Amole Gupte has a special connection with kids and he is loath to break it. He is the only filmmaker in India, whose brand of cinema revolves around children. “I am a selfish person. Why should I think of changing something that gives me immense happiness? I cannot be part of the ‘star’ world because people there give more importance to themselves than their life,” says Amole, who has given several memorable films like Taare Zaame Par, Hawaa Hawaai and Stanley Ka Dabba.
He calls the kids he works with his ‘guru’. “The film industry is poisonous, toxic, self-centred place. But when I am with my children, I am being myself. There’s a sense of family and society when you have children around you,” he says.
The casting of each child in his films therefore plays a crucial role. But Amole explains that he never holds auditions for the parts. “I strongly believe that the child actor selects me. I usually do workshops with children. They have a keen sense of learning but whoever manages to make a place in my heart, I work with them. I believe that god sends them to me,” says the director, who was also the chairperson of the Children’s Film Society India (2012-15).
The director-writer-actor is busy promoting his next — Sniff. The story revolves around an 8-year-old wonder boy, who acquires a superpower (sniffing). The film, which is slated to release on August 25, stars child actor Khushmeet Gill in the title role. The story of Sniff was shared with Amole by a FTII pass-out, Radhika Anand. “Imagine you have the ability to smell things easily and from far off places! It would be such a lovely and terrific thing,” he says.
However, making cinema for children requires a lot of passion, considering that producers, distributors and exhibitors do not come forward to support such films. Amole admits that ‘it’s difficult’.
“It’s a lonely battle because no one is interested. But I am creating my own opportunities because my life depends on it. I am happy making films for children and there are several reasons for that. But sadly not too many people understand a good children’s film. I am trying to educate these people and not judge them. Just like adults films, the children’s films need screens and explaining this takes a lot of energy,” he says.
The filmmaker has also voiced his discomfort on reality shows featuring kids. “They are being taught to compete with others. But why aren’t they being taught to compete with themselves? My fight with reality shows will continue. Reality shows are not about talent and winning. They are all about failing because they just let small kids fail, which is sick,” the director.
On work front, Amole will soon start working on a biopic on top badminton player, Saina Nehwal. Shraddha Kapoor plays the title role. He says, “I am still finishing the script. Shraddha is learning the sport and she is turning out to be a great badminton player. She is putting in a lot of effort.”
He adds that directing the biopic is a huge responsibility because Saina is a role model for many young people in our country.
“I have to create value for that person who has contributed so much. She continued her studies while she was becoming the world champion,” says the actor, whose work in films like Singham Returns, Phas Gaye Re Obama, Kaminey gained him critical and commercial acclaim.