At 60, Shekhar Kapur is feeling great and believes our youth are all set to lead the world. MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER talks to the filmmaker
Shekhar Kapur may have celebrated his 60th birthday last December but he insists he is having "the best time" of his life. The world-renowned filmmaker says: "I am less prejudiced now. I am more free... free of this whole idea of having to succeed. I am free of worrying about what happens next. I have no idea what age means. I am at that stage in life where my spirit is telling me `welcome home'."Kapur, whose Bandit Queen addressed the colonisation of gender and caste, quite contrarily is "looking forward to the reverse colonisation of the world by India. I want to become a cultural colonist. I am not talking of hegemony. The colonisation is a fact and it will come to pass and there is no morality attached to a happening. Indian youth are going to drive the world. Business follows culture. What we consume and why we consume is driven by culture and not the other way around."
While everyone talks of Hindi cinema making it big in the West, Kapur has gone ahead and made a name for himself in Hollywood with the multiple Oscar-nominated Elizabeth and Four Feathers. "We cannot talk of taking Bollywood to the West unless we create a globally acceptable template. The cultural colonisation is something like a drawbridge... you know, where you go halfway and the let the world come into your space."Kapur has just wrapped up the shooting of The Golden Age, the sequel to Elizabeth. "I do not look at it as a sequel, it is a different story. In Elizabeth, I looked at power; The Golden Age talks of people in power looking for immortality, and in the third movie, which will be perhaps be made 10 years down the line, I look at how a person with power, who has achieved a kind of immortality, deals with mortality. And yes, I have always thought of Elizabeth as a trilogy."Kapur is an avid blogger and his blog, www.shekharkapur.com, a collection of personal poems and random observations, has a good number of hits and lively discussions. "My main reason for becoming a filmmaker is because I enjoy telling stories and communicating. Blogging helps me talk to people on a day-to-day basis. During the making of The Golden Age, I maintained a diary online." One of his earlier projects, Time Machine, was never completed. "I will perhaps produce it. And I know it will make a great comic! Time travel is fascinating because it defies logic. We cage ourselves in logic. We are born with no differentiation between real and imaginary. As we grow up, in order to survive, we edit out things we know and become prisoners of logic. That is why comics are popular because their mythic nature transcends logic."After The Golden Age, he is embarking on Paani, a project close to his heart. "I want to make films on issues that provoke me. The feudal nature of society unsettles me. Water is meant to be accessible to everyone. How is it that I could have a shower for half an hour in this hotel and step out to see women and children in mile-long queues waiting to fill a pot of water? This set me thinking. The film is set about 15 to 20 years into the future and is about a city of 20 million where 15 per cent have water while the rest do not and what happens when the water wars break out."Kapur will make Paani in India. "I want to make my next film here. I have done the Hollywood thing. We are all prisoners of our childhood fantasies." Describing himself as an "individualistic filmmaker," he explains the reasons for the Mandela biopic he was to direct, not coming through. "I told the producer that since we have not been able to come to an agreement about the script for so long, it is better to part ways. It is a film that needs to be made and it would be better to get another director on board. Creative differences of this kind happen all the time, but the producer and I remain good friends."Kapur's Mr. India is remembered to this day for the image makeover the sari went through in the super sexy song, Kaate nahin kat-the. "I don't think I can take credit for that," he says with a smile. "Sridevi had a part to play in that as well. No director works alone. Mr. India was a collaborative effort from writer Javed Akhtar, producer Boney Kapoor and the cast and crew."
In a world bristling with remakes, are we looking at a remake of Mr. India? "I will not be directing it but I have heard somebody wants to make it. I am okay with it because I am sure it will be a whole new story. And yes, we are bringing out a comic based on the film sometime." Incidentally, Kapur is one of the creative collaborators of the newly launched Virgin Comics. Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra are the other creative collaborators.Kapur watches contemporary films and has liked quite a few including Black Friday, Monsoon Wedding, Page 3 and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. "I also liked Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi as I could identify with it. It spoke of the time when I was at the Delhi University and so many people I knew went away to join the Naxal movement. I enjoyed Maqbool and Omkara." When told about the comparisons made between Omkara and Bandit Queen, Kapur smiles: "I am sure it is the language!"Married to singer/actor/artist Suchitra Krishnamurthy, the couple has a daughter. Kapur, who came to India to spend quality time with his family and celebrate his daughter's sixth birthday, says: "Shuttling between continents is tough but you live with it."