Pooja Bhatt on Sadak 2: Working with my dad and Sanjay Dutt after long and so is Alia
Pooja Bhatt on her web movie Cabaret finally seeing the light of the day, why the film did not get a theatrical release, and on reuniting with dad Mahesh Bhatt for Sadak 2
Like filmmaker father Mahesh Bhatt, Pooja Bhatt minces no words in stating her opinions. She is an interviewer's delight. You don't need to ask too much. The actor-turned-filmmaker knows exactly what you are looking for. She's witty, entertaining and articulate. Right now, she feels akin to a mother who has just delivered a baby. Her production, Cabaret, which was stuck for over two years finally released on Zee5 on January 9. "All this while I was like a single mother, taking care of the project, I finally found a partner [the digital medium] with whom I can share my joy," she laughs.
About 14 years ago, Bhatt had announced Cabaret with Mallika Sherawat, who at that time, was her dad's protégé. This was after Sherawat had tasted stardom with Murder (2004). The project did not roll. But Bhatt is quick to point out that this Cabaret is different. "It is the writer-director Kaustav Narayan Niyogi's vision. Initially, I had thought of going along with my script, but he reworked it and made it his own. It's his debut and he, too, had to patiently wait for the film to release. The other day, he was driving past Juhu beach and saw a hoarding of Cabaret. He stopped the car and called me. There was a long pause, but we had said so much in those unspoken moments. We are relieved and hope to celebrate soon with the cast and crew."
Cabaret stars Richa Chadha, Gulshan Devaiah and cricketer S Sreesanth. "Richa has charted her own path, Sreesanth is still in the after-glow of Bigg Boss and Gulshan will find his way. The timing of Cabaret's release could not be better for me. Guess it was destined to release now."
Richa Chadha stars in Cabaret
Bhatt explains what went wrong. "Cabaret was complete and ready for release. Every film is allotted a budget for production and marketing. Budgets are written in stone. We live in a time where marketing is an important part of filmmaking. Whenever I make a film, I ensure that we don't lose money or that nobody wants to see it. Just before the release of the film, the producers [T-Series and Wave Film] slashed the promotion budget. The promos were on air and the buzz had been created. I had to take a painful decision: Whether to go ahead with the release with the truncated amount or pull the plug. I chose the latter. It was a tough decision but had to be taken."
The digital world is a whole new medium. "I may be an old school filmmaker and actor but I have got the maverick streak from dad. He made films like Daddy (1989) and Janam (1985) for Doordarshan, these were the days when no new film would release on the small screen. Filmmakers felt he was crazy to do it, but now, three decades later, films are being made specially for the small screen."
Bhatt says she is used to battling roadblocks. "Filmmaking involves a lot of people and there are differences. Obstacles do not bother me. I emerge stronger. It is a learning experience. At the end, all is well that ends well. I only need to head to my farmhouse in Kalote, a two-hour drive from Mumbai and I am recharged. It is another planet where I spend time with my dogs and get recharged to face new challenges."
'It's homecoming for all of us'
Pooja Bhatt begins work on her next, Sadak 2, in April. The romantic thriller is a sequel to her father's 1991 film, which starred Sanjay Dutt and her. The film is also remembered for the late Sadashiv Amrapurkar's performance as the villain, Maharani. Sadak 2 marks Bhatt senior's return to direction after a hiatus. It is also the first time Pooja is teaming up with sister Alia.
"It's homecoming for all of us. I am acting after ages. My last film as an actor was Everybody Says I'm Fine in 2001. I am working with my dad after long and so is Alia. I am reuniting with Sanju after ages. So, there will be a lot of bonhomie on the set." She also terms it as payback time for dad from whom she has learnt the craft. "I will be working in front as well as behind the camera. It is a matter of pride for me as I have never assisted him. We plan to roll in April."
Pooja also accompanied her dad for the location hunt in Uttarakhand. "We have already begun work on the music, it is heartwrenching. Aditya Roy Kapur is already on board. We will soon cast the rest."
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Are Sanjay and Pooja planning for the sequel of Sadak?