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    Sep 2011


    Default Itís important to be stubborn in industry: Raj Kumar Gupta

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    Raj Kumar Gupta, 35, does not like to magnify his struggle even though he has had his share of it. He claims to have not fallen in love yet, but hopes to get married someday when he meets the right person.

    He is driven, strong-headed, introverted, loyal and emotional and would prefer to speak only if he has a point of view. Filmmaking just happened to him, but he is enjoying making different kinds of films and loves surprising people. He speaks to TOI ahead of his recently released quirky comedy Ghanchakkar, about the intelligent Emraan Hashmi, the humble Vidya Balan and his own stubborness. Excerpts:

    How did you get into films?
    We are kayasth baniyas from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. My father retired as the branch manager of State Bank of India and my family continues to live in Hazaribagh. After finishing my tenth in Hazaribagh, I went to Bokaro to finish my twelfth, after which I studied Commerce at Ramjas College in Delhi. There, as I was finishing my graduation I developed an interest in creative writing and started writing. I initially wrote ads, but was bad at it. I did not give up and came to Mumbai when I was 23. I got admitted to XIC (Xavier Institute of Communications) and then interned for a few ad films and assisted on an episodic TV series for a year that taught me the craft of filmmaking. I then assisted Anurag Kashyap on Black Friday and No Smoking. But Black Friday got stalled and I did not have money to pay my rent for my PG, which I shared with three other people. So, to sustain myself, I also wrote for TV with one of my friends and made 5000 per episode. I then directed my first film Aamir in 2007.

    How was your experience working with Anurag Kashyap?
    I had a great time working with him. He is good and very encouraging of new talent. What I love about him is not his films, but his spirit of filmmaking. He taught me that you don't need only money to make films, you also need passion.

    Are your parents happy with you being a director?
    Initially, when I came to Mumbai, my parents did not understand Bollywood. Their impression of Bollywood was that it was a bad world with casting couch among others. When I became assistant director, they thought cars would be coming to receive me, not knowing that actually it's a thankless job. It was only when my father came for the premiere of Aamir and he saw the media that he felt his son must have done something.

    How are you as a son?
    I love my parents, but am really stubborn. I left home when I was 15 and as you grow, you start seeing the world and the adjustment keeps happening and you start being less demanding of your parents. But I was always driven. If my first script did not happen, I would have written the next one and the next and the next. I knew that this is what I had chosen to do and did not want to go back and tell my parents that it did not work out. As a director, this is the most exciting time to make films as the audience is receptive to all kinds of cinema. All my three films have been different as I don't want to be identified with any genre. I am getting to make films that I want and yes, I get paid well.

    Is it a negative to be stubborn?
    In our industry, it's important to be stubborn. That's where your conviction comes from. You are always working against things, be it time or money. Your conviction is always at stake, so you need to be convinced with what you are doing. My stubbornness comes from my conviction. I want to be known by the films I make. Lots of people talk more and their films talk less.

    You are not seen at parties?
    I find parties boring. You see through people and their motives. It's the same conversation. That's deja vu. Instead, I would rather spend time with my friends or watch movies or TV. I go for my press conferences and get pushed around as no one recognises me and invariably, my marketing team protects me from getting pushed around. But, I prefer it that way. It's not an ego trip for me that people should know me. I am also happy that I don't belong to any camp and just like everyone else, while I too want to work with Amitabh Bachchan and Gulzar, most importantly I want to work with people who want to work with me.

    How was your experience working with Emraan Hashmi?
    My impression about him was that he is a mystery. He does not advertise himself and you don't know what he is thinking. His character in Ghanchakkar is close to what I thought he would be in his real life. And he was. He is an extremely intelligent actor and has a great script sense. He is professional and unassuming. He not only comes on time but goes on time due to which you respect his time. It's embarrassing to ask him for even 10 more minutes as you know he has given you the complete time he committed to and expects you to utilise that time effectively.

    You worked with Vidya Balan earlier in 'No One Killed Jessica' and now again in 'Ghanchakkar'. How is she to work with?
    I have known Vidya for the past four years and have never met a person who is more humble than her. She is respectful of each and every member of the unit and is a thorough professional. She is honing her craft day by day and is getting better and better at it. She is the most fearless actress a director can work with and is concerned with just the script and not the director's track record. That gives me strength as a young director.

    Looking at you, it is difficult to imagine you having made a quirky comic thriller...
    That's what I like about myself. I always surprise people and come up with something they don't expect. It gives you a different high.



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