Hyder Kazmi, who fought with Aamir Khan for his title Kajri and made him change it to Ghajini and refused to change the title of his film from Jihad to Love Jihad when IMPPA ordered him to because Anurag Kashyap had titled his film Jihad tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that he is now ready with his ambitious film called Jihad which is based on international militancy and terrorism.
How did you become a part of Bollywood?
To begin with, I was working in plays when I was in Delhi. It was when I was doing a play that Ashok Bhushan , who had directed Painter Babu and is the brother in law of Manoj Kumar spotted me, came over backstage and asked me to come to Bombay and meet Manoj Kumar as he was making a serial called Bharat Ke Shaheed.
And did you leave Delhi and rush to Mumbai to bag the role of Khudiram ?
No. In the contrary, I told him that I was not in a position to afford to take a flight to Mumbai and since I looked like a Bengali guy, he sweetly organized to send me a return flight ticket to Mumbai. However, after I reached Mumbai, I could not meet Manojsaab as he was very busy with various activities and every day for three days I used to wait for him in his office. Ultimately I told Ashok Bhushan that I had a play in Delhi and had to rush back since Manojji didn’t get time to meet me. However, Manojji met me the very next day and zeroed in on me for the role of Khudiram in his serial Bharat Ke Shaheed. Though I did not stay back in Mumbai after I did the serial and went back to Delhi, the itch to act in serials and films was there thanks to my meeting Manojsaab and I came back after a year and did a serial called Alif Laila.
Was Manoj Kumar a tough task master?
He was but when he saw that I was capable of giving a 15 minute one shot for the episode Main Khudiram Hoon of Bharat Ke Shaheed, he was floored and embraced me and called me his Dilip Kumar. Though he was strict, he relaxed his rules and allowed me to smoke when I was dubbing for the serial because I told Ashok Bhushan specifically that I would not be able to build up my emotions if I did not smoke when I was dubbing.
How did you trek in films start?
I felt I was going nowhere as a marketing executive with a trade weekly and decided to branch on my own as a producer especially since I was not getting any offers to act in films. I launched Path with my friend Shivram as the director though I did not have funds. My friends pooled in money and I made Path on a budget of Rs 2 Crore. It was a film based on our research on the underworld in Mumbai. Raju Karia was the PR person and actors like Sharad Kapoor, Sadhu Meher, Govind Namdev, Nirmal Pandey, Mukesh Tiwari etc co-operated with me and did my film just for peanuts which proved to be a runaway hit. I played the lead in it.
After Path, you set out to make a film called Bobby.
Yes. I cast a new girl called Mona Lisa opposite me and made Bobby with Rakesh Parmar who had directed the serial Tara as the director. Dilip Kumar came to cut the negative for my film for the first time. It too proved to be a big hit and I arrived in Bollywood though in a small way. My film Bobby was a sexy film but not a C grade film. Mona Lisa looked more beautiful than even Dimple in my film which was made 30 years after Dimple had made her debut with Bobby for Raj Kapoor
Your film Bobby was followed by Kajri.
Yes, I made Kajri but Aamir Khan had already launched his film Ghajini with my title Kajri when Chiranjeevi had come to Mumbai for the mahurat, I decided to fight with Aamir in the court for the title because I am an actor cum producer who believes in having unique titles like Patth, Bobby and Kajri. I also won the title when the court asked him change the title of his film. He changed the title of his film with Asin to Ghajini. I made my film Kajri with my assistant as my leading lady.
You have played the leading man in all films made by you. Were you not ready to do films for other producers?
I do not seek work. I was ready to play the hero in all films but ‘outside’ producers did not want to cast me as the hero but offered me only character roles and I steadfastly turned them all down. I turned down an offer to play the younger brother of Mithun Chakraborty. If I wanted, I could have done hundreds of films as a character artiste but I did not want to end up as a character artiste. I am a writer cum producer cum actor cum director like Manoj Kumar whose self-confessed chela I am.
You are now ready with your next film Jihaad. Tell me something about the film?
I am a lazy filmmaker who does not make films for money. Jihaad, which is my nine year old dream, is based on an international issue of terrorism and militancy. I dwell at length on what prompts a layman to take a gun in his hand, I am keen on doing justice to my subject and am not worried whether Pakistan is annoyed when my film is released. Mine is a research based film on the Kupwara episode, culled out from a real life incident, when some militants entered Kashmir, threw out all the males and set out to rape the poor women. It is sad if Sanjay Lela Bhansali has changed history and made Padmavat based on his own imagination but I have stuck to history and not made any changes in it as a filmmaker.
You had to wage a battle with IMPPA to get title Jihaad!
Yes. When I announced my title as Jihaad, I was told by IMPPA that Anurag Kashyap had already registered a title like Love Jihaad and I cannot name my film as Jihaad. I won the title and made the film Jihaad with Rakesh Parmar as the director as I could not handle both production as well as direction besides acting.
Your film Jihaad does not boasts of a star cast!
Cinema today has changed by leaps and bounds. Even an Amitabh Bachchan who used to fight 50 goons and emerge victorious in the 70’s and 80’s had to do a film like Paa in which he had reinvented himself completely. If I take a known actor in my film, my film will only flop. I wanted to be authentic to my subject and shot it in virginal locales like Naghbal and Doodhganga, Chararesharif etc on a budget of 1.80 cr using real military guys as well as local artistes for whom I conducted a workshop for six months. If I had cast a Khan, Bachchan or a Kapoor, it would have only gone downhill. I want to make intelligent films for the International arenas. Jihaad has already won rave reviews at several film festivals abroad.
You are often compared to actors like Nana Patekar and Irrfan Khan.
I feel proud and elated that though I am just a junior, I am compared to actors like Nana and Irrfan who are damn good. I admire Nanaji as an actor and have worked with Irrfan in Nitish Bharadwaj’s serial Geeta Rahasya in which he played the part of Kansmama and I played the role of Udhav.
What next, after Jihaad?
My next after Jihaad will be Draupadi. I want to leave a mark in the history of films by making ten or twelve good films. Draupadi is not about the disrobing of Draupadi or her cheer haran. It is about how the soul of Draupadi is getting stripped. I plan to cast Sunny Leone in it in the title role because I feel that she suits the role to the T. It is not sleazy or sexy film. It will not show even an inch of Sunny Leone’s body but drape her in a sari from top to toe.