The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On both sides of camera

When Guru Dutt cast himself as the anguished and lonely film director Suresh Sinha in Kagaz Ke Phool, everyone suspected him of indulging in autobiographical vanity. Now at least three new projects are being put together based on the life of Guru Dutt, and one of them would probably star Amitabh Bachchan. This, in addition to the film based on the life of Satyajit Ray that Amitabh has been roped in to play for a future project.

Are film directors the new biographical kick in the celluloid sweepstakes' It would seem so. Going by the number of projects featuring real-life filmmakers in the lead. Years ago, Rajesh Khanna had played Guru Dutt in Johnny Bakshi’s Khudaai. It was a reel-life replay of the Guru Dutt-Geeta Dutt-Waheeda Rehman triangle, which hardly anyone saw.

Rahul Roy and Ajay Devgan have played director Mahesh Bhatt in Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee and Zakham. Now Shiney Ajuha is playing Mahesh Bhatt in the Parveen Babi slice of Bhatt’s turbulent life in Mohit Suri’s Woh Lamhe. “It isn’t exactly a bio-pic. But, yes, Woh Lamhe does borrow elements from Bhatt Saab’s life specially his relationship with Parveen Babi. To that extent Shiney is playing the director,” admits Suri.

From one Bhatt to another. Though Vikram Bhatt isn’t related to Mahesh, Vikram too is part of a film where the protagonist is modelled on the director. The film, Ankahee. And the actor, Vikram’s buddy Aftab Shivdasani.

Says Aftab, “It was a huge responsibility playing Vikram on screen. We’re close friends. And we’ve done eight films together. I’ve known him closely. But that doesn’t qualify me to play Vikram. What added to my responsibility was the fact that Vikram had dedicated the film to his daughter. I couldn’t let him down.”

Aftab isn’t the only actor facing directorial stress. Nakul Vaid of Ab Tak Chhappan plays director Goutam Ghose’s alter ego in Ghose’s Yatra, and recently the little-known actor Samir Dharamadhikari played a role apparently inspired by Madhur Bhandarkar in Madhubaala.

And the recent Darna Zaroori Hai had Anil Kapoor playing a director called Karan Chopra who makes huge family films. Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra were neither flattered nor amused.

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