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Could have made Munnabhai 3, 4, 5 ... and be a multi-millionaire: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Could have made Munnabhai 3, 4, 5 ... and be a multi-millionaire: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
New Delhi, Films should serve as a catalyst of change and not a business model, believes filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra as he returns to the big screen after three years with "12th Fail", a story of ambition, dedication and overcoming setbacks. The ace director, known for films such as "Khamosh", "Parinda", "1942: A Love Story" and "Mission Kashmir", said money has never dictated his creative decisions.

"My job as an artist or a filmmaker is to make the world slightly better than what it was when I came. So, if I can make a film that can make a slight difference to people's lives, it inspires me.

"Money has never driven me. I could have made 'Munnabhai' 3, 4, 5, 6... and be a multi-millionaire, which I'm not. I chose to make '12th Fail', with Vikrant Massey," Chopra told PTI in an interview here.

Not only his directorial efforts, the 71-year-old said he makes sure even his production ventures, which include acclaimed titles such as "Munna Bhai" franchise, "3 Idiots" and "Parineeta", have something important to convey.

"In 'Parinda', I talked about violence. '1942' was about patriotism and 'Mission Kashmir' was about religious divide.... In all my films, it is important that they say something," he added.

"12th Fail" is based on Anurag Pathak's best-selling novel about the incredible journey of IPS officer Manoj Kumar Sharma and IRS officer Shraddha Joshi. The movie stars Massey in the lead along with Medha Shankar.

Though inspired by Sharma's life, Chopra said "12th Fail" is a story of "each one of us" coming to big cities with aspirations and dreams.

"I started writing this film when I was 66 and now I'm 71. You can't write a film like this in months. It takes years because every character has a story. It's not a biopic. It's each one of us... There is a lot of me and you in the film."

Integral to the movie's storyline is the idea of "restart". As inspirational and motivational it may sound, the concept stemmed from a personal tragedy, said Chopra.

"My brother was the closest person to me in the world, apart from my wife and kids. During the pandemic, when I was developing this film, he was in Maldives. He delayed coming to Mumbai and couldn't survive. It hit me very hard.

"Within a week or so, I realised it is not fair to the people who are around me. I was already in the story and the whole concept of restart took place in my head. It didn't come from a happy place. It came from a tragedy that struck me," the director recalled.

Chopra said somewhere while healing through the personal loss, he realised that life was much like a video game -- "you lose, you press a button and move on".

"I told myself why can't we do that in life. We have setbacks, we fall, and then we lose everything. Life is a game too. The thought is inspirational but not easy. It is about the way you look at life," he added.

Chopra said through "12th Fail", which released on Friday, he wants to address that nothing is impossible to achieve, but if one faces a setback, the goal should always be to "restart".

"When I read about the suicides in Kota and anywhere else. I want to tell those kids.... It's tough, I understand. I lost the man I loved the most in my life. (But) you got to restart. And UPSC is not just one thing, you can explore so much in life."

Apart from Massey, who has established himself as a dependable performer with projects such as "A Death in the Gunj", "Haseen Dillruba" and "Criminal Justice", the film features an impressive supporting cast in Anant V Joshi, Anshumaan Pushkar, Sanjay Bishnoi and Priyanshu Chatterjee.

Chopra said ever since he decided to make a film on the subject, he was sure about casting "real people".

"I didn't want filmy heroes pretending to be these people. Most of the cast are new actors, first time actors or not very famous. But they are real people. I rehearsed with them for one year," the director said, adding that he is currently writing a film for which he would be needing movie stars.

"I will cast a movie star, if it is a movie star role. Like I'm writing a film for which I need big movie stars. I made 'Eklavya' and I wouldn't have made that movie without Mr Bachchan. Every film has its own demand, so to say. '12th Fail' demanded me to be very real."

Produced by Zee Studios, "12th Fail" has been released worldwide in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam.

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