Director- writer Arshad Yunus Parvez Khan, who hails from Aligarh, is the son of the late character actor Yunus Parvez, who was a very integral part of Bollywood in the 70’s and 80’s with over 400 films to his credit as an actor. In an exclusive and candid interview with senior journalist and his father Yunus Parvez’s good friend JYOTHI VENKATESH for CINE BLITZ, Arshad Khan shares that he was always inclined towards direction and writing, unlike his late father, since his college days at AMU.
He has directed many Hindi films with Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Ayub Khan, Manik Bedi, to name a few. He believes that the silver screen is a canvas where the director pours his narrative in a fluid form. Though action and romance are his forte, he has directed thrillers and murder mysterious with equal ease. Languages have never been a barrier and Arshad has had the good fortune to direct a Bhojpuri film for none other than the thespian Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Bano. Excerpts from the interview:
If I am not mistaken, you were into acting and direction from the beginning!
Yes. You are right. I was acting and directing on the stage during my college days and later joined filmmakers like Rajeev Rai and Ramesh Talwar as an assistant director for films like Tridev, Vishwaatma, Duniya and Zamana till I got a break as a director in the Mithun Chakraborty starrer Aadmi.
In what way has the status of the director changed today with technology?
Advancement of technology has provided an extra edge to a competent director. It is now possible to translate a vision into a digital medium. Technology and innovation are extremely important and today Indian cinema is at par to the international standards. Status of a director hasn’t changed; rather it has become even more important.
What did you learn from directors like Rajeev Rai and Ramesh Talwar?
I learned a lot technically as well as the art of tackling the subject from Rajeev Rai and emotion and romance from Ramesh Talwar before branching out as an independent director and directing my own films.
How was your father Yunus Parvez?
My walid saab (father) was a very good actor and as an actor did all kinds of roles as possible. What I liked about him was the fact that he had patriotism in his veins. I feel that my father’s potential as an actor wasn’t fully utilized by the industry at that time and he didn’t get his proper due. Actors were generally typecast during that time. Even a great writer-director like Kader Khan used to lament that my father deserved even better roles but sadly did not get them at all.
Your father was a very good friend of big stars like Sanjeev Kumar and Shashi Kapoor!
Yes. Not only was my father a great friend of big stars like Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi, Satyen Kapoo, Vikas Anand and Mac Mohan were in his friend circle. Directors like Prakash Mehra, S.M. Abbas, Vimal Kumar, Ramesh Talwar and Deepak Bahry were also his close friends. Sanjeev Kumar was in theater with dad and even after he became a big star, he would regularly visit our home and they would bond over drinks and food, he relished the paaya cooked at home and there were days when he would sleepover and report for the shooting directly from our house at Juhu, though he used to stay at Bandra.
What did your stint in the theater teach you?
Basically, it was the theater and my stint there that taught me what discipline is.
How was Mithun Chakraborty as an actor?
Mithun Chakraborty is an excellent actor and he had absolutely no reservations when he set out to work with me, a debutant director in Aadmi. On the first day of the shoot of Aadmi, I had the privilege of directing stalwarts like Ajit Saab and Mithunda, Gautami and my dad Yunus Parvez. That evening Mithunda went up to my father, congratulated him and praised my work. Coming from a legend like him definitely pleased my dad. Mithunda also attended my wedding as a family friend as I had directed Mithunda in Aadmi, Apne Dum Par and Dadagiri.
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Tell me something about Jackie Shroff who you had directed in Jaane Jigar!
Jackie Shroff, who I directed in Jaane Jigar has been the most humble and down to earth person I have met and one of the most stylish actors that I have worked with till date.
At a time when you were successful as a director of films starring stars like Mithun Chakraborty and Jackie Shroff, what made you decide to make your debut in TV as a director?
The TV industry was booming, big production houses were entering the small screen. It only seemed correct to join the bandwagon and I am very pleased with my decision. I started my TV career with Aadhe Gaon, written by Rahi Masoom Raza. I felt that a new industry was opening up in addition to films and I was confident of directing any TV serial of any genre. I have directed 35 TV serials, besides 9 feature films till date in a span of 25 years.
What difference did you find between directing films and TV serials?
There is a lot of pressure when you set out to direct a TV serial. There is also a limit to the time that you take to complete an episode of a serial, whereas films lend you the luxury of time to complete them leisurely at your own pace.
Which are your own five favorite feature films as a director?
They are Aadmi, Jaanejigar, Trump Card, ‘Ab To Banja Sajanwa Hamaar’ (Bhojpuri) produced by Dilip Kumar and Saira Banuji and last but not the least Dadagiri.
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Which are your own five TV serials?
Hawayein, Jodha Akbar, Nagin 2, Chandrakanta and Kavach and Kavach 2
How was the experience of directing a film for Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu?
It’s a dream come true for any director to work with legends like Dilipsaab and Sairaji. He would visit the sets and enjoy the process. Shah Rukh Khan was invited to release the music of the film and the icing on the cake was when Dilipsaab recommended my name to three different producers after the first trial of the film and complimented me for my work.
What are you working on right now?
I am ready for the plunge into the OTT platform and am currently working on scripts for web films as well as web series. Please just wait for some exciting content on the digital platform!