An FTII-Pune product, Rajat has three National Awards - a 26-minute non-feature documentary 'Tarana', a short film 'Hypnothesis' and 'Raghu Romeo' in Best Feature Film in Hindi section, to his credit. After directing offbeat films like 'Raghu Romeo', 'Mixed Doubles', 'Mithya' and the recently released 'Fatso', this talented actor-director is busy with his next directorial venture 'Aakhon Dekhi'. Besides, he is busy staging an 80-minute monologue Nothing like Lear which he has written and directed, in various parts of the country.
Nothing like Lear
Well I had done Hamlet three years back and it was time to do another play...so Lear it was. Also about a year and a half back I had directed a 20 minute piece based on Lear. That worked quite well, so we carried the same idea forward - to interpret Lear with just one actor. The experience has been great so far. We are still growing with the play; getting better with each show. We have done over 30 shows in the last 7 to 8 months and the response has been terrific.
My World of Theatre
It’s very funny...I was always a film person. By the time I was 15, I was sure I wanted to be a filmmaker. An avid film buff, I had seen all kinds of film. Theatre was nowhere in the horizon till I was 20. I had no interest in it...I hadn’t even watched many plays. Quite by chance I discovered a theatre group in Alliance Francaise, Delhi, where I had joined up for French classes. And I was hooked for life. After two years of theatre do Poche, as the group was called, we made another group called Chingari. Chingari’s first play was Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq. Next year, when I was 24, I directed my first play called Firebugs, written by Swiss playwright Max Frisch. One of the actors in that play, believe it or not, was Atul Kumar. And now he performs Nothing like Lear in Hyderabad. It’s been a long journey we have been together.
Naseeruddin Shah had seen me on stage (I think in Waiting for Godot) and suggested my name to Mira Nair for Monsoon Wedding. Around the same time, I think Farhan had seen me in an ad on TV and called me to audition for Dil Chahta Hai. Both films happened at the same time.
I would not know... I mean beyond the obvious that everyone knows. I am just grateful that I am able to make the films that I want to make, however hard it may be, but at least every couple of years I am able to make a film. In an alternate universe I would have died at the age of 70 having made one unreleased film, I am glad that is not the case in the present universe. Of course things could be a lot better, but I am not the one to complain about how bad things are.
Well it’s like a cycle. I think the change in Bollywood came over around 2004-2005. A few years after that were very good for independent cinema. Things changed for the worse in 2009. Mainstream cinema made a huge comeback almost wiping out all the advantage that independent cinema had gained. The phase of independent filmmakers is fading now. The kind of films that we make and the kind they want us to make are very different. This year, we may have made a little comeback, but it is too little. Hopefully 2013 will change it all!
Intelligent Films or Box-office hits
Intelligent cinema any day. Whether a film does well or not doesn’t matter. What matters to me is if it’s a good film. I make movies for the joy of making films; of sharing a vision so it doesn’t matter how many people watch it. It is a lot like a person who sings for the joy of singing; and when that vision helps me connect with people, it’s a great feeling.
Well there is first time filmmaker Sharat Katariya’s 10 ML Love that would come out in December. It is a comedy based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The film stars Purab Kohli, Neil Bhoopalam, Koel Puri and Tisca Copra who plays my wife. Next is Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children where I portray the character of Aadam Aziz. I have finished shooting my new directorial venture Ankhon Dekhi which will come out sometime in the second half of 2013. I am very excited about this film as it is the first time that I have shot a film outside Mumbai. Delhi is where I grew up in a very middle class family. This is exactly where we shot it, in 'Chandni Chowk'.