Dinesh Vijan: Anything different is always frowned upon and that has to do with the way we are conditioned
Dinesh Vijan He has always believed in supporting the content he is convinced without fearing failure. Raabta (2017) and 'Agent Vinod' (2012) taught me to watch cinema differently, he says. Before the launch of his production, 'Bala', he spoke with BT about choosing the right content, meeting with three directors where he had started his Bollywood Trip and unforgettable lessons you have learned along the way. Excerpts
After 'Luka Chuppi', 'Arjun Patiala' and 'Made In China', 'Bala', which will hit theaters this week, will be its fourth release as a producer this year. How would you describe the year, which has been hectic, challenging and accelerated?
This has been a year of lessons, a better understanding of the work we do and stability. I have managed to align my films for next year: the ones that come out on the floor and the ones that are released. I can't wait for 2020 because there is a lot of action ahead. I'm meeting with Imtiaz Ali, Homi Adajania & Sriram Raghavan , with whom I had worked at the beginning of my trip as a filmmaker. I remember learning a lot from Imtiaz when I was doing 'Love Aaj Kal' (2009). Next year is fuller than this. With all that I have learned, particularly from my failures, I am more than prepared for next year.
What about your plans to lead? You wanted to start something this year ...
In the next two years, I have over ten films slated to release & around five or six big films to roll out. I can’t take my attention away from that right now. As a filmmaker, my biggest learnings came from 'Agent Vinod' (2012) & 'Raabta' (2017), which taught me just how fast the audience is changing. I learnt the art of making films like 'Badlapur' (2015) & 'Stree' (2018) from these. Failures teach you more than success. Today, as a filmmaker, I go by my gut instinct. I have to know the emotional arc of a story & see if it works for an audience.
While this year has been one of mixed results for you, what are your expectations of Bala? Do you feel nervous before the release of a movie?
No, i do not do it. I'm not nervous because I make the movies I really believe in. Take Bala for example, I really love it for what it represents. So far, with most of our movies, you take something home after the visual experience. This time, you could also leave a bit of yourself in theaters. I am extremely proud of this movie because it will establish an unreal connection with you as an audience.
A film in similar lines was released a week before 'Bala'. Does that bother you?
I’ve not commented on this matter so far because when the dust settles, people are smart enough to see things for themselves. People are going to say all kinds of things. Yes, the lead characters in both films are bald, but I know that my film is different. In 'Bala', there’s nothing similar to the south Indian film (on which 'Ujda Chaman' was based). My company has stood for positive & original content. We’ve stuck to our date for 'Bala', & we’re confident about our film. I’m known to thrive on my sense of originality.
When you announced your movie about a year ago, what attracted you to the subject at that time?
La película no trata tanto de la calvicie. En realidad se trata del hecho de que todos tenemos algo que no nos gusta de nosotros mismos. Puede ser el tamaño, el peso, la altura, el cabello o el color de la piel. La idea es amarte a ti mismo por lo que eres, porque es una tontería esperar que otras personas amen esta versión perfecta & superficial de ti. Amar Kaushik (director) fue la mejor persona para hacer este tema, lo que atraerá a los indios más simples pero más complicados. La razón por la que permanecí en silencio todo este tiempo fue porque no quería corromper la experiencia que Bala, como película, ofrece.
Speaking of imperfections, are you aware of something of your own?
I don’t observe myself so much; I am not even on social media. I remember when I was in class four, I shot up (in height), & suddenly, I was the tallest in my class. I developed a hunch because I became conscious of my height. Of course, eventually, my height became my strength. I’ve realised that anything different is always frowned upon & that has to do with the way we are conditioned. With Bala, we want to initiate a change there. That is the aspect I related to the most. We all have one such story in our life that underlines our imperfections or what we see as our imperfections. 'Bala' will make you love yourself.
As a producer, you’ve refrained from backing anything formulaic. At the outset, you were doing something different from the rest of the industry. Did people also frown at your choices of films & the direction you were heading in?
I don’t know about that because we were busy making films. We’ve always backed stories that we firmly believe in. We’ve forged some extremely fruitful equations with filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali, Sriram Raghavan & Homi Adajania . As a company that arrived out of nowhere, we have never feared failures. We never take our audience for granted & never hide things or mislead them. Yes, when you make five films, you will go right & wrong with some of them. But why make a film that you don’t believe in? I’ve always wanted the directors of my films to get their vision right; we can work around the rest. After making 'Agent Vinod', Sriram made 'Badlapur' & then 'AndhaDhun'; he’s come into his own & is now making 'Ekkees' with us. Fortunately, I’ve always found like-minded people to work with, whose love for cinema is greater than everything else. The intent is always to make the best possible film with the material at hand.