is. Michelle is very dear to me. She’s very gritty, very angry. She’s very teekhi and has not even an iota of self-sympathy. Ethan, because he’s just so magical. His eyes still twinkle in spite of living in a lifeless body.
The analysis of your cinema is not complete without an analysis of its economics. Do you feel you have to always keep justifying your budget?
How can I value my idea with budget? When you are creating something, you cannot be burdened by how much a film will make, or will it run for 100 days or not. An idea is pure. I’ve been blessed to make films completely my way. During Khamoshi, Salman told me if this film doesn’t work, nobody will even give you money to make a documentary on cows, yet he stood by me and let me make the film I wanted to make. Since then, budget has never been an issue. All my films have made money. Maybe Guzaarish was a little bit more expensive, but that’s okay.
But how comfortable are you working with corporates, being answerable to them, looking at balance sheets?
I just told you, I’m blessed. Nobody has ever doubted my ability or intention. If your conviction reaches the corporates, they don’t bother you so much.
Is filmmaking still about getting the curtain that you want and the candles to burn in the way you want them to just to get that perfect frame?
Beauty is not just about frames. Beauty is in the paintings, literature, architecture — all these come together to make a beautiful film. Guzaarish is a beautiful film. It has an uncomfortable thought, but it’s beautiful. Pakeezah evokes so many memories. It evokes a fragrance in you, the sound of a distant whistling train, of a beautiful Meena Kumari sleeping in a train compartment with only her feet visible. A good work lingers on. It’s like a Madan Mohan song. It’s a moment of magic and that’s what I aspire for.
So what do you give more value to — a beautiful film or a hit film?
Always a beautiful film. No question about it. A film has to have a resonance and bring a smile on your face when you think about it.
In your entire filmography, which has been the most agonising scene you’ve ever had to shoot?
It would probably be the scene in Khamoshi when Nana Patekar throws Manisha