You strongly believe in repeating your actors. Satyagraha is your second film with Amitabh Bachchan, fifth with Ajay Devgn, third with Arjun Rampal and fourth with Manoj Bajpayee.
They are actors who can play any role efficiently and most importantly, they are different characters in each of my film. If Amitabhji hadn’t done Satyagraha, I wouldn’t have been able to find another actor of his age, who is such an active person. Ajay has a certain middle-class aura that helps him connect with the audience. This helps me to cast him in versatile roles. Manoj Bajpayee is a brilliant actor while Arjun Rampal brings a lot to the table. I don’t look at them as stars, I respect them for who they are.
This is, however, the first time you are working with Kareena Kapoor. When you work with a new actor is there a sense of discovery?
Kareena is a very solid actor. She prepares so well for her roles. Her passion, her understanding of films and the way she performs is brilliant. She is the most talented actress I have ever seen.
Amrita Rao also stars in your film. What prompted you to cast her considering she hasn’t been in the public eye since a long time?
She is a very good actor who has done good films. She fits the bill in Satyagraha.
Have you ever participated in a Satyagraha yourself?
Yes, I have participated in a protest against the Mandal Commission. But my film isn’t only Satyagraha. At its heart, it’s about a father-son relationship.
What is the USP of your film?
It’s USP is the awakening of the youth and their understanding of the new India.
Do you think there is an audience for such issue-based films?
My movies are stories about issues. If you don’t have a strong story who is going to see your film? I don’t tackle issues. I only try to tell the story while issues form the backdrop. The challenge is to make an engaging film.
Is Amitabh playing an inspirational figure in the film?
All the characters in the movie are inspirational and I am sure Amitabhji is an inspiration to the youth, otherwise he wouldn’t have so many followers. He is a living legend. He is an amazing actor and a great person.
Do you get along well on a personal level?
Oh! He has a great sense of humour. We enjoy a lot on the sets.
And do you share a strong personal equation with Ajay too?
I am close to Ajay, but we don’t discuss our personal lives. On the professional front, he is an economical actor in terms of expression. He will give only the requisite amount of expression.
Why do you have an item number in every film?
Song and dance is part of our life. Even in Damul there was an item song. Whenever we celebrate an occasion we always have naach gaana in our society. In the film it’s not like an item song; in two-and-a-half minutes I am able to communicate things about Ajay’s character which would have otherwise taken me more than 30 minutes. You have to use an item number intelligently, you have to make it enjoyable and yet give it a purpose.
Tell us about your daughter Disha. Is she also going to get into filmmaking?
She is 23 now and wants to produce films. Right now, she is learning with me but someday she would like to have her own production house.