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John, Neil and Katrina are sex symbols: Kabir Khan

John, Neil and Katrina are sex symbols: Kabir KhanKabir Khan whose New York looks at face of terrorism after 9/11, talks to Subhash K Jha

How did 26/11 change your perception on 9/11?
I don't think 26/11 has changed my perceptions on terrorism or on my film. Though the attack on the Taj and Oberoi were the most audacious in Mumbai, what about the foiled attack on our parliament? And more people died in the train explosions of Mumbai.At the end of the day what do terrorists want. A splash.

So isn't that what you are giving them by making a film on terrorism with three glamorous stars?
No. I'd never do something like that. Even when Kabul Express went to the Toronto Film Festival I was asked by Americans why I was siding with the Taliban. All I can say is, there's a human face to even the worst political ideology. My loyalty to my country is a given. No one can question that.

But filmmakers who made films on terrorism in the last one year like Neeraj Pandey's A Wednesday and Nishikant Kamat's Mumbai Meri Jaan were questioned?
I find that unfair. Those films on terrorism were made before 26/11. I'd say a film on terrorism would be exploitative if a filmmaker made a bad film on the events of 26/11. I am aware 36 titles have been registered for films on 26/11.

No harm in that as long as they are sincere. Unfortunately films on terrorism in our country are often high-pitched and jingoistic. And that's counter-productive. My film, I'd like to believe is a very balanced view of terrorism.

You bond big time with John Abraham?
John brings in an incredible integrity. John agreed to be in Kabul Express even without Yashraj in the picture. Both John and Arshad Warsi were very supportive."

However there's no Arshad in New York in spite of the big bonding between you two during your first film Kabul Express?
Arshad and his wife Maria are my family. But Arshad suited no character in New York. I didn't take John, Katrina and Neil for their looks. They play very normal regular people. If they still look glamorous what can we do? They're inherently glamorous. However New York catches these good-looking people in a very natural light.

If I can have my main characters look glamorous and yet make a realistic film, I see no harm in it. John, Neil and Katrina are sex symbols.

But they're without makeup and dressed in clothes that any New Yorker can buy off the shelf. No designer wear at all. They're very approachable in the film. And if John is all beefed up in New York it's not because I wanted him to look like a sex symbol. It's the character."

Your style of filmmaking is very different from your producer Yashraj's style?
That's true. There were enough directors at Yashraj doing conventional cinema. I'm happy Aditya allowed me to tell the story the way I wanted to do it.

Both your feature films Kabul Express and now New York stress on strife?
I've been fortunate that my documentaries have allowed me to travel to sixty countries.I've seen first-hand what the state of the world is. I think more of our mainstream cinema needs to gets the geo-politics in place. Where do these characters in our films come from, and where are they going? For now I need to make a cinema about what's happening to our world."

Haven't Kabir taken cinematic liberties by shifting New York to Philadelphia?
If it wasn't reported it wouldn't have been known. It's not as if we haven't shot in New York. We've shot extensively in New York for the outdoors. But when we needed to shoot outdoors it made no sense to shoot in an expensive city like New York.

I agree I shot Kabul Express entirely on location in Afghanistan. But New York for practical purposes had to be shifted.Kabul Express needed to be narrated in the docu-drama style. It was based on my own experiences while shooting a documentary in Afghanistan.

Two years since I made it. And I wouldn't change anything in it even today. But New York is more cinematic. With competition and recession being what it is we can't afford to be selfindulgent.

Recession has also brought in a much-needed note of caution in the film industry against a fast and furious flow of funds.

A lot of people were getting the money they didn't deserve. So many of the huge blockbusters generated little profits for those not at the top of the ladder."

Is New York inspired by Mark Pellington's 1999 film Arlington Road?
(laughs) First of all I don't even like Arlington Road. If I've to copy a film it'd have to be something I enjoyed at least.I don't think I'd ever be able to rip off from a dvd. I make films to put across my viewpoint on life.

Arlington Road is completely mixed up in its politics. It has nothing to do with the situation in the world today. There's absolutely no similarity between New York and Arlington Road. I wouldn't spend 11 months of my life writing a script that was ripped off.


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