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Mahesh Bhatt on turning 60

Last updated on: September 24, 2009 

Mahesh Bhatt: Living life on my terms

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Mahesh Bhatt turned 60 on Sunday, September 20. But the filmmaker doesn't like to make a big deal out of birthdays.

"I don't believe in birthdays. It's just a day in my life," he shrugs.

Age obviously is really just a number for Bhatt. He still knows the pulse of the young audience well. Listen to the music from his upcoming production, Tum Mile, for proof. The songs rock and are riding up the charts.

He spoke to rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf and revealed what keeps him young at a time when most of his contemporaries seem to have lost their touch.

At 60, you can still connect with audiences who get younger every week. How do you do it?

You have to reinvent yourself continuously, particularly in this business. You have to let go of your past certainties.

The surest recipe of failure is to keep building on your past successes.

If you think yesterday's success will see you through tomorrow, forget it.

You have to demolish old models and arrive at new formulae. You have to live in the real world.


Image: Mahesh Bhatt

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'The dreams of young India have changed'

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Other filmmakers your age don't seem to be able to connect with younger audiences any more.

The apathy of the Indian filmmaker makes him disconnected. You have a lot of surface dazzle, cinematic razzmatazz, but you are disconnected from Indian-ness. But that does not mean you don't touch India of bygone days.

The moral references and dreams of young India under 25 have changed. Their definition of love has changed.

Today, it is love at first sight and break up at first fight. It's very easy to fall in love these days, but very difficult to stay in love.

Why? Because we are living in an age driven by instant gratification -- instant coffee, instant entertainment, Twitter, Facebook, connect now. Everything now.

The romance of sending a postcard and traveling days to reach your beloved has gone. Now, youngsters send SMSes. We are in different times, so we have to make products for this generation.

When did you realise times had changed and that you needed to reinvent yourself?

I did that in the early 1990s. I junked my Saaransh and Arth models to make Aashiqui and Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin.

Then I reinvented myself to make Jism and Murder in the early 2000s. People wondered what had happened to the Mahesh Bhatt who had made Arth and Saaransh. They said he has become depraved and has deteriorated.

No, I was reinventing myself. I knew India had changed. Youngsters embraced these products.


Image: A scene from Aashiqui

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'Listen to the young and they will teach you'

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Even your brother and business partner Mukesh Bhatt did not share your vision of working with newcomers and making such films initially.

Yes. He was frightened when I decided to take this dangerous route away leaning on stars. But I told him that we have to be self-sufficient no matter how shaky our feet are.

That is the difference between a company that leans on a star and a company that is a star in its own right.

How do you touch base with today's youth?

I ask youngsters what they want, and how they respond to situations. You have to listen. You see, we talk all the time.

We must listen to the youngsters and they will teach you.

Are these the words of your guru U G Krishnamurthy?

UG has been the breath and blood of my life. I am what I am because of my long and intense association with him.


Image: Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt

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'I have exuberance that will shame an 18-year-old boy'

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Any regrets when you look back at your career?

No regrets. If I can relive my life, I will do the same things.

What more can I ask for? I am living life on my own terms. I am producing (films), creating and writing. I have exuberance that will shame an 18-year-old boy.

You've given hits but never blockbusters or iconic films.

To make a Jannat or Raaz is no less an achievement. Name one person who works without stars. There's nobody.

I don't know why people don't want to lean on their own strengths. I feel liberated when I get up in the morning and walk on my own feet.


Image: Emraan Hashmi, Bhatt's nephew and lead in many of his recent films

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'I don't need friends. The audience is my friend'

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Who are your friends in the film industry?

I don't need friends. The audience is my friend.

Did you celebrate your 60th birthday?

I don't celebrate birthdays. I worked on my book; I'm hoping to complete it this year.

What can we expect from your next film Tum Mile?

The film is based on 26/7 when Mumbai was caught in the floods. It is about young people, who fall in love easily, but stay in love with great difficulty.

It also says that we must not waste time patching up because life will not wait forever.

It was difficult to work in water, but the actors -- Emraan Hashmi and Soha Ali Khan -- were committed.

Had it not been for director Kunal Deshmukh, this film would not have come out well. Pritam has composed great songs.


Image: A scene from Tum Mile, Bhatt's new film

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