It is an understatement that mainstream Hindi cinema is eating up the market for independent content, says actor-filmmaker Rajat Kapoor. Rajat, who balances his professional life by working in Bollywood films as well as independent cinema, also pointed out that the problem is spread across the world and not merely limited to India. Asked if Bollywood is biting into space for independent cinema, Rajat told IANS over the phone from Mumbai: “Eating up is an understatement. Mainstream cinema is the only thing we watch in the country — like it or not.”
Rajat, whose latest release is a crowd-funded film titled Mantra, added, “And again (it is) not only in this country but the world over. I was talking to somebody and saying that a film like a stupid superhero film will make 600 billion dollars while a (Martin) Scorsese film like Silence has hardly been released anywhere in the world.”
The actor-filmmaker, who is as active in the theatre world and in filmdom, asserts what people want to watch will always be popcorn entertainment. “So it is not an Indian problem. It is the world over… Like Bollywood has taken over independent cinema, Hollywood has taken over all the cinemas of the world. Even European art cinema is dying because Hollywood has just completely taken over every screen space.”
Born and brought up in Delhi, Rajat started his career in theatre and slowly moved into cinema. He began his acting with the film Khayal Gatha in 1989, followed by his first 26-minute documentary Tarana, which he directed. His acting projects, both mainstream and non-commercial, have found appreciation — especially his performances in Phas Gaye Re Obama, Bheja Fry, Monsoon Wedding, Dil Chahta Hai and Kapoor & Sons.
He has been earning plaudits for his work as a director too. In 2003, Rajat made a film named Raghu Romeo, which bagged a National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.
Kapoor’s 2013 directorial Ankhon Dekhi, a quirky drama about a character named Raje Bauji, played by Sanjay Mishra, was highly appreciated. His other directorial ventures, including Mithya and Mixed Doubles, got critical acclaim too. Rajat has different ideologies while picking projects as an actor and as a director. “You don’t find a balance. You do what you do and they do what they do. As an actor, I do things differently of what I do as a director,” said Rajat, who is waiting for funds to bring his three pending scripts to reality.
There are debates going on about the working of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC). And Rajat also wonders why should there be a body to ‘control what we watch’. “Censor thing is a completely different ball game. I think it is a little bizarre in this day and age of the internet when everything is available to everyone anywhere, so why should one body try and control what you watch and how you watch it,” said the Corporate star.
Rajat, who was also seen in FilterCopy’s video titled “If parents behaved like us”, produced by Pocket Aces, is happy that “the internet has brought some kind of accessibility to things”. But also feels it is a tricky zone to tread on. “Whether it is good or bad — it is always a difficult and tricky question. I don’t know if it is good or bad. Freedom of speech is also translating freedom of abuse to anybody — now is that good or bad,” he said, adding that “you have your thoughts and I have mine. We can absolutely be on different wavelengths, but people must respect each other and each other’s views. That’s the idea of freedom of speech but social media sometimes ends up in a war game.”