INTERVIEW Pritish Nandy tells NIKHIL VARMA apart from being jury member on a television show, he is all set with the animation avatar of Sholay

He cannot be stereotyped into any particular mould, much like the films he produces. Pritish Nandy -- poet, journalist, politician, television personality and film producer.

His first book of poems, “Of Gods and Olives” was published in 1967. Many more well-received volumes followed in the 1960s and the 70s. He was also nominated Poet Laureate by the World Academy of Arts and Culture. He has also served as publishing director of The Times of India from 1982 to 1991, and editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India from 1983 to 1991.

A member of the Rajya Sabha, Nandy has produced delightfully offbeat films from the frothy tribute to R. D. Burman, “Jhankaar Beats” to the exquisitely retro “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi”. Then there was the musical, “Sur: The Melody of Life”, the comic caper “Mumbai Matinee” the paean to Anglo Indians “Bow Barracks Forever”, and the slightly-bizarre erotic thriller “Shabd” among others.

And now Nandy has a new role as the jury member of the latest season of MTV’s “On The Job”. Ask him whether such shows help youngsters making the right career choices and he says: “These kind of programmes show youngsters the positive and negative facets that come with all jobs. It also gives them an opportunity to work for the best persons in a particular industry.I feel that learning on the job is very important for youngsters. You tend to learn many aspects of the job that you may not be taught in any school. I think it provides a great deal of exposure. That is the reason I am participating in this venture.”

On the film front, Nandy has his hands full. Currently working on completing a slew of projects including “Ugly aur Pagli”, “Raat Gayi Baat Gayi” and “Ek to Chance”. He adds that most of these films will be released “over the next three months.”

Animation is huge nowadays thanks to the success of movies like “Hanuman” and “Ghatotkach” and Nandy is also jumping on the bandwagon with animation versions of blockbusters like “Sholay” and “Howrah Bridge”. Did someone say Ram Gopal Varma? “I have already bought the rights of most of the films I plan to remake.”

Ask him of the many hats he wears with felicity, the one he prefers and he thoughtfully remarks: “It is a difficult question. I have enjoyed everything right from writing poems to producing films and even being a politician. I have enjoyed writing a great deal and also my years as a journalist, since it involved a lot of writing as well.”

The one constant in all Nandy’s films is that they are very different from the run-of-the-mill mainstream cinema. Is that by design or accident? “Of course, all my films are different from the regular Bollywood flicks. I do produce commercial films, but try to fine tune them a bit.” On the big star versus good actor debate, Nandy candidly comments: “I will definitely prefer actors to big stars. I guess that explains why I have produced nearly four movies with Rahul Bose and none so far with Shah Rukh Khan.”

The entertainment business runs in the family as Nandy comments: “My daughter has also started to work on some of the projects taken by my production company. She is involved in pre- production in a number of projects. She will participate in full-time production soon.”

Clued in on the current affairs as always, Nandy says: “Inflation will hit the poor people badly. The price of grain has been increasing for a long time now. Yet the government has not taken enough efforts to put a break on the spiralling inflation rates. It is a similar story as far as the petrol price hikes are concerned. The government should have just reduced excise duties, sales tax and other assorted taxes. Why should the government impose tax on necessities like diesel and LPG?”