Where are you in your journey right now?
Well, for one, I haven’t made enough films (chuckles). But I’m working on the one I want to make on Bruce Lee’s life. I’m fascinated by a martial artist and a superstar who felt that fighting was an act of supreme intimacy, of giving in. Lee was a true philosopher.
What is the latest on Paani? Will it ever be made?
It is a film more relevant than ever because it talks about how 10 per cent of people control 90 per cent of resources. It is a deeply political film, which I’ve been trying to make for years. I’m going to be in India soon and pick up the threads.
Are you worried about censorship? You’ve had a long tryst with it during the time of Bandit Queen.
Oh my god, Bandit Queen was such a struggle! We fought for two years. We went to the Supreme Court, and finally it released. But I see filmmakers still fighting against censorship today, like poor Sanjay (Leela Bhansali) for his Padmavati. He is not a political filmmaker. He just took a myth and thought he would make his kind of film. But something like Lipstick Under My Burkha is a political film. The director fought for it. You need to fight.
Do you think you would be able to make Bandit Queen today?
Going by the political mileu in India today, I would do it in a different way. Bandit Queen was a film against the caste system. It was also a film about rape, and how it is used as an act of power. I wanted to get away from the idea that rape was sexual. When we were banned, I told the SC that there is a difference between nudity and nakedness. Phoolan (Devi) was not nude. She was naked. You take away the voyeurism, and you are left with just that — nakedness.
There’s been talk about remaking Mr India…
I’m not the same person I was 30 years ago. I’d rather do something I haven’t done before, something new.