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We all needed to revisit our past with ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, Mehra


“Movies are my life and I can’t pretend I am someone else outside my films,” says noted screenwriter and film director, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, further pointing out, “I have borrowed a lot from my life.” He also states that whenever he cheats in his cinema, it shows on the screen.

Addressing the audiences at a Masterclass on ‘Nuances on Inspirational Cinema’, Mehra said that all his films displayed some element from his life. “My grandmother, who used to tell me stories from Ramayana, during my childhood, had brainwashed me that Ram and Ravan are one and both are inside us,” he added, informing that this had made him make his first film, ‘Aks’.

“I was residing in Old Delhi with a postal pin code number 110006, and had been a witness to everything happening in the area from Ramleela to Hindu-Muslim tension, which inspired me to make ‘Delhi-6’, while the boys from ‘Rang de Basanti’ are my friends from the college, whom I meet with their families every year, and from whom I borrowed the characteristic traits for the protagonists from this film,” Mehra maintained, stating that the refugee colony in Delhi and his interest in sports, including his heroes Dara Singh, Dhyan Chand and Milkha Singh, resulted in ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. “So it’s all real life,” he stated.

Speaking further, Mehra said that we all needed to revisit our past with ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. “Without even having proper shoes, how did he break the records after records,” he exclaimed, quipping that today his son refuses to attend his squash practice without having a new racket, which is 0.3 gms lighter than his existing racket, so that it would be easy on his wrist, and therefore needs to be told the story of Milkha Singh.

The filmmaker, who is presently on the jury for the international competition section at the ongoing International Film Festival of India 2018, said that he likes to use in his films the format, wherein some events from the past relevant to the present are generously used. “It gives me a lot of freedom of narrating the story,” he added, pointing out the audience is very simple and very wise, has a sense of feeling and understands this format.

“Each film breathes very organically and has its own rhythm, and I try discovering, following and finding this rhythm,” Mehra said, noting that once this rhythm is found, it takes him along. He also observed that movies enter into one’s sub-consciousness and remains there for the rest of the life, and then the movies become part of collective consciousness of a society, of the nation, and of the world, at large, and influences all these things.

“After ‘Aks’, I have not entered the studio floor as I like to go in the sun, on locations and shoot my movies,” the filmmaker admitted, mentioning that he loves natural lighting a lot, rather than negative lighting. He also revealed that he didn’t want ‘Rang de Basanti’ to look beautiful as then the film would have not looked natural.

The well-known filmmaker finally said that being on the director’s chair is a very humbling experience because cinema is a director’s medium. “There are as many approaches as there are as many cinemas,” he stated, retorting that if someone is talking about how to make a film, then he is talking about something else and not filmmaking.

It was also informed that Mehra’s next film ‘Mere Pyare Pradhan Mantri’ which is due to release soon is about four slum children and a single mother played by the actress, Anjali Patil. In fact, most of the players in this film are from slums and in order to make them comfortable, no crane, trolley or stand was used during filming of the movie.

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