We don’t capitalise on terror: Director Apoorva Lakhia (Interview)

December 1st, 2008 - 10:04 am ICT by IANS  

Ram Gopal VarmaMumbai, Dec 1 (IANS) An SMS doing the rounds in Mumbai appeals to directors like Mahesh Bhatt, Ram Gopal Varma, Sanjay Gupta and Apoorva Lakhia not to insult Mumbaikars by planning a ‘realistic’ film glorifying and capitalising on the Mumbai terror attacks. But Lakhia feels it is unfair to accuse filmmakers of taking advantage of any situation.”As filmmakers, we’re storytellers and our morality is never misplaced. In no film on terrorism do the perpetrators get away with it. Even Abhishek Bachchan was killed in ‘Sarkar Raj’. It’s not fair to blame us of capitalising,” Lakhia told IANS in an interview.

“We’ve had some great films on 9/11. You see a similar thing happening with the Mumbai terror strike?” she was asked.

“It’s too early to think about films. People want to be as detached from this nightmare as possible. We’ve lost some powerful security personnel. It’s an embarrassment and tragedy for Mumbai. It’s a nightmare, but it’s reality,” said Lakhia, who made the hit film “Shootout At Lokhandwala”.

Excerpts:

Q: What do you have to say to the accusation that filmmakers like you have capitalised on terrorism?

A: Tempers are running high. People are angry. Mumbaikars are sick of facing calamities. How much more? Mumbai is the city of opportunity. Suddenly it’s a place where no one is safe. As filmmakers, we’re storytellers and our morality is never misplaced. In no film on terrorism do the perpetrators get away with it. Even Abhishek Bachchan was killed in “Sarkar Raj”. It’s not fair to blame us for capitalising.

Q: Filmmakers like Neeraj Pandey and Nishikant Kamat refuse to talk on issues of terrorism that they’ve so delicately handled in their films?

A: They’re probably in a state of shock. Speaking for myself, I’m responsible for the work that I do. Terrorism is an extremely low and sickening form of self-assertion. It’s disgusting.

Q: You made “Shootout At Lokhandwala” about the real 1991 shootout between cops and gangsters holed up in a building in Lokhandwala. Déjà vu?

A: Not really. That was just one apartment building. It was shocking enough for Mumbai for something like that to happen in broad daylight. But this is so advanced, you can’t even begin to wonder about the planning that must have gone into the attack…the terrorists are young boys, who can easily blend into Mumbai. And to enter our city on rubber dinghies…. How did they plan all this? It’s a lesson for all of us.

It’s way too advanced to be compared with the Lokhandwala shootout. Those were local goons holed up and flushed out in a day. This is unreal. It’s a wake-up call for every governmental organisation in the city. It’s taken terrorism to another level. We’re in the international news. Nowhere in the world has this kind of attack lasted for more than 40 hours. After 9/11, this is the most shocking terrorist attack.

Today they’re willing to die for their subverted cause. They come prepared to let the day of the attack be the last day of their lives. No right-thinking person goes into any mission thinking it’s the last day of his life.

Q: You’ve a home in New York - no attack similar to 9/11 happened there after 9/11. We continue to have them periodically?

A: I feel we’ve rogue states as border countries. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka… so many regions where people can infiltrate into our country. And they all look like us. But in America outsiders can easily be identified. A major problem is we’re unable to penetrate our home-grown terror cells. In America, they go door-to-door to check out suspects. We don’t have suspects because everyone from India and its neighbouring countries look the same. So the terrorist could easily be your nextdoor neighbour. However, let me add that if this (the Taj/Oberoi siege) happened in a posh US hotel, they wouldn’t have managed any better.

Q: Why?

A: There are 900-1,000 rooms in a hotel. You’ve no idea where and who the terrorists and the hostages are. High-ranking officers were killed. So it’s unfair to say the situation would’ve been tackled better. The current crisis will put our countries on red alert. India should take help of other countries.

Q: We’ve had some great films on 9/11. You see a similar thing happening with the Mumbai terror strike?

A: It’s too early to think about films. People want to be as detached from this nightmare as possible. We’ve lost some powerful security personnel. It’s an embarrassment and tragedy for Mumbai. It’s a nightmare, but it’s reality.

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