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Rajkumar Santoshi is all set for his directorial comeback this Republic Day after 9 years with Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh. The film features Deepak Antani as Mahatma Gandhi and Chinmay Mandlekar as Nathuram Godse. It also marks the acting debut of the filmmaker’s daughter Tanisha Santoshi alongside Anuj Saini. Before the film’s release, Rajkumar Santoshi got into an exclusive conversation with Bollywood Bubble where he opened up about the controversial subject of his film, getting back on a film set and directing his daughter. Excerpts from the interview:
Gandhi ji is one person who is loved and respected by the nation. To tell a story about someone who went against him, was there any apprehension ever about it?
“There has been a lot written and portrayed on screen about Gandhi ji. But unfortunately, not much has been written about Godse and no film has been ever made about him. Yes, a majority of people have respect for Gandhi ji, but there are many people who don’t align with his principles and what he did. I always feel that he has gone out of the way to get our country’s freedom and his contribution cannot be neglected. I feel upset when people criticise that. But similarly, a lot is said about Godse too, with some even calling him a terrorist and it is a very harsh word. I feel that some injustice was done to him too. The court did issue a verdict in which they spoke about why he did, what he did and what led to it, so it is the right of that story to reach people. But it was silenced.”
“A few years ago only it was allowed to be published as a story. But by then, the image of him as a monster had already been built. We live in a country where people worship Lord Ram, but there is a section that worships Raavan too. So, I believe that everyone in this country has a right to present their views. Godse didn’t get that opportunity. Even Gandhi ji didn’t get to justify himself for all the things he was blamed for. So, through this story, we have brought them face to face so that they can both put their views and explanations forward. It will help people understand both of them better.”
The film marks your directorial comeback after 9 years. But during this time, between Phata Poster Nikla Hero and Gandhi Godse, did you receive a push from the industry too to get back?
“Industry ko kahaan fursat hai ki kisi ko dhund ke kisi ko bulaya jaye. (Where does the industry have time to find someone and call them back). Industry is busy sorting out their own respective problems. Even I was thinking how could I contribute to the industry during this while. I have always believed that content is the king to make a film. Stars come after that. They help to expand the reach of your story. A popular face makes it easier for me to take my story to more people. It also helps in financial recovery as stars guarantee a certain fan following who will come to the theatres. But what we are making is more important. So, I did work on certain projects like Battle Of Saragarhi, but it just didn’t pan out.”
You got to direct your daughter in this film as well. Was it a little overwhelming seeing her growth?
“Firstly, I did not make this film for my daughter. This story is about Gandhi and Godse. When we were working out the story, there was a love story in it of a young couple. So, when we were casting for it, my casting director brought Anuj Saini to me. I found him fitting the part and very sincere. During this while, my daughter Tanisha asked me to have her audition for the role of Sushma. She has done a filmmaking course as she wants to be a director, but maybe she might have had this desire to act as well. Thus when she heard the story while the narrations were happening in the house, she asked me to have her give a try at auditions. Initially, I was a bit hesitant about mixing work and emotions, but she was adamant about wanting a chance to prove herself. So, seeing her enthusiasm, I thought let’s give her a try.”
“When she came on set, I was a bit emotional, but I didn’t let it affect my work. I treated her like any other artist. I was rather more strict with her and would scream at her in front of people. But she worked really hard on the film. It wasn’t like I made this film as a launch vehicle for her. I am happy about the fact that she is doing a film which she is a part of and her being my daughter is the second thing. That’s what I always wanted for her. Her qualification is not being the daughter of Rajkumar Santoshi, it is her being a hard working, honest and sincere artist. And this film will make that image of her. If her thinking and choice of scripts is right, she will make a path of her own.”
What do you want to say to the audience who might have a presumption about the film’s subject?
“I would like to appeal to people not to form an opinion without seeing the film. People will say things and hurl blames, but I am not associated to any party and this is not a propaganda film. I have made an honest film and if you see my track record, I have done this film as earnestly. So, watch the film and if you have any complaints from me, then tell me those too. Films are my bread and butter but when I made The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, I felt that it was a selfless service I provided to the society through my film. Similarly, I haven’t made Gandhi Godse as a job, it is also a service from my side as a citizen. I am putting this story forward so that people understand both these people better.”