hands but money can’t make a good film.

So I decided to open a film school, where I could train young filmmakers to handle all this. If we are going to have 900 channels, we need as many filmmakers to make films. At the suggestion of a friend Vijay Choraria (on the board of directors), we turned our company into a corporate house. Mukta Arts was the first company to become corporate in Bollywood. Money was never uppermost on my mind; I have always tried to change the face of cinema.


BOI: Where do you plan to take the production house?

RP: We are expanding the education business. But there are two main areas. Obviously, with Rajesh Nair coming in, we are building our production slate and working on upcoming films. We have three to four films ready to go on the floors and a slate for the coming years too. In addition, our strength that we have built over the last 10-15 years is distribution and exhibition. Mukta today is still the largest controller of screens in the country, at over 450 screens. This means we programme for those screens. We are bookies for 450 screens.

Our distribution offices in Delhi and Mumbai distribute 40 films a year without paying anything, purely because of our ability to be transparent and the strength to add value to a film and getting the audience to cinemas. In addition, we recently entered into a joint venture with UFO, which will further expand the business to thousands, making us the single-largest supplier of film content in the country.

We also have three cinemas called Mukta Cinemas in Baroda, Ahmedabad and Gulbarga (outside Hyderabad), and have plans to open Jai Hind in Lalbaug, Mumbai. By this time next year, Mukta Cinemas will have 54 more screens. There are only four national players. And I think that this is a good opportunity for us, especially given our history of successful relationship with exhibitors and distributors.

We have a very different model. We want people to think it’s like a local cinema hall, where you know the manager and the watchman.

SG (Cuts in): Almost half the tickets were sold via tele-bookings in our first property in Baroda. I reminded my manager that we had to sell tickets to the public too!

BOI: Toluji, have you been working silently on this?

TB: Yes, I am very much a part of it.

BOI: How different is Mukta Cinema from other multiplexes, given that you are aware of the audience tastes?

TB: Like Rahul said, we are very strong on programming. We are working to get the pricing of tickets right. Also, the location and maintenance of cinemas has to be correct. One has to synchronise all these three factors to maintain profitability of the multiplex business.

RP: There is a gap in the entertainment industry to provide tickets at economical rates. It is increasingly difficult for people to pay the prevalent multiplex ticket prices. We are trying to fill that gap. Our prices may not be as cheap as they are used to in single screens but they will be affordable.

SG: (Cuts in) We have to fight the right battle.

RP: The idea is to offer people value for money. That certainly is one of the differences we are trying to make.

SG (Cuts in): You guys get all the data. Why don’t you compare our ticket prices with the others? You can also check the occupancy of our cinemas compared to others.

BOI: Does the production house help the distribution house or is it the other way round?

RP: The other way round. Iqbal we released in 52 screens in 2002. It was a film with no star cast.

SG: (Cuts in) There was shortage of multiplexes but our film was still in cinemas continuously and it enjoyed a long run.

TB: Iqbal clocked 100 days.

SG: That was due to our relationship with cinema owners.

BOI: Your company also opened an alternative banner called Mukta Searchlight Films. You launched this company before UTV, which started UTV Spotboy. What was the idea behind this and what is this vertical all about?

SG: People see Mukta as Subhash Ghai. Mukta is a corporate company, and Subhash Ghai is a director. He makes movies for Mukta Arts. So whenever there is a film under Mukta Arts, they connect it to Subhash Ghai. Whether it’s a small film like Rahul or Joggers Park, they always think, yeh Subhash Ghai aisi filmein kyun bana raha hai? They assume I am directing these films. Now they have understood that I own Mukta Arts and we also produce other people’s film.

In 2003-2004, it was difficult to make them understand this so we created another banner called Mukta Searchlight, which makes low-budget, high-concept films.

BOI: When corporate houses enter the industry, they usually acquire films. You have never acquired a film.

SG: The reason they do that initially is that they don’t have their own set-up to make films. Even now, which corporate apart from UTV really makes its own films? They are all co-productions and acquisitions. Even UTV started making their own films very recently. Earlier, they too were outsourcing.

BOI: But isn’t it healthy to tie-up with other studios to make films?

RN: There is nothing wrong with that. Mukta is also open to working with a company like UTV or Viacom18, for instance.

SG: Yes, why not? It’s a business. We are open to co-productions, co-business and acquiring projects.

