Rajat Kapoor, Cinematograph
Compact, crisp and compelling paisa vasool way. Mithya, his latest film this year, booked profit on relatively small investment. His earlier movies too such as Mixed Doubles and Raghu Romeo have found a large appreciative multiplex audience and are selling like hot cakes in the home video circuit.
You bet it! The intelligent filmmaker must have mastered the concept of RoI while studying commerce at SRCC, Delhi. And corporate houses are all eager to put money in Rajat's ability to churn out commercially successful movies by concentrating on high quality craft with minimum investments and calculated risks. Little wonder, Pritish Nandy Communications has signed a 5 film deal with Rajat Kapur.
Probe him further on his small budget movie making formula and he says, "I would rather look at Woody Allen who has made 35 hugely successful movies in 35 years then do one movie that takes years to complete; besides small budget movies give me complete independence to do what I want to do and the way I want to do it."
But the way to independence and limelight was through 15 long years of obscurity.
Like the proverbial Bollywood hero, his life has been punctuated with hardship, struggle and a fight against Bollywood prejudices, which doesn't accept any newcomer in its fold easily.
From the age of 14 he wanted to be a filmmaker. In his graduation days he started a successful theatre group called Chingari in Delhi. Later, he joined FTII, Pune, in 1983 to study film direction, which was a big high for him. After graduating from the institute he assisted Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani, whom he regards as his mentors besides being great film makers.
Soon, like any newcomer, his tryst with hardship began, where he survived on 1500 rupees a month and sometimes even less while dusting the streets of Mumbai to sell his scripts, which didn't find any takers.
Didn't he feel like giving up on his dream at this point? Or pursue modeling, as with his looks, high paying modeling assignments would have come by with relative ease?
"No, however tough the going was I never once thought of anything else but to make my own movies. As for modeling, I never really pursued it and did my first ad only in 1999, which led to the other and then the role in Dil Chahta Hai," smiles Rajat.
"Dil Chahta Hai paved way for the making a film that was closest to my heart, but still the going was not easy thereafter."
We all know about the innovative "Letter of Appeal" which he wrote to over 3000 people where he requested for individual contributions of as low as Rs 10,000 for making the movie Raghu Romeo (the budget for the movie was Rs80 lakh, NDFC had given him Rs 40lakh, he had invested his life's savings of Rs15 lakh and was running short of the remaining Rs 25lakh and hence the plea). But what made his letter unique was that it was not just a request for investment but he was also offering a proportionate share in the profits to all.
"I ensured that everybody got their money back after the movie release," says Rajat.
The wheel of time has since moved on and this highly talented filmmaker has ensured that the lady luck finds him.With three highly awaited releases this year we can only hope that this is just the beginning with more and more people anxiously waiting for Rajat Kapoor films.
And finally any tips for people struggling to make it big? "I believe rigour is the most important attribute, and there is absolutely no substitute for hard work," signs off Rajat.