(tg) Hansal Mehta is the director of the award winning movie “Shahid”. This film is based on the life of Shahid Azmi, an Indian lawyer and human rights activist, who was assassinated in 2010 in Mumbai. Hansal Mehta was happy to answer Tomal Ganguly’s questions during the Stuttgart Film Festival.
First of all congratulations for the great movie “Shahid”.
Was it hard for you to identify yourself with the topic?
I made the film because I could identify with the topic. This is where I believe very strongly.
So how did you chose this topic actually? It was a real-life production.
I saw this headline in the papers and I knew that somebody called Shahid Azmi existed and I read about that he was killed. In the papers they wrote a little bit about his life and I thought this is an important story. It needs to be told!
And you also showed this story very realistic on the screen…
I wanted to make it as believable as possible.
How did you choose the main actor, Raj Kumar Yadav.
They actually chose themselves…
But did you already know that you wanted to have a specific character for this role in your movie?
Yes. We had a very long casting process with a casting director who did an amazing job.
So your movie ‘Shahid’ is going to be released soon. On which project are you currently working and what are your next ones?
I’m toying with scripts, so there is a political satire. It’s always with some meanings.
So what was your personal highlight in your career so far?
‘Shahid’! I made a film called ‘Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!!’ in 2000. I believe that after that, this is my best film.
So coming back to the festival. How did you like the festival?
It’s very nice. It’s very intimate. I’m finding it difficult to leave tomorrow.
So I hope that you will come back for one of the next festivals then!
Well, I hope so. I spoke to Oliver, the festival director and told him that I will make a film just for the festival!
Wow, that would be really nice for Stuttgart! So as a film director, how would you describe ‘Bollywood’ with only three words?
It’s not Bollywood! (laughs)
And with which word would you describe the Indian film festival here in Stuttgart?
What would you suggest to the upcoming producers who want to join the film business?
It’s important to focus on the script, on the story. And you know, nothing is about making projects. Business comes after content and film making is a content driven business. Producers should never forget that!
Alright, so thank you very much for your time and see you in Stuttgart again!