Mahesh Bhatt, director, writer, social activist, prominent bollywood personality was in Manipal today (28th September) as a speaker in an Inspirational Talk series presented by Tehelka group. He walked in to applause of the gathering, largely university students. His first reaction after he got on to stage was that film personalities are ‘applaud junkies’ and asked the audience to give another round of applause for reaching a ‘high’ all over again.
After his candid talks, about his movie making, his Parveen Babi connection, his tryst with spiritualism, which lasted for about twenty minutes, the floor was open to questions and answers. So I asked him a question and I shall paraphrase it, for I had practiced the question on the spot for about 4 or 5 times. “Mr. Bhatt, having grown up with the movies of 90’s, we would have liked you to continue direction. However I would like to ask you how do you draw a fine line between 3 things – freedom of expression which you call ‘singing your song’, responsibility towards the society and of which you are often accused, sensationalism?”
There was a muffled applause from the audience on the question, for, I assume, many would have liked to rephrase it as why did you have to choose Sunny Leone over anyone else? Mahesh Bhatt’s reply was ‘I plead guilty as charged’ to the last part of the question. He went on to say that filmmakers are ‘businessmen’. He said he is there to cater to the ‘elementary needs’ of humans.
He directed his answer at me that he knew I would watch Jism 3 over Saaransh. At that point I wished to convey him that I have Saaransh saved on my hard disk and have not made an effort to even watch Jism 3, but that would have been futile. Futile for the fact that his answer gave an insight into what the matter of the man was. There in front was a man who in the name of freedom of expression, and he admitted in his answer is there to ‘titillate’.
The use of such unfortunate words sadly didn’t speak highly of the person who was present to infuse inspiration into young minds. Just telling that do what your mind says, do what you feel like, citing one’s own examples of tumultuous relations and controversial art form is no inspiration according to me. That nothing interested him as director after turned 50, or as he said he had made ‘enough money’ just shows the depth or the passion of true pursuit of a art by a person.
Mahesh Bhatt it appears lives off sensationalism. That he gets invited to talk shows, news, whenever there is a controversy suggests that he makes hay when controversies shine. It perhaps applies to most TV personalities we see who pop up when controversies rage. As a teacher I would give a big zero for my question to Mahesh Bhatt.