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    Default I did not let even Shahrukh Khan change any line of Paheli- Amol Palekar

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    AMOL PALEKAR tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that even though he is getting a lot of offers to act in films now; he has been steadfastly turning them down because he does not want to be slotted just as the father of Salman Khan.

    What is your latest film Samantar all about?

    My latest film Samantar is all about tracing lost parallel lives today. With Samantar, I have tried to find out something new by way of looking at relationship and life. You can see similarities at many levels in this film. The protagonists in Samantar are oblivious to the fact that they have traveled similarly, though they had different streams.

    What made you decide to act in your film, besides directing it, considering that your wife Sandhya had initially thought of Girish Karnad to play the role that you have essayed in it?

    After a long time, I really felt the urge to play the character, when I read Sandhya’s script and felt gung ho about playing the main character who I felt had several layers and hence could effectively display a wide range of emotions. I play the role of Kishore Vaze, who has a very small beginning from a very small village and goes on to become a very successful industrialist. Unfortunately, Kishore happens to be a very lonely person. I thought that since I felt that his thought need to be conveyed strongly to the audience, there was no other alternative but to take up the challenge of enacting the character myself. I did not have to bother about my performance and rely entirely on Sandhya’s judgment when I was facing the camera, since she is also the co-director of my film.

    How did you extract work from Sharmila Tagore in-spite of her not knowing Marathi?

    Sharmila plays the role of a sculptor in Samantar. Since the character that Sharmila has played in Samantar needed intensity and authenticity, we taped her dialogues and sent it to her in advance to enable her to prepare for the scene. Only Sharmila could have fitted the bill by essaying the character of Shama Sani with the poise, dignity and the grace, which the character demanded.

    Is it true that you do not let any actor of yours to improvise or change their lines?

    Since I have the background of theatre, I insist on the specific lines. When Vijay Tendulkar writes a particular word, it has a particular rhythm, which will be entirely different from what a Badal Sarkar or a Dalvi writes. And hence I feel that as an actor, it is your job to stick to your line. I remember telling a theatre stalwart like Vijaya Mehta that even if it was Okayed by writer Sandhya, it was not okay with me, when she kept on mouthing klesh instead of atma klesh.

    Were you lenient with Shah Rukh Khan when you directed him in Paheli because he was also the producer of the film?

    Even when I directed Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerjee in Paheli, they did not change even one word, because we had a weeklong rehearsals, particularly with Rani.

    Were you confident on facing the camera as an actor after 24 years?

    I should confess that fear was at the back of my mind constantly, whether I would be able to retain the intensity as an actor and whether I’d be able to give the shot in one take or take seven takes, because frankly I presumed that my talent may have rusted, since I had not faced the camera as an actor for several years, but I luckily realized that I have retained the command over my craft even today. Believe it or not, I had turned down several offers including from some big banners, only because they were not ready to tell me what character that they wanted me to play. I do not take up an assignment if I am just told that I have to play Salman Khan’s father.

    How do you re-invent yourself and push the envelope further as a filmmaker?

    After making a film, I try to assess it objectively to find out what I have learnt from it and also, how the audience response to it after it is released. As a maker, I do not want to repeat myself but try out something, which I had not earlier, especially because I do not want to make a labeled product.

    What is the major difference between the Amol of Ankahee and the Amol of Samantar as a director?

    The major difference between me as an actor in Ankahee then, and Samantar now, is that Ankahee was my second film and after Ankahee I did not act in dozens films. Also, the fact remains that Samantar is a totally different look at the man–woman relationship. It is also a script, has intense emotions, with a very serious content and a lyrical quality, which Sandhya and I have tried to capture in so many different ways, including music, cinematography and art direction, in a different way.

    In what way have you kept pace with the changing cinema today, as a maker?

    There is absolutely no physicality in filmmaking today because everything happens in virtual reality. Today’s Indian cinema is technically good even if it is bad and hence, I have got to compete with that. I do not make excuses. I do not have any apology on my hands and stand on equal footing with anybody and everybody at any film festival. However, I can definitely claim that I have become more techno-savvy, because today filmmaking is technically so much advanced.

    In what way has Sandhya changed your approach to filmmaking after she came in your life?

    All that I can say is that if you look at the phase of my output, I used to make one film in five years earlier. After Sandhya came in my life, I have managed to make at least one film every year, which by itself, is quiet overwhelming for me as a filmmaker. Without her support or contribution, it would just not have been possible at all for me. Apart from taking the complete burden of writing, what I like about Sandhya is that she has the quality of multi tasking with ten different tracks working in her mind simultaneously, though I prefer to focus on just one thing at a time when I am working. Sandhya has this urge to be a perfectionist so much so, that she is not easily satisfied with something which is just good, because she wants it to be next to the best, if not the best.

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