As India enters its 75th year of Independence on August 15, Subhash Ghai takes us back to the time when he made everyone sing along to Yeh Mera India, I Love My India from his big hit, Pardes. The director looks back at his patriotic spirit in films and tells We have 10,000 stories right here, in our own land, so why do we have to go looking for inspiration elsewhere?
'Yeh Mera India, I Love My India' has a refrain down the years. How did you come up with this line for the Pardes song?
Well, Amrish Puri's character in the film, Kishorilal, is a wealthy businessman who has been living in the US for 40 years. But he still loves his India. When he goes to meet his old friend in his village, he is surprised to see the young children there singing Hare Rama Hare Krishna to American tunes, on flutes, pipes, drums and the keyboard, talking of Michael (Jackson), Madonna, Elvis (Presley) and wanting to fly to the US. So exchanging his track suit for a dhoti-kurti, he tells them that he has seen London, Paris and Japan, but nowhere in the world has he seen another Hindustan. I came up with the line, 'I love my India', Bakshiji (lyricist Anand Bakshi)'s poetic brilliance -- 'Yeh duniya, ek dulhan, dulhan ke maathe pe bindiya, yeh mera India, yeh mera India' -- enhanced it. When Mahima's (Chaudry) character, Kusum Ganga sings these same lines in the US, in front of a roomful of NRIs, you are even more inspired. American dream... Indian soul, that's the tagline of Pardes. Till date, I tell young people that instead of aping the West, they should take our stories and talk about our culture in the global market. So far, there's been only one international film on our country, Gandhi, through which foreigners learn our history, and it was made by Richard Attenborough. We have 10,000 stories right here, in our own land, so why do we have to go looking for inspiration elsewhere?
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember telling my father when I was in the 10th standard that I didn't want to do commerce and become a chartered accountant. I wanted to either be a cop or an actor.
Yes, two of my uncles were top cops with the Punjab police and I thought it was a wonderful profession -- so disciplined, laying down the law, catching criminals. I wanted to follow in their footsteps. But I had started doing plays in school. By the time I went to college, dramatics had become a passion. I remember, I had written this play, Bujhe Shole, about people who lived on the border. How they felt when the two armies on opposite sides clashed, the frequent skirmishes destroying their property and disrupting their lives. It was well appreciated.
So you chose films over the force?
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