Four months back, when I met Hrishida, he was quite unwell. The process of dialysis had started. I spoke to him informally about a lot of things then and had fixed up for a formal interview once he got better. That day would now never come. He was admitted to the hospital in June, and then spent a long time there, and then the last breaths...
Are you happy as a filmmaker?
I did not wish to become a filmmaker, but a bio-chemist. Now, after having spent so many years as a film-maker, I wish I had become a bio-chemist instead. Two of my grand-daughters have completed their Ph.D. I feel satisfied when I look at them.
Any regrets as a film director?
Life is the name of something tough. If life does not provide you the means to live on your terms, it has to be lived on its terms. Why should one regret? What one did had to be done, but I would say this much for sure: I did not make films to live, but made them so that I could live for films. My relationship with films has been such.
Of your own films, which is your favourite?
My favourite film is Satyakam. Its subject has been very close to my heart. It shows a reflection of reality. I had thought that corruption would end once we became independent. But this was not so. Then I thought there was nothing left to do but laugh. Which is why I made Golmaal, Naram Garam and Chupke Chupke. People laugh as well as reflect when they see these films. These have stories inspired by life. Gurudev Rabindranath used to say, creativity is borne out of personal experience. I find it true for me.
In most of your films, death featured as a special subject. Why?
If one lives on one's own terms, life seems good. Such people find death beautiful too. I have seen death from up close. My younger son Sundeep was travelling by train to Delhi. He had an attack of asthma on the train. He was admitted to a nursing home, but he could not be saved. Life is like that only...zindagi aisii hii to hai...
Translated from Outlook Saptahik, September 11
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