'Why the hell am I keeping back? Yash Chopra is making films, isn't he?'
After a hiatus of 16 years, Sholay director Ramesh Sippy is back behind the camera for his next film, a young love story. Sippy, palpably enthusiastic about his comeback, talks about working with youngsters for the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Zamana Deewana, and the changing concept of love in the Internet Age
Did you miss directing films during the long break?
Oh yes! I stopped because I felt I wasn't seeing the whole picture. I wanted an overview of the kind of films being made. I got sidetracked into television (Buniyaad), and then I realised my son, Rohan, had grown up. Now that he is established, I ask myself, 'Why the hell am I keeping back? Mr Yash Chopra is making films, isn't he?' Now, I have to prove that I still deserve the respect that I have received all along. The most beautiful part of today's era is that every kind of film works. I am working with Shridhar Raghavan, and we are in the final stages of scripting.
So, are you roping in a young cast for this love story?
The current superstars are in their 40s. I am not making a mature love story; I am keen on making a film with younger actors. This film will be a romance for sure, with a bit of action thrown in. One would have thought you would return to direction with an action-packed film, considering you are still identified with Sholay. I have always been identified with violence, though I made one Sholay. Shakti was a drama and Seeta Aur Geeta was a comedy.
After Saagar, this will be your second attempt at a romantic film. How has the concept of love changed?
Love has to be seen in its current context unless I make a period romance. In today's romance, there is more frankness; the lingo is different. We are in the Internet Age and the youth talk and send text messages at the same time. But at the end of the day, what needs to percolate through is the universality of love.
Which have been your favourite love stories of late?
Crazy Stupid Love was cute.
Isn't a younger director more qualified to make films on today's youth?
My first film, Andaaz, was a mature love story. I was very young and everybody asked me if I really wanted to start with a film about a widow and widower. Even Shammi Kapoor, the film's hero, told me, 'What I am known for is romance and dance!' I said, 'Yes sir, but you have done that a lot. What if we do something different?'
Today, I watch all the new love stories, the way young people behave, so that's my school. Of course, I keep meeting youngsters. My cast and crew is young, I have grandchildren who are teenagers now. Besides, Raj Kapoor made his loveliest romance, Bobby, when he was much older.
Your son Rohan is known for his slick-paced films. Are you aiming for a similar approach?
I won't keep in mind the way he or other youngsters are making their films. I will do it my way.