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My style is my fearlessness: Vishal Bharadwaj

Published Apr 13, 2015, 8:27 pm IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 11:27 am IST
Vishal Bhardwaj lets us in on his take on style, films and awards

In his own words he’s a man of grey shades. Vishal Bhardwaj lets us in on his take on style, films, awards and how you need to keep your gun loaded at all times...

Vishal Bhardwaj is a man of very few words. But ask him to recite his favourite shayari, he’s ever willing to oblige. The man, who has just picked up five National Awards for his film Haider, has been roped as a style speaker by Blender’s Pride. In his talk on style on Saturday evening, Vishal kept the audience hooked with multiple anecdotes from his life, every now and then, punctuated with a shayari.


Style is not the first thing we associate with this filmmaker, dialogue writer, musician, lyricist and singer. He says, while speaking to this correspondent, “When they asked me to speak on style, I was amused. At first I thought they were not serious. But they were really serious. I discouraged them. But then I thought about it. And I have always liked to do new things.” For Vishal, style comes from the heart and not the mind. “If you really taste life, it becomes your style. It is an expression of your inner self. Actors have an external style, which is also fun in its own way. Shah Rukh spreading his arms, Dev Anand nodding his head”

“But for me style comes from the inside. The life you have chosen to live, the journey you have gone through will spell your style. And that comes so naturally to you. My style is my fearlessness,” he says. “The kind of person you are always gets reflected in your films. Actors hide behind characters, but a director always reveals himself,” he adds.

Clothes don’t have much to do with style, he feels. “They are only meant to hide your nakedness. I wear only black and white now. But that’s also because as a person, I am grey,” he says with a laugh. Vishal also says that he had wasted 20 minutes every day for several years just standing in front of his wardrobe, deciding what shirt to team with which pair of trousers. “I don’t think anybody takes us as seriously as we take ourselves, standing in front of a mirror. So I decided to spend those 20 minutes in a better manner,” he adds.

Vishal doesn’t want to talk about the controversy that followed his multiple National Award victory, after Anupam Kher made some strong statements against him. “I made what I had to make, they said what I had to say. I am not on Facebook or Twitter. Whatever I hear, I do from my friends. When I meet Kher saab, we meet cordially,” he says. The filmmaker also doesn’t bear any grudges against the censor board any longer. Not too long ago he had said that the board was behaving like Taliban. “The ministry has clarified that they are not going to ban those words. So now I think they are back to behaving like Indians,” he says with a snigger.

His films may have their own special audience but Vishal says he makes films for himself. “I have never made films for the masses, I make films for myself. When I see it, I shouldn’t feel ashamed. I don’t want to impose my film on anyone, saying I made it for you. Like-minded people will come and watch,” he says. He feels that the film industry is doing some interesting work. “It’s nice how Lunchbox and Happy New Year and Aankhon Dekhi can co-exist in the same industry,” he says.

He may not have worked with a reigning superstar yet, but he says he has nothing against working with stars. “It has not worked out yet but I don’t see them as stars, I see them as human beings, as actors. I am the biggest star. I have worked with Saif in Omkara and Shahid in Kaminey and of course Haider. I like to reinvent actors, change their image. I remember when Saif refused to go bald for Omkara, I realised men love their hair more than women,” he says.

While Haider continues to bring him awards in the film industry, attending award functions is something Vishal is allergic to. And he minces no words while saying, “Award functions are the most boring thing in the world, sitting there for five to six hours. The television audience is lucky to see the two-hour version. I’d prefer not getting an award than attend these award functions.” Besides award functions, the two other things that bore him the most are cricket and film business talks. Ask him how important is commercial return for him and he says, “The film should bring back the producer’s money with interest, that’s all.”

Many fans and friends are suggesting that he make something light-hearted now. He says with a smile, “Yes, I will make some comedies.” But no getting away from the Bard for him. “Maybe I will take one of Shakespeare’s comedies this time,” he adds. His bond with Gulzar is known to all. But ask him to talk about it and he says, “It’s a relationship beyond words.” However, he does share an anecdote. “When I was struggling really hard in my initial days, Gulzar saab said to me, ‘opportunity comes to everybody, but it depends on how ready you are to make use of it. He told me that you should keep your gun loaded. Even if in the middle of the night if you are woken up and your target is shown to you, then you should pick up your gun and shoot. At that time if you look for your bullet or your gun, by the time you load it, the opportunity will pass. That mantra remained with me. I was waiting for an opportunity and it came in a small way for me. I got a chance to replace the composer for Jungle Book (TV show). I was told to make the song and record it in a few hours, as it had to go the next day. And I was ready. I did it and that’s how I got my first success with the song Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai. But years later I had to become a director because I had stopped getting work as music composer. So if I had to compose, I had to make my own film.”