RP: Times have changed, and these big studios have the financial backing to make films as well as a huge marketing budget. We deal with most of them on a weekly basis for programming and distribution. We have a long-standing relationship with them so I don’t think any of them will look at Mukta and say, this is not possible.

To return to what Subhashji said earlier, we want to make movies with clarity and not because it’s a compulsion.

SG: There are two things, either you’re making a project or making a film. In these times, 90 per cent are projects and only 10 per cent are films. This is not a healthy or a happy situation. Studios tend to look at films as projects, not at the concept per se. The priorities are reversed.

BOI: Toluji, everyone says times have changed and so as the audience. You have been part of distribution for so long. Has the audience grown up or have we?

TB: I don’t think the audience has changed very much. It’s just that there was no platform for them to evolve. Multiplexes have changed all that. The audience likes to watch different kinds of cinema and we can now make different kinds of cinema on different budgets. And because there are so many multiplexes, you can also make money.

BOI: Is that the reason the home video market has diminished so much?

TB: Yes, obviously.

SG: I don’t think content has changed very much. Pehle Shyam Benegal aur Govind Nihalani thhe aaj Dibakar (Banerjee) hai.

TB: Basu Chatterjee was also the same back then.

SG: Films like that used to work back then also. Also their collections used to be around 10 per cent and abhi bhi wahi hota hai.

TB: Yes, nothing has changed very much. Big films collect Rs 100 crore; small films Rs 20 crore.

SG: What has changed is the relationship with content and the weekenders that have divided cinema. There is a section of the audience who simply has to watch one film during the weekend. They don’t really watch the story but what the actress is wearing, whether the songs are good, and they look at the sets. They don’t really relate to the film. That’s why big star cast films are doing better business with every passing day.

BOI: Everyone is busy on their mobile phones.

SG: In any cinema hall today, you will see 20-25 lights on; everyone is on their mobiles. In our days, if someone so much as coughed, we would wonder what was wrong with the scene. Filmmaking has lost its edge. I call Bhaag Milkha Bhaag an authentic motion picture, not because it was a biopic but because of the way it was made, the way emotion was captured, the scale on which it was made, the way the ambience was captured. Alas, most filmmakers now think, ek weekend hi toh chalni hai. There is this perception about one weekend. But my perception is that even ten years later, my kids should watch my films.

BOI: What do films made under the Mukta Arts banner stand for?

SG: Content. We always focus on content; never on the ‘weekend’. We try to make films that will be remembered for ten years. It should have content as well as a soul.

BOI: Rahul and Toluji spoke about distribution and exhibition. Can you take us through the line-up of Mukta Arts?

SG: We will always try to make films on good subjects but the industry trend is star-focused, and the other is marketing. These two aspects have eclipsed content. The first thing they ask is to name the stars and whether the film has an item number in it or not. If you make them listen to the item song, they will not bother to listen to the other songs in the film.

RP: We have never been a company that says we have to make a particular film; we have always said if we get a good film, we will make it.

SG: We have never succumbed to that pressure.

RP: I don’t think we are ever going to be a company that sets a target number of films to make every year. We are now in a position where we have a very healthy bank of scripts, and with Rajesh coming on board, it’s helped a lot. For these scripts, we have to find like-minded people, whether actors, directors, writers or studios who need to come on board and give those scripts shape. These things take time and we are in no great hurry. It takes time to make the perfect biryani, doesn’t it?

BOI: Parvez-ji hasn’t said a word.

RP: He is man of few words.

TB: He looks only at cheques.

SG: He executes things. Bahut kum bolte hain.

Tribute To V.K. Murthy & V.Babasaheb|Waheeda Rehman and Subhash Ghai

Waheeda Rehman, Shyam Benegal, Mr.Govind Nihlani, J.OmPrakash and Mohan Kumar along with Western India Cinematographers Association (WICA) and industry stalwarts came together at Whistling Woods International (WWI) to pay tribute to Bollywood’s veteran cinematographers V.K. Murthy & V.Babasaheb.


Credit: Bollywood Uncut

Whistling Woods International Presents ‘Celebrate Cinema’!

