"On the other hand
Because there are two sides to every story
My Boss and I
On the other hand, because there are two sides to every story. That is why I write these columns; for the other side of the story. And there is indeed another side to the story I write here today.
An accusation hurled at Mahesh Bhatt, who I call Boss, that he threw a slipper at a then struggling actor, an insinuation that he was just nasty. My first instinct was to take to twitter and join the party of social mudslinging. But desist I did. I realised that its easy to be on a high horse, even if its a wooden one and that cant be me. I was not there at the event mentioned. I know nothing about the people involved. I only know my Boss. But my Boss I do know.
I was seven when I first saw him; the man who was all charm, all fire and all passion. I wanted to be a director the day I saw him. I wanted to feel the way he felt. I wanted to be able to tell stories like him.
When I was eighteen I became his assistant. I remember him telling me, “Are you sure you want this hell called Direction?” I did, I told him. He made sure that I got the hell I craved. He made me a director and gave me my break in his company. I was the first director other than Mahesh Bhatt to have a film in his and Mukesh Bhatt’s company, Vishesh Films.
I have had an emotionally checkered past with my Boss. There was the season of learning, there was the season of Fareb, Ghulam, Kasoor and Raaz, the season of success, there was the season of Footpath and Inteha that did not do well. Then there was a season where I parted ways with him. I missed him, wished he would see my films, wanted to go and talk about the world with him but an idiot in me did not allow.
But I knew I had to make amends, I knew I had to right the wrong I had done. I went to him and told him that I would do anything to express my gratitude to him. I had to undo what had I done. He was gracious. Asked me to do Raaz 3.
Yet, this is just films and relationships go beyond films. Boss has been my mentor, my guru, my guide and he has held my hand when everyone else has disappeared into the woodwork. I believe in me because he believes in me; his faith in me instils my faith in myself. And these are not words because they are backed by his actions.
He picked up his best soundtrack and gave it to me for my first film Jaanam, when Aamir Khan and he had a fallout over Ghulam, he insisted I would direct the film. He was furious with me when I had my extramarital affair, “You have no idea how this will destroy you Vikram!” he hollered. In his anger there was paternal concern and fear for the road I had taken.
If there is someone I know, it is my Boss.
He does not own anything. Forget about not owning a part of his company, he does not even run his own bank account. For him ownership is a burden. It worries him, like a monkey on his back. He once told me, “I don’t like to own things I cannot give away because when you cannot give it away it is not yours.” He needs to give everything away. That is him.
He is not even a creative director, he is not a director, he is not a writer, he is not an editor, he is none of them and he is all of them and more. On a day I was feeling blue he said to me, "You are not your profession Vikram. That is just what you do for a living. That is not your identity. It is but a part of you; there is lots more to you. If you give people the right to give you an identity, you will give them the right to take that identity away when they wish."
He is rich not by the money he can count but by the lives he has touched. I have seen scores of people, successful film celebrities, politicians, harassed security guards, troubled light boys, penniless spot boys, all flocking to him because they know he has an insight that will rid them off their misery. He has love at the center of his being, that is all pervasive.
As I write this piece, he is in Romania, scouting for the locations for Sadak 2. He had sworn never to direct again but has taken up the mantle because there is no one else who can do Sadak 2 like he can and he had promised Mukesh Bhatt that whenever there should be a need for him to get into the field again, he would. He has. This is not an act of personal ambition; he is too far gone for career games and perception selling. This is an act of love and generosity.
I know he won’t care much about this piece; I am doing this behind his back. But I do care. As I said, there are two sides of a story and my story is about a man who has taught me what love, gratitude and giving away is all about. If you know him as anything else but this, I would consider that your misfortune, not his."