Subhash Ghai has been around in the Hindi film industry for more than four decades now, and played a role in creating many careers. But recently, he found himself creating headlines when actor Mahima Chaudhry, who he had launched in the film Pardes (1997), alleged that he had ‘bullied’ her in her initial years in the industry, and she had to lose out on films too because of him.
Ask him this, and he says,“Voh bacchi hai, bhool jaao. Excitement mein keh gayi hogi. She had come to our film institute just last year as a guest lecturer, atleast two-three times. We talk every eight-nine months, we keep joking with each other. Someone must have provoked her, and asked ‘kya hua tha’, like you are doing, so I say something.”
The 75-year-old adds that him and Chaudhary also had a friendly chat after the recent allegations. “The bonding is there. She is a very nice girl, mazaak mein bola hoga. When I read the news, I messaged her ‘mubarak ho’, she started laughing, I laughed too!,” tells us Ghai, who recently launched his own music label, and the first song, which is based on the Gayatri Mantra, and the filmmaker translated it into Hindi from Sanskrit.
He says he wanted to do it for his students. “They are talented, they need a platform to prove themselves. We can give you education, but it’s you who ahs to win the competition, right? If you don’t get those opportunities, then what would you do?,” he asks.
This naturally leads us to ask him his take on nepotism, an alleged rampant practice in showbiz. The debates have especially grown fiercer after actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
Ghai feels that is ‘nothing new’. “That debate was there when I entered films in 1965 too. The Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, BR Chopra family… but people like Dharmendra, Sunil Dutt came, Rajendra Kuamr aaya na? These stars were also popular. The essence is that the judges are the audience, who are strangers. They are not individuals. The public decides, they don’t care if you are a star kid or not,” he reasons.
However, the Karz director adds that industry children have the interest of the public from the word go. He says, “Initial attraction is there, kisi ke bachhe ko dekhne jaate hain ‘yeh toh apne baap ki tarah lagta hai, chalo dekhne chalet hain. One-two films can work on the name. You see, only 20 percent of children from the film business are successful. Actors like Ashay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, also came from outside. I never thought about this, when I was working with actors such as Jackie Shroff and Minaakshi Sheshadri. Aaj kal kya ho gaya hai, we have started looking at things with a different perspective.”
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