The last interview of legendary actor Om Puri done just after he finished dubbing for the film, Lashtam Pashtam
Interviewer: Manav Bhalla, Director
How was your experience of working on Lashtam Pashtam ?
I enjoyed working with Manav; he is very jovial and very sweet. I have many sweet memories of making this film. My role in the film is very good. The work happened smoothly without any hurdles, I have done my dubbing and now I am waiting to watch it. I am really happy with my performance in the film, I know I am praising myself but ab sach hai toh kya kare (smiles.)
Tell us something about your character ?
I play a Pakistani taxi driver. An Indian who is lost in Pakistan and wishes to go to Islamabad, which is burning due to bomb blasts, asks my character to take him there. The taxi driver (Om Puri) refuses him but the youngster is so desperate that anyhow he has to go to Islamabad. Though that youngster is an Indian, the taxi driver decides to help him despite knowing that there is lot of risk. They halt in between and he makes the youngster eat but youngster starts doubting the driver’s loyalty that he might have an evil plan at the back of his mind. Eventually in the end, the young Indian fellow is so grateful to this taxi driver, as he opens his eyes by making him understand the importance of a relationship.
What message would you want to give to the audience through your character in the film ?
My character itself is giving out a message. Manav has written it in such a way that tells people that hatred should end as it has no specific reason and we are fighting forcefully. We are all humans and we have stayed together for years. Mughal rulers stayed here for almost 600 years. Before independence, we all stayed together, we have learned from all etiquettes (tehzeeb). Yes there have been some issues but like there is a dialog in the film that issues happen at home also, amongst Hindu brothers also and also amongst the relatives.
There is another line in the film where this driver says that my father is been buried in your Lucknow and I wish to go there and aur mai unki kabar ke sajde pe baithu. This is actually true, I have been to Pakistan 6 times and people come to me and say that their fathers are been buried in various states in India. It’s a biggest tragedy that in a short span of time, more then 10 lakh people died (during Partition). When the Partition happened, brothers thought that let one brother stay this side and other on the other side and this won’t change much as they can anytime come on each other’s side. But they never thought the situation would become so bad. So this partition was the partition of relationships, emotions and feelings and it’s a really painful thing.
I pray to God that this film releases smoothly and that people watch it so that they get an understanding through this film, because unfortunately people have to reminded of this again and again- that we must live and let live as we have sacrificed a lot during the Partition.
How was your experience of working with a completely new team, with a debutant director and new actors ?
Well I didn’t know that it’s a new team, if I would have been aware about it, then I might have not taken up the project (laughed). I never felt that it’s a new team. You guys studied well, learned everything before starting the film; aisehi thodi aakar camera pakde aur chal diye!
Any advice for new film maker as its very difficult to get in and survive in the industry ?
For small films, there are more difficulties because in today’s time the rules for publicity have been made in such a way that a small film cannot afford it. So I request people who will see this interview that whenever you read something about small films or hear about them, please go and watch because they can’t make noises from three month before the release date, neither can they have a lot of advertisements on TV. Nor can afford big hoardings. In the case of a big film with big stars as per current trends, they get a release in 5000 – 6000 screens collectively because buzz is created through lot of publicity, and the film remains houseful for at least 4 days. After that if film does well then it’s like cherry on the cake and if people don’t like the film then at least the film manage to extract its expenses in those 4 days, which is difficult for a small film. So it’s very important for a small film to convince people to come and watch it by making them understand that it’s a good film, a good story.
Lastly I would say, you (Manav) shouldn’t stop making films. I don’t mean to say that other directors don’t make good films with big actors, but I believe showing realistic films is also important.