Filmmaker JP Dutta says that he never makes films for the box office as he doesn’t believe in comprising with his work. He says that with his latest movie Paltan, he expressed whatever needs to put out there on screen about Sino-Indian relations.
The filmmaker is exhausted and not because he has been directing films since 1976 when he launched his first war film Sarhad with his dear friend Vinod Khanna playing a role inspired J.P’s brother , an IAF pilot who was killed in the line of duty.
Sarhad never got a release and it took JP nine years to bounce back. The hiatus right at the beginning of his career is not the only sabbatical that JP has taken.
He laughs, “That break at the beginning could have broken my career . People said I was jinxed, difficult to work with, etc. It took me nine years to finally make my first film Ghulami.”
It is said that actor Abhishek Bachchan walked out of Paltan because of the absence of a script.
Laughs JP dismissively: That’s how I’ve worked from the beginning. Actors from Dharmendra to his son Sunny Deol, Vinod Khanna to son Akshaye Khanna know how I work. Even Abhishek has seen my work method in Refugee, LOC Kargil and Umrao Jaan.
After the failure of Umrao Jaan, JP went into a long creative sulk.
“This film’s failure hit me hard. Was it because people expected me to make only war films all my life? I did withdraw into a shell for 12 years. My father (writer O P Dutta)’s death made me even more of a loner. He wrote all my films. He was my father,friend , mentor and creative collaborator. Without him I felt orphaned. I didn’t want to direct any films.”
It was JP’s two daughter Nidhi and Siddhi who pulled him out of the prolonged impression. “They took charge of me , told me to snap out of my stupor because there are many films to be made. My younger Siddhi had assisted me in ‘Paltan’. As for Nidhi she is my backbone, my pillar of strength. ‘Paltan’ couldn’t have been made if it wasn’t for Nidhi.”
JP isn’t going to the release of Paltan with great expectations.
“I don’t make films for the box office. I make the film I want to, without compromise. The rest is up to God. In ‘Paltan’ I’ve said what needs to put out there on screen about Indo-China relations. Among my war films ‘Border’ was a blockbuster but ‘LOC Kargil‘ didn’t work. But I am equally proud of both. Among my films set in the Rajasthan deserts ‘Ghulami’ did well. But ‘Batwara’, ‘Yateem’ and ‘Kshatriya’ didn’t do that well. It doesn’t mean these three film are any less valuable to my repertoire.”
Among the dazzling epics in his oeuvre J P Dutta has a special place for ‘Hathyar’ the gangster epic in 1989 featuring Dharmendra, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor.
“It is that favourite child who doesn’t do that well in his studies but is nonetheless a favourite,” says J P, hoping that ‘Paltan’ which revisits the Indo-Chinese tension in 1967 , would remind audiences that war is not a solution.
“We must stop thinking about fighting with China or Pakistan. We need peace to prevail if we are to survive in this era of mass destruction,” asserts J P Dutta.