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`It's a humbling process'

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CHAT OVER CHAI Arun Dutt (in blue) and Joy Roy have a formidable legacy in their fathers
CHAT OVER CHAI Arun Dutt (in blue) and Joy Roy have a formidable legacy in their fathers

Guru Dutt's son Arun Dutt and Bimal Roy's son Joy Bimal Roy have a lot of expectations to live up to. Right now they are preserving and re-releasing classics their legendary fathers made

They are sons of two of the biggest pioneers of Indian cinema, yet they are not actively involved in filmmaking or acting. Instead, Guru Dutt's son Arun Dutt, and Bimal Roy's son Joy Bimal Roy want to focus on re-mastering the negatives of classics their fathers made and re-release these films. They tell RENUKA VIJAY KUMARhow they plan to keep their fathers' work alive for generations to come.Arun Dutt: I've met Joy a couple of times, but we've not sat down for a chat. This is the first time we are sitting down and talking to each other. Our families did have interactions during their times, but then, as time goes... we never really interacted. Joy Bimal Roy: No... we didn't.Arun: What we have been talking about is what we should do about our old films. Both of us are very concerned about our negatives deteriorating. It's imperative that we rejuvenate our negatives and get them back to more or less the same condition they were in when the films were released. We are planning to `colourise' (digitally re-mastering black and white film into colour) all the films so that they are more viable for audiences today. And of course, re-release the negatives with pure sound. Joy: What I did find was a 40-year-old negative of the film he (Bimal Roy) shot of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and I put that together in the form of a documentary. It didn't need any restoring, it was in pristine condition. It's been a dream to see at least one film of my father's in colour because I think it will workMadhumati. It's timeless. Maybe with a little bit of editing. (Turning to Arun) I believe, in Mughal-E-Azam, two songs were removed. Arun: If a song is removed, I could still understand, but chopping the film, no.Joy: No, I'm talking about reducing the number of songs in a film to reduce its length.Arun: Today's audience has a limited attention span, so we have to try and get it (the duration of a film) down because these are classics which have to be remembered for generations to come. Bimal Da's films... are such classics. When I was a teenager, I would prefer to see his films. I used to cycle 15 km to see Sujatha, Bandhini. I was a total fan.Joy: Yes, they are immortal. They belong to a different time. You know, I feel his (Arun's) father was a very passionate man. My father was very underplayed, low-key. His father was a huge contrast to mine. They belonged to a time when there was graciousness and dignity. Women were treated as women and not as sex objects or item girls. I've realised that audiences now obviously need something short and snappy. Arun: They do.Joy: When you think about your father's cinema, do you believe in letting them remain untouched as classics? Or would you say that when you are planning to colourise, you colourise the whole thing and release a shorter version. Or you wouldn't think of doing that? Arun: We are starting with restoring Sahib, Biwi aur Gulam. The only way to make it viable commercially is to release it in colour format . Basically, when we colourise a film we keep the length in mind - say 250 minutes. When it goes beyond that length, yes, it needs to be trimmed. You see the audiences reaction and remove what doesn't work. Joy: My father was very fond of your father and always referred to him as Devdas. He was a character like that - lovelorn.Arun: He was always in search of something... Joy: In fact, I can imagine your father playing the role of Devdas very well.Arun: My father never enjoyed acting. Acting was something that was forced on him, whether it was economic reasons or others. He was never comfortable as an actor.Joy: How would you rate him as an actor?Arun: He was quite good. See him in Mr and Mrs '55, it is totally unlike his real-life persona. Joy: I rate my father very highly. I actually got to know him through his films. I was 10 when he died and hadn't seen much of him. Most of his films have strong women characters and in Nutan he found an amazing protagonist. His compassion and humanity came through to me in his films. Every time I watch his films, I discover something new and for me, it's a learning process, a humbling process. I am really privileged to be born to a father and mother like them. I'm sure Arun will agree: to have a talented mother is wonderful. I remember your mother coming over to our house. Our families were in touch, but somehow, as children we never met.Arun: The disadvantage, which Bimalda faced, unlike my father, was that he was a director. My father was an actor, so there is a lot of footage of him.Joy: Yes, I don't have many moving images of my father. Just a few pictures and some footage of the family.Arun: I don't see the need to establish an identity of mine for the masses anymore. When I was 15, I thought I'd be a top director by the time I was 21. But life is different. When my father was in the industry, he could command even when he started as a director in Bazee. Today, there is so much pressure.Joy: I know. If I make a film there will be comparisons. But I would like to make at least one film - I owe it to myself. I have to live up to very high standards. You know, the world is an unkind place. You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't! Like Arun said, I think it has become less important now to prove anything to the world. If anything, I need to prove it to myself. It's all within me. I'm not competing with anyone.

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