He once swore that he would never buy a car of his own and he often proved it when he walked all the way to the different studios he shot in. He said he would always wear chappals or even walk bare feet because he wanted to keep in touch with his roots and with the soil and be in constant touch with the people because like he asked, “how can I make films about people about whom I know nothing and am not in touch with the realities of their lives?” He took up a job in a shop.

It is said that he was a part of a small live band which played in small and shady hotels. He then joined Raj Khosla, one of the most outstanding, controversial and rebellious directors of the industry. It took him very little time to pick up the ways of making films and the first film he directed was “Manzilen Aur Bhi Hai” for a new producer who was a good friend, Johnny Bakshi. The film was highly controversial and was banned. The ban was revoked only when intellectual giants like K.A Abbas and B.K Karanjia took up the cause of the film and the shocking film was finally released with all its controversial scenes left untouched by the Censors.

The film failed at the box-office but Mahesh Bhatt, the director, became a name to reckon with. He continued making big commercial films like “Vishwasghaat” (with Sanjeev Kumar in a double role) and “Lahu Ke Do Rang” which gave him a place where he was recognised as a force for the future.

It was in the early eighties that he discovered a new school of filmmaking. He made films which had very close associations with the life he lived. He made true to life films like “Saaransh”, “Arth”, “Sadak”, “Zakhm” and “Daddy”, a series of films which had the touch of the real in life, especially scenes from his own life. It was at this stage that he was proclaimed a messiah and a mahatma and he made statements like, “I am a peddler of wounds, my own wounds and the wounds of others I know of”. He was seen as a saviour of Indian cinema and some of the greatest actors including Dilip Kumar were willing and wanting to work with “a genius of a director”.

He formed a school of his own way of making films and they appealed to the hearts of people of all sections and religions and were also commercially successful.

It was while he was at the peak of his career that his brother, Mukesh Bhatt who worked as a secretary to actors like Vinod Khanna, Smita Patil and Deepti Naval came up with an idea for him. He had an offer from Gulshan Kumar who was just coming up with his company, T-Series (Super Cassettes) to take about ten songs from a bank of music he had and asked him to ask Mahesh if he could weave a story round the songs and make a film. Mahesh, the messiah was not interested, but his commercially-inclined brother Mukesh inspired him and almost forced him to take up the offer and Mahesh Bhatt did. He was paid a royal sum of Rupees ten lakhs to direct “Aashiqui”. The film was a super hit mainly because of its music by Nadeem-Shravan, but all the credit went to Mahesh who learnt a lesson from his brother and realized how  it was important to make money more than just make artistic films which would only get him all the applause and awards and the praise of the critics.

Mahesh Bhatt was the director and Mukesh Bhatt was the producer and together they formed their own company, Vishesh Films and kept churning out one film after another. Their company believed in content and Mukesh, the big boss at the company once said, “We don’t need stars, we make stars” and the brothers proved themselves right as they discovered a number of new actors among who were Emraan Hashmi and Kangana Ranaut.

Mahesh Bhatt himself directed “Kasoor” as his last film as a director and then took to writing scripts and guiding the course of Vishesh Films which he is still doing and the company is one of the leading names in the industry and it is all due to the minds of the two brothers working in tandem.

The messiah who talked about selling wounds and telling the true stories about his own life and the lives of others seems to have forgotten all the talk about not having a car, walking bare feet and keeping in touch with the lives of the people now lives an entirely different life. He has his own plush apartment, he has a fleet of cars, the brothers have one of the best offices in the industry and their only motto seems to be to worship Mammon and make as much money as possible with the kind of films they are known for making.

Mahesh Bhatt continues to try and be in the news whenever there is a crisis in certain sections of society and when there are major issues faced by the country. It is his way of having his way when he has apparently lost his way as a filmmaker. The last film he wrote the script for, “Hamaari Adhuri Kahaani” with Vidya Balan in the lead was a washout and the words that ring in my ears as I think about the Mahesh Bhatt I knew when he had nothing but his own dictates to follow, drank himself crazy and made statements like “I am a bastard”.

There was a time when he was “human” and one could approach him at any time and talk to him on any subject. There is a time now when he is almost “invisible” or is visible with a group of security guards and he has no time to talk to people whose obituary value is not very high. His language is not the language he spoke when he made films like “Saaransh” and “Arth”. He talks like an emperor without a throne and the only common thing he and his brother and now the entire Bhatt family talk about is money, more money and just money.

Where is that Mahesh Bhatt who walked from Union Park to Mehboob Studios to feel the heat of the sun and who wanted to shake hands with the common people along the way? Where is that Mahesh Bhatt who was seen as the Mahatma of Indian cinema? Why did he have to change so much during one life-time only to make money and to be a regular worshiper at the temple of Mammon?

supercinemaArticlesBollywood Trade Magazine

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