Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nana Patekar Did Not Slap Me: Milind Ukey

On the eve of the release of his film Paathshaala, Milind Ukey tells Jyothi Venkatesh over a cup of tea in the office of producer Ahmed Khan that he would rather make a comedy with a message and meaning like Raju Hirani, than set out to make mindless potboilers like David Dhawan.

What is Paathshaala about?
Paathshaala is basically about the various intrinsic problems which are being faced by not only the students and the
teachers but also the parents and guardians at various levels. It is an emotional drama which sets out to tackle social issues.

The premise of the film is set on the exorbitant fees that the schools extract from the poor gullible parents in the name of extra curricular activities for their wards. By putting pressure on the parents, most of the schools only end up in extorting money from the parents but the tragedy is that no one is ready to complain.

My film Paathshaala will offer a platform for all parents, teachers and students to voice their grievances.

How did the idea for the film germinate?
To be frank with you, though I too am a writer on my own right, it was Ahmed Khan who has produced Paathshaala who gave me the idea and asked me to work on it to make Paathshaala.

In fact it was challenging for me to take up the task of directing the film because not only is Ahmed a director too besides being a choreographer but he has also written the subject. To add to it, he is a very good friend of Shahid Kapoor too.

When I suggested to him that he should himself direct the film, he categorically told me that he wanted me to direct the film since it had a genre with which he was not comfortable.

What message does Paathshaala set out to convey to the audience?
Paathshaala is not a blockbuster though it is honest in an entertaining way and depicts the day to day problems faced by parents as well as students in schools.

The message that I have set out to drive home through my film is that we should never treat our children as our property and take them for granted and emphasized on the fact that the government should wake up to the fundamental rights of the children.

I have underlined the fact that we should be more considerate to our children instead of still thrusting as parents our own egos and ambitions on our children.

Did Ahmed Khan interfere with you on the sets?
Right from the day we went on the floors with the film, Ahmed and I created a synergy instead of conflict, as a producer-director team. We knew our respective spaces and also our roles were very clear.

Nana Patekar has the reputation of slapping his directors. How did you find the chore of directing him?
It was not a chore but a pleasant task directing Nana. Nana did not slap me. Nana has seen three generations of directors in a career span of forty years in which he has been acting right from the time he had started off in theatre.

If you set out to work with him as a director, you should see to it that you know your job well and work at his level. It is only when you are not prepared that Nana will throw his tantrums.

It helped me that Nana knew how capable I was since I had worked with him on the sets of Khamoshi The Musical earlier.

Did you assist Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Khamoshi?
I was the associate director with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in not only Khamoshi The Musical but also Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and had worked at close quarters with all actors right from Nana and Manisha Koirala to Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai.

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