MUMBAI: Reliance Entertainment organized a rare and fascinating evening with one on the most influential film-maker in the history of global cinema, the highest-grossing director of his times, and three time academy award winner Steven Spielberg – in conversation with the finest actor that Indian Cinema has ever seen Amitabh Bachchan.
The Hollywood director first came to India in 1977 and shot a very small scene for his film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. He then returned to India in 1983 after the release of films like ‘Jaws’ and ‘E.T. The Extra- Terrestrial’. On his back-packing trip, the acclaimed director visited almost all of India including Banaras, Delhi, Jodhpur, Kolkatta, and Jaipur.
On asking what impressed him most about India when he was back-packing, the director said: “That people were welcoming of a foreigner, that they would invite me to eat and stay with them; they didn’t know who I was, after I had more ‘Jaws’ and the release of ‘Close Encounters…’, it was so great that nobody knew who I was. I remember that as being one of the happiest moments of my life; the relative anonymity of just traveling through India.”
On asking what inspired him to become a film-maker, Spielberg said that he made his first film with an 8 mm Kodak camera when he was 12 years old.
“I remember coming home from school one day and setting up a couple of shots to photograph the trains crashing and luckily the trains didn’t break but I had it one tape, one train going left to right, one train going right to left and then a straight shot that captured both the trains coming together and crashing. Then I ended looking at the 90 second film over and over again and it satisfied my need, for some reason, to break things, in those days and in that’s when I discovered the power of cinema.”
The Oscar winning director told everybody that his choice of unusual topics comes from his love for high concept films and that he enjoys putting across something that people have never seen before. The 66-year-old Hollywood veteran interacted with famous personalities from Indian cinema and shared tips on film making at a party hosted by Anil and Tina Ambani.
“Do you see India being able to challenge the star system?” asked Shekhar Gupta. Spielberg, who has made movies with big stars and with no stars, said:
“I have found that the most important star is the story you are telling. Not who you put in the story, but the story you are telling. There are some notable exceptions. I had a great story about Abraham Lincoln but that film would never have been made if it hadn’t been for the great performance of Daniel Day-Lewis.”
We saw an eclectic mix of directors like Rajkumar Hirani, Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra, Anurag Kashyap, Ramesh Sippy, Shyam Benegal, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Sudhir Mishra, Nagesh Kuknoor, Madhur Bhandarkar, Homi Adajania, Abbas- Mastan, Rohan Sippy, Prabhudeva, R.Balki, Kunal Kohli and many more at the event.
The industry’s leading women directors Zoya Akhtar, Kiran Rao, Reema Kagti, Rajshree Ojha, and Gauri Shinde were also present. We also spotted Stacey Snider the Co- Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros.
On asking Amitabh Bachchan how he felt interacting with the acclaimed film maker he said: “It was very invigorating, very frank, very open, and as Mr. Ambani said a lot of candour. He felt very comfortable, which always a wonderful feeling. It was an incredible experience. It’s an evening that many of us will remember for a very long time.”
Spielberg arrived in Mumbai on Monday morning with his wife, Kate Capshaw.. He is in India to celebrate the success of his Oscar-winning film ‘Lincoln’, which was co-produced by Spielberg’s DreamWorks and Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment. The film, directed by Spielberg himself follows Abraham Lincoln’s struggle during the Civil War and won The Oscar for Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.