Ketan Mehta is known for framing real-life stories in an unconventional way on the silver screen, but he makes no bones about saying that “reality bites”!
The National award-winning director says filmmakers have to face a lot of hurdles to release a film based on true incidents due to the oversensitive attitude of Indians.
Mehta also shared that objections come on trivial issues as filmmakers are considered as soft targets.
“In our country, people are so sensitive that they get offended easily. Everyone wants an appropriate part of the story and filmmakers are easiest targets. Reality bites in one or the other way. So you just have to prepare for it…. One can take legal advise before starting the film,” Mehta said at a session of Film Bazaar here, adding that the reason for resistance is “facts are stranger than fiction”.
Mehta is a master when it comes to blending in the fictional quotient to a real story for the big screen with films like “Sardar”, “Mangal Pandey: The Rising”, “Rang Rasiya” and his last release “Manjhi: The Mountain Man” in his account.
And bringing the stories alive on the camera has not been an easy transition for him. The research work involved in such kind of a project was not the only worry in Mehta’s head as the rising voices of dissent in the society laid a difficult path for him to tread on.
What kept him going?
He said that the story has to be powerful enough for taking risks. And as far as legal hassles are concerned, Mehta said it’s always advisable that “lawyers and legal personnel become a part of the units”.
Mehta is now making “Rani Laxmi Bai”, a biopic on Rani of Jhansi, one of the leaders of the First Indian War of Independence in 1857, with Kangana Ranaut.
He spoke about his experiences of making biopics while addressing a session named “Re-creating Real Stories– Crossing The Legal Bridge”. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap was also a part of the discussion.
Narrating his legal troubles while making the films, he said: “While making ‘Mangal Pandey’ we had to recreate the character out of the information available to us. When we completed the film, we had 84 cases from all over the India for reasons varying from how can you show him drinking bhang or visiting a brothel.”
“For ‘Rang Rasiya’, even before seeing the film, the family claimed that we were defaming the character of Raja Ravi Varma, and in case of ‘Manjhi’, a story of a poor man from a village of Bihar who broke a mountain for love, we got a legal notice that five to seven people have exclusive right to make a film on his life.”
Controversies are not new to Mehta as several people had raised objections to the portrayal of artist Raja Ravi Varma in “Rang Rasiya” and in “Mangal Pandey: The Rising”, many political parties like Bhartiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party had objected to the characterization of Pandey.
But Mehta is not bogged down by these hiccups as he says the only way out is to continue making “more and more such films” and be prepared to handle the issues as “it is not an impossible task”.
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