Its that time of the year again! Whistling WoodsInternational announces CELEBRATE CINEMA – its annual open-for-all free Cinema Festival. Over 15 Workshops, 4 Panel Discussions, several 1-on-1 sessions with stalwarts and film screenings. All this, in addition to the entire Whistling Woods campus being converted into one big exhibition of all things Cinema.
Dates: May 17 & 18, 2014.
Location: Whistling Woods International, Filmcity Complex, Goregaon East.
Check out for details and to register for the event. Registration is complimentary for the 2-day event.



FAQ with Subhash Ghai!



Ans. There’s hunger in me. We live in such a huge universe. There are billions of subjects and ideas. I’m a curious guy and see a story in everything. Stories keep me alive. Whether I succeed or fail depends on how I tell that story. Box-office failure is different from cinematic failure. I’ve never failed in the academics of filmmaking. Kisna and Yuvraaj didn’t work but they adhered to higher standards than some blockbusters.


Ans. I look for two things in a girl. She should be innocent and a seductress in equal measure. I call it ‘the innocence of the seductress’. Innocent itni ho ki usay main apni bahu bona loon our seductress aisi ho ki apni mashooqa bona loon. If these two qualities are not present, then she’s just a cabaret dancer or an item girl. Most heroines today are item girls. Innocence is lost. My heroines had both these qualities… from Tina Munim to Mahima Choudhary.


Ans. Cinema is a reflection of society. When I came in the ’70s, I was influenced by Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy. There was philosophy and poetry in their films. Then I was competing with the cinema led by Prakash Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan. I made Karz and stood out with the musical. Then came the generation of Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and Sooraj Barjatiya. They’d tell me that I was a textbook for them. That was a huge compliment. Anurag Kashyap symbolises the new generation. A generation, which thinks freely and speaks boldly. I love it. I’m envious because we couldn’t do all these things earlier. Earlier cinema had theatrical direction arid drawing room language. Karan’s films brought out bedroom language and now the new generation of directors has brought out the bathroom language. Every actor is on the pot. The bathroom is a reality. It’s the naked truth. Hamara generation was about lihaaz! I loved Udaan, Dev D and Gangs of Wasseypur. But I can’t make those films. I belong to a retro world. But I can weave the modern language in my storytelling. None of my heroines have abused but in Kaanchi, Mishti’s opening dialogue is bh”&°/.@#d.


Ans. All kind of movies have their audience and hence they do business. Every director has his own painting which people easily accept. Movies are like dream and stories told emotionally are liked by all.


Ans. I’d be lying if I say there isn’t. There’s a huge economic pressure. You can become a hero or a zero in one Friday. But I’m used to this pressure for the last 36 years now. I laugh it out. Life’s about taking risks. You’ve got to pick up the bat to score a century.


Ans. I have a huge passion for cinema. I opened a film school (Whistling Wood International). I’m interacting with young students all the time. I’m not a master. I’m a student of cinema. A student hero. I learned from Queen, Chennai Express, Dhoom 3 and Udaan. All four films are my teachers. 


Ans. I’m an enlightened man today. I’ve been a follower of Osho Rajneesh. I’m aware that people’s judgment fluctuates with success and failure. Even when they were calling me the ‘Showman’, I wasn’t affected. Have my posters ever read ‘Showman Subhash Ghai’? Wealth doesn’t attract me. I live in the same three-bedroom flat, which I bought during Hero. My office cabin is bigger than my bedroom. What makes me proud are my films, my songs. Longevity is what I seek. I’m a hero. And a hero can’t exist without crisis.


Ans. Showman is a title that has been gifted to me by media and I happily accept it. However with the kind of versatility in youngsters tally, I see a showman in all in everyone today. I like being called a storyteller than a showman.


Ans. Karz and Taal have remained my favourites for keep. Both these movies are like musical journeys.


Ans. It has got Trimurti. Though the movie had excellent music, the story was not up to the mark.


Ans. I think it is Tigmanshu Dhulia


Ans. I’m the closest to Dilip Kumar. I’ve worked with him in three films (Vidhata, Saudagar and Karma). I learnt so much from him that it changed my personality, my views towards life and work. It’s unfortunate that I can’t talk to Dilip saab often because of his illness. Other than him, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff are two people I’m close to. We meet over drinks. Sometimes, I meet Salman (Khan) and Shah Rukh (Khan) too. 


