When you live in a place like Mumbai it is next to impossible not to meet people who leave an impact. You will meet people who irritate and depress you and then you meet people who are absolute delights and amaze you with their passion. I have met both types. And when I met Amole Gupte before the release of Taare Zameen Par, in my quest as a reporter for something ‘juicy’, I realized that its better I change my quest! This is a person who was far to passionate to try and scandalize!
My first meeting with him was aimed at getting him to speak against Aamir Khan but he simply refused. He said whatever had to be written was already out there against his will and he would just like to keep mum, to not hurt the film anymore. “I would not like to hurt my baby anymore,” he told me back then. By baby he was referring to his film, and that despite the fact that he was no more being credited as the director of the film. Aamir Khan had taken over the directorial reigns. Amole and I chatted for an hour as he smoked his cigarettes.
Over the chat I realized that the filmmaking was not his ultimate aim. He was making a film just trying to bring out problems that he has come across over the time. The man and his wife and editor Deepa Bhatia has been working with children for almost 20 years. “All films that I make hence will be about children,” he told me then.
Three years since then when I met him recently at a press conference for Phas Gaya Re Obama, a satirical film where he plays a minister, I had to ask him about updates on his next film. He has been working on film called Stanley Ka Dabba. The film’s cast is primarily children. And unlike others who shoot at a stretch Amole decided to bend his schedule for his cast. “Children need to stay to study and also spend time with their parents. For my selfish purpose I would never make them sacrifice on these. So all children I shot with went to school from Monday to Friday and spend Sundays with their parents. I shot only on Saturdays,” reveals Amole. And that stretched his shooting schedule alone to almost a year. “The film is now into postproduction and we should be able to release it next summer,” he adds. That’s almost two years since he started shooting! I assume that’s good enough an example to showcase passion. And if the writing of Taare Zameen Par is anything to go by Stanley Ka Dabba should be another heart rending story.
In the meantime Amole continues to act in films and teach in college to keep his finances going. Though he is best known for his role in Kaminey, he has been an actor for more than two decades. He has been a part of films like Mirch Masala and Holi is smaller roles and Phas Gaye Re Obama (releasing December 3) promises another class act from him. Here’s a human being in the city for stars, unmoved and undistracted from his vision – Amole Gupte.
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