I make films on subjects that give me sleepless nights: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Exactly a year back, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had shifted to his small village in Maharashtra before the lockdown was announced. Luckily, he had his writing material and was with his family. Cut off from newspapers for five months, Mehra requested the post office for an Internet connection and started working on his film ‘Toofan’, starring Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur and Paresh Rawal, which will premiere on Amazon Prime soon.

“So, in a way, the lockdown was liberating for me. I was working on it for 20 hours in a day without any disturbances. We managed to establish an editing line with one of my editors, and the same with sound. This period also gave me space and time to finish other scripts,” Mehra told IANS.

Talking about the boxing sports drama (‘Toofan’), the director says that it is his second film on the streets of Mumbai, and he is expecting a positive response from the audience. “It is a lovely story carried by a strong voice. Though it involved a lot of hard work, it was real fun working on it. Every moment on the set was enjoyable. I hope this feeling can be transferred to the audiences.”

For Mehra, who debuted with the movie ‘Aks’ in 2001 and made the smash hit ‘Rang De Basanti’ in 2006, the fact that the latter still resounds and remains relevant in contemporary times is nothing short of tragedy. “Yes, I am not really happy that its relevant. The film tackled multiple issues including corruption, tolerance towards each other, the idea of India — which I feel is not an abstract term but all about people. All these issues still remain. The many gaps have not filled, sadly,” said the director of ‘Delhi-6’ and ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’.

The filmmaker, who spoke during Zee Live’s ‘Arth: The Cultural Fest’ on March 19, and has explored diverse genres says that he is always excited about what he is going to tackle next. “There are so many things, I cannot even tell you. After finishing ‘Toofaan’, I am once again on the crossroads. There are multiple subjects that I have been working on for years. So much is flying around, not just in India but globally as well.”

He added, “So do you go with something which is very contemporary in today’s time or back to mythology and see if it is relevant for today? Now let’s not forget that too has been distorted. One can also work on a futuristic movie — maybe look at a utopian future which is a new happy society, and where women will be safe. And all these questions trouble me constantly.”

Ask him if there is a method to how he chooses his subjects, and he says, “Absolutely. Whatever gives me sleepless nights… Now we all want to have a peaceful sleep, no? Doesn’t it make sense that you get over with what is making you stay awake.”

While Amazon will be taking ‘Toofan’ to over 240 countries and territories, Mehra does admit that there is a flip side to OTT platforms too. “There is always a price to pay for gain. The experience and impact of the big screen is unmatched. However, I feel that in these unpredictable times owing to the pandemic, it was the right decision to take on our part.”