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`Your father was quite a contrast to mine'

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CHAT OVER CHAI Filmmakers Arun Dutt (in blue) and Joy Roy, sons of legendary film makers Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy
CHAT OVER CHAI Filmmakers Arun Dutt (in blue) and Joy Roy, sons of legendary film makers Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy

They are sons of two of the pioneers of Indian cinema, yet they are not actively involved in film-making or acting. Instead, Arun Dutt, son of Guru Dutt, and Joy Bimal Roy, son of Bimal Roy, want to focus on remastering the negatives of classics and re-releasing their fathers' works. They tell RENUKA VIJAY KUMAR how 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 interact during their times, but then, as time passed... we never really interacted. Joy Bimal Roy: No... we didn't.Arun: Now, both of us are concerned about the condition of the negatives we possess of our fathers' films. It's imperative that we restore them. We are planning to `colourise' (digitally remastering black and white films into colour) all the films so that they are more appealing to the audiences of today. And of course, re-release them with pure sound. Joy: I found a 40-year-old negative of the film that he (Bimal Roy) had shot of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. I put it together in the form of a documentary. It didn't need any restoring; it was in pristine condition. It has been my dream to see at least one film of my father's in colour because I think it will work - it's the love story Madhumati. It's timeless. Maybe with a little bit of editing. I believe, in Mughal-E-Azam, two songs were removed originally. Arun: If a song is removed, I can understand, but chopping a film...no.Joy: No, I'm talking about reducing the number of songs in a film to reduce its length.Arun: The audience of today has a limited attention span, so we have to cut down the duration of a film. Your father's films are such classics and I've been such a fan of his. When I was a teenager, I used to cycle 15 km to see movies such as Sujatha and Bandini.Joy: Yes, those films are immortal. They belong to a different time. You know, I feel your father was a passionate man. My father was quiet. Your father was quite a contrast to mine. Yet they belonged to a time when there was graciousness and dignity. Women were treated as women and not as sex objects. I've realised that audiences now need something short and snappy. Arun: True, they do.Joy: When you think about your father's cinema, as classics they should remain untouched. But if you are planning to colourise, would you do it for the whole film and release a shorter version? Arun: We are starting with Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam. The only way to make it commercially viable 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 audience's 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. It was something forced upon him. Whether it was for economic reasons or not, I don't know. 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 against his real life persona. Joy: I rate my father highly. I actually got to know him through his films. I was 10 when he died and didn't see much of him. Some of his colleagues say his nickname was `married print.' Most of his films have strong women characters and in Nutan, he found an amazing protagonist. His compassion and humanity came through in his films. Every time I watch his films, I discover something new and for me, it's a learning process. I am really privileged to be born to parents like them. I'm sure you will agree - that 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 shot of the family.Arun: I don't see the need to establish an identity (of myself) for the masses. When I was 15, I thought I'd be a top director by the time I was 21. But life is different 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 high standards. You know, the world is an unkind place. You're dammed if you do, you're dammed if you don't! Like you 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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