|ĎThe film is problematic for
people who are now in power,
who created the problemsí
ó Ajay Devgan
Any special reason why you said yes to the offer
to act in Zakhm?
I was very charged about the film after
the way Bhatt Saheb narrated the whole storyline to me. Because, as far
as I know Mahesh Bhatt, if he asks me to do a film, he is interested in
doing that film. And he was very interested in this film. It was his last
film. He had lived the film.
Itís amazing the way I said yes to the film. I was going
through this phase when I was not signing too many films then ó actually,
Iím not signing too many now either. I was in Madras shooting for some
film. I was having a shower when he called me. I picked up the phone. It
was Bhatt Saheb. He said, ďI want you to do this film.Ē ďWhat film?Ē I
asked. I was in the shower and within five minutes he narrated the storyline
to me. And I said, ďYes, Iím doing it. So something worked and Iím happy
that I gave what I did to the film. Have you seen the film?
Yes, itís a beautiful filmÖ
It has a message. Itís showing the truth, about what happened
to people. People who have seen the film have been moved by it. They have
said, ďIt depicts the reality of what we actually lived through in December
1992, January 1993.Ē
I donít find the film a ďsensitiveĒ film in the fashion
that is being made out by the authorities to restrict its being shown.
Itís sensitive in that it depicts a human trauma through the lived experience
of one individual. Itís not problematic for you and me. Itís problematic
for people who are now in power, who created the problems in Bombay.
Above all, itís an honest film. And honesty hurts. Nobody
can deny it because itís born of a personal experience. Nobody can
deny it. How can you deny it? Itís something that actually happened. It
happened to you and me. Everybody lived through it. Everybody knows it
depicts the truth. And thatís what scares people in power today.
You seem to have given lots more of yourself to this
role than any other role in any other film?
The script, the scenes, everything was working so well.
The director was so clear about what he wanted. He had gone through it,
lived through it himself. So I did feel I had to work very hard on the
role and ďactĒ in it. You could just feel the scene and just be. It was
there. That was all I had to do. And itís worked. So well. Bhatt Saheb
has achieved something that is very difficult: every actor from a smaller
role to a bigger role performing so well. That is what has happened in
this film. That credit goes to the director. He is right there and he is
clear when he communicates what he is feeling to be there in the film,
you can get it.
Now that the censor board has ordered cuts and youíve
reĖshot the scenes do you expect any further problems with its release?
Yes, weíve reĖshot one scene. But if they want, they
can create problems with the film because it indirectly reveals a lot of
thingsÖsays many things. And they are in power so they can create problems.
But I myself do not see the problem because what it shows is the truth
of what happened in Bombay and it should come out. But if they want to
create a problem they can. See what they did to Fire.
What are your reactions to the violent disruption of
shows of the film Fire?
It was terrible. Let the people have the right to see
whatever film they want to see. I have not seen the film but I am completely
familiar with the concept. And thereís nothing wrong with it. We do still
have the right to see what we want to see. Only a handful of people, a
few hundred decide to take law into their own hands. I just donít understand
their actions. Why do they do it? What are their reasons? To gain attention?
Itís wrong. Each time they get away with it, they get emboldened. They
do not represent public opinion, that is clear.
It was running to full houses which means people wanted
to see it.
Yes, because that film, like Zakhm, also represents what
happens, the choices that people exercise. Weíre still living in a democratic
society though it doesnít seem like it sometimes. And these people are
allowed to get away with it. Itís stupid. Itís disgusting.
Do you think this can happen to Zakhm?
Well, anything can happen. They do what they did today
and get away with it, who knows? They donít even need reasons. We
should expect anything now. You give me a logical reason for what they
did yesterday. There is none.
You are also sole distributor of Zakhm and therefore
have a big stake in the filmís release. What has the delay in its release
Well everything gets upset, the entire schedule. You
lose out on a lot of things: Youíve started your publicity, youíve booked
your chain of theatres, youíve done everything. And then suddenly because
of a few people, youíve lost everything. So whoís going to bear all the
expense and costs? The freedom of expression that we talk about, where
is that freedom really?
Any regrets for the commercial stakes?
No, none, not at all because itís a beautiful film, itís
fighting for a cause, itís a film that touches you. So if you lose something,
itís fine. Iíve no regrets for having done this film because it has run
into this controversy. If something happens tomorrow, Iím prepared for
it. The way things are going, anything can happen now. If you can stop
Fire, you can do anything. The best thing about Zakhm was that there was
no insecurity about it, no commercial concern has dictated anyoneís actions,
particularly the directorís, say for example, to put a song in, give some
relief here or there.
Shabana Azmi has also been attacked for her role in FireÖ
If sheís done a role, fine actress that she is, sheís
standing up for an emotion, fulfilling her job as an actress. People have
to accept that all kind of relations exist. So even thatís an important
cause. She has done what is right. And nobody has the right to stop it.
She represents women and their right to make choices and she is doing her
job right. This is no way to behave. There is no democracy left. Itís very
The star who plays your childhood role was very
He is superb. I was taken aback. He was very good. Thatís
why I give credit to the director. Everybody is so into their characters.
Thatís why itís working. Mahesh Bhatt has made a brilliant film, which
is very true. Itís not just any other film. I want people to see the film
not because Iím starring in it, or because Iím distributing it and thereís
money involved. Zakhm depicts what has happened and thatís what they are
preventing people from seeing ó the truth. Thatís why I donít want to speak
more about the film. I want people to see it. I donít think I can justify
the film by speaking about it.
What is your message to your fans about Zakhm?
Itís a necessary film and what the authorities ó the
people in power the censor board, the home ministry, whatever ó whatever
they are trying to do, frustrates me. They have no right to do that. What
explanation do they have? I would like to know. Thatís why I would really
want the film to get released soon so people can, in future too, make films
like this. Thatís more important. .