Aamne saamne with the Samantas
Four decades after blockbusters such as Aradhana, Kati Patang and An Evening In Paris, Ashim Samanta, son of late director Shakti Samanta, is planning to further his father's legacy by producing a new film, Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai, in which he will launch his son, Aditya Samanta, as the hero. The father-son duo of Ashim and Aditya talk about the golden years of the Samantas, their continuing association with Rajesh Khanna and what the future has in store for the second and third
Ashim, did you choose to name your film Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai because it evokes memories of the hit song from your father’s Kati Patang?
Ashim: We wanted a romantic title and this title suits our film the best. In fact, the title was with someone else and we requested him to part with it.
You are the first in three generations of Samantas to venture into acting, Aditya. Don’t you want to direct like your dad and granddad?
Aditya: I contemplated being a director but I found playing different characters more interesting. I also like the stardom associated with acting. Directors are famous, but they are not at the forefront.
Ashim: My father and I had seen him act in a play and my father had told me, “He is fantastic. Why are you looking out for another actor?”
Ashim, did you ever try your hand at acting?
I didn’t have the looks; I was too short. I never considered acting as a career.
What kind of a romance is Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai?
Ashim: It is a passionate romance, centred around two hotelier families who are enemies. Their children (born on the same day) get attracted to each other when they go to Poland for further studies. When Aditya’s character comes to know that the girl he loves is his enemy’s daughter, he tries to avoid her, but is intractably drawn to her and she faces a similar dilemma.
Young lovers facing family enmities did wonders in the ’80s (Love Story, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak). But is the theme relevant today?
Ashim: Yes. Today, films like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore are doing well; but our filmmakers will make romantic movies again. Yash Chopra is also making a romantic film with Shah Rukh Khan. After Yash Chopra and my films, you can expect 30-40 romantic films. Bobby, Maine Pyaar Kiya, Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Betaab had the same story, but audiences saw them at least 5-6 times. Each film was unique in the way it was narrated on screen. Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai is directed by Shree Narayan Singh who has been my assistant and editor for a decade, and he has done a fine job.
Remakes are all the rage today. Ashim, why didn’t you launch Aditya in a remake of Aradhana, which was your dad’s biggest blockbuster?
Ashim: I did think about it, but the film is still very fresh in people’s minds today. He would have been compared to Rajesh Khanna. I didn’t want his first film to be compared to an iconic film.
If the two of you could direct or act in a remake of a Shakti Samanta film, which one would you choose?
Ashim: Aradhana, Amanush and China Town.
Aditya: I would love to act in China Town and Howrah Bridge; I would love to try action now.
What was your relationship like with Shakti Samanta?
Aditya: I was very close to him but when he was making films, I was quite young. Yet, I would observe his interactions with actors.
Ashim: I would accompany my father to music recordings. Co-incidentally, Kashmir Ki Kali, Saawan Ki Ghata and Aradhana were shot during my summer vacations. Subconsciously, I picked up a lot of things from my dad. He was my best friend.
Music was always another hero in Shakti Samanta’s films. The sound of music has changed completely; do you think Anu Malik will be able to keep pace with it?
Ashim: Music is the first hero in a love story. A love story inspires music directors and lyricists. I went to Anu Malik and told him that I needed an excellent music score for the launch of my son’s career. I told him to become my partner and that we would share the profits in the music.
Aditya: At the music launch, we started playing songs from our classics like Aradhana followed by the songs of Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai. Those present enjoyed both equally. The music is at par with the music of my grand-father’s films.
How did you get hold of the late Anand Bakshi’s lyrics?
Ashim: A TV channel interviewed me about Anand Bakshi. It prompted me to call Mr Bakshi’s son and ask him if he had any of Bakshiji’s unused songs. He said he had quite a few. I found the song, Pyaar karna na tha, pyaar karna pada, suited my situation to the T.
Are you still in touch with your dad’s favourite actors, Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore?
Ashim: I am in constant touch with Sharmilaji and Rajesh Khanna. I had narrated a script to Rajesh Khanna when he was well. My father was very keen on making it and Rajesh Khanna was very excited and even expressed a desire to be involved with the screenplay and be present at the song recordings — just like he used to be present while my dad recorded songs with RD Burman.
Bollywood News Service