Ans. A director’s life is fraught with risks. Success and failure are a constant. My wife (Rehana) and daughters (Meghna and Muskaan) are my biggest assets. My wife didn’t take my success seriously. So my failure didn’t affect her either. One thing we didn’t adopt was the showmanship in your lives. We believe in simple living. Rehana doesn’t think of collections and money. She’s popular amongst the industry and is loved by all. I’m lucky to have her. My elder daughter Meghna is a strong girl too. She was never interested in movies. She’s done her MBA. I’m proud of her.


Ans. I invested whatever I earned into Whistling Woods. The idea behind the school was to make youngsters understand international sensibility in movie making and produce movie of international standard.

Subhash Ghai’s 11 hits in a row!

Subhash Ghai — better known as the Showman or the Dream Merchant — gave 11 back-to-back blockbusters after a starting debacle in Gautam Govinda (1979) because sach aur saahas ho jiske mann me, anth me jeet ussi ki hoti hai! Like Alfred Hitchcock he is known to give brief cameos in his directorial ventures. So, here’s the list of grand films made by a grandiose director:


1. Karz


The coming together of Subhash Ghai, Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim & musical duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal for this reincarnation saga gave audience the biggest musical blockbuster of that time. Evidently, Shah Rukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om was influenced with the movie and Farah Khan even made Subhash Ghai appear for a friendly cameo.


2. Krodhi


Remember ‘Chal Chameli Bagh Me’ song…? The movie had it all to become a blockbuster back then!


3. Vidhaata


Vidhaata was the highest grossing Bollywood movie of the year 1982 collecting Rs. 16 crores at that time with ‘Saat saheliyan khadi khadi fariyad sunayen’ song as the highpoint of the film. The film was later remade in Kannada as Pithamaha starring Ravichandran, Rajesh, Udayakumar and Vijayalakshmi Singh.


4. Hero


The musical blockbuster of a criminal, Hero, gained an overwhelming response from the public. Both Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri became huge stars after the release of the film. The music by the musical duo Laxmikant Pyarelal and the lyrics penned by Anand Bakshi were so meaningful & mellifluous. Nindiya Se Jaagi Bahaar…Aisa Mausam Dekha Pehli Baar…Melodious to the core! Pakistan’s top singer Reshma sang Lambi Judaai with just 11 instruments.


5. Meri Jung


The flick was Javed Jaffrey’s debut in B-town. Anil Kapoor’s showed acting prowess and the message in the song ‘Zindagi Har Kadam Ek Nayi Jung Hai, Jeet Jayenge Hum, Jeet Jayenge Hum Tu Agar Sang Hai’ connected well with the audience.


6. Karma


Mera Karma Tu, Mera Dharma Tu! The film marked the first time pairing of Dilip Kumar with veteran actress Nutan. It was the most patriotic movie to have churned out of Subhash Ghai’s camp at that time. Blockbuster!


7. Ram Lakhan


The film was a super hit in India solely because of Anil Kapoor’s ‘My Name Is Lakhan’ song. The film also marked a collaboration of some of the most famous villains of the late 80′s-early 90′s: Amrish Puri, Gulshan Grover, Paresh Rawal and Anupam Kher.


8. Saudagar


The film was a “Silver Jubilee” success all over India and got director Subhash Ghai his only Filmfare Best Director Award. It featured the debut performances of Vivek Mushran and Manisha Koirala. Ye Ilu Ilu Kya Hai…Ye Ilu Ilu…Soothing!


9. Khalnayak


The film was well received by critics as well as the audience and became an instant blockbuster, breaking many previous records. The dance and song “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai” became an instant classic for its choreography and notoriety for its suggestive lyrics. Sanjay Dutt’s ventured into stardom with his ‘Nayak Nahi Khalnayak Hu Mai’ song and act.


10. Pardes


Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain, Nahin Hona Tha, Yeh Dil Deewana, I Love My India and Jahan Piya Wahan Main…The film was a commercial, critical and musical hit. Mahima Chaudhary won the Best Newcomer Award for her performance. Subhash Ghai’s version of true-blue desi-love hit the bull’s eye among the audience. The film was later remade in Telugu as Pelli Kanuka (1998).


11. Taal

Taal was the first Hindi musical drama romance film to reach the top 20 on Varietys box office list as it was quite successful overseas and was an official selection by Roger Ebert for his 2005 Overlooked Film Festival. The movie marked the beginning of a famed collaboration between A. R. Rahman and Subhash Ghai. It was later also dubbed in Tamil as Thaalam. Subhash Ghai’s last magnum opus was unanimously loved by all.