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India’s Vidhu Vinod Chopra Works off his Anger at Film Bazaar Master Class

Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Patrick Frater

Goa, India — Vidhu Vinod Chopra, writer and producer of global hit “3 Idiots,” and arguably India’s most successful film maker, remains something of an angry young man.

“One of the reasons I became successful, was because I struggled so much with ‘Khamosh’,” he said, describing his 1985 film which has since become a classic, but which he had to self-release after being rejected by distributors.

Chopra was speaking Sunday during the Film Bazaar in Goa in a master class where he was interviewed by fellow film maker Sudhir Mishra.

Despite having promised not to, Chopra peppered his discourse with choice swearwords in English and Hindi, as he took sideswipes at film festivals (“I’m not a festivals kind of man”), digital cinema (“a little bit of laziness has crept in”) and a string of named and unnamed distributors and producers.

Despite also calling himself “not a likeable person,” and saying that he “uses hate as a weapon to defend myself,” the majority of what he had to say was collegial, complimentary and common sense.

He quoted Ingmar Bergman on the need to entertain and Akira Kurosawa on the need for teamwork (“a co-operative workforce based on individual talent”.)

He described his unusual 25-year relationship with Rajkumar Hirani, the director of “3 Idiots” and the upcoming Disney-backed blockbuster “PK”. “He is the director on set. He starts, I finish,” Chopra said. “I’ll work in the lab, but I no longer go on the set of any movie I’m not directing. You don’t want two directors on one set.”

Aside from “PK,” which he produced, Chopra is also currently finishing English-language drama “Broken Horses,” which he wrote, directed and produced and which stars Anton Yelchin, Vincent d’Onofrio and Thomas Jane. He described it as “the biggest challenge I’ve ever done,” and “highly satisfying whatever the fate of the film,” At one point he said he received a phone call from James Cameron complimenting him on the film’s then anonymous script.

Chopra also described being deluged with remake offers for “3 Idiots.” “I’d like to make ‘3 Idiots’ in Chinese, in French and in English. It has touched a lot of people’s lives.”

He wrapped the session by offering to help young film makers at future editions of the Film Bazaar project market. “I’m not a great believer in the festival circuit, but I’m very impressed with Film Bazaar.”