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You have to fight your battles and be proud of every film: Rahul Rawail


Veteran filmmaker Rawail regaled the audience at the Rajasthan International Film Festival with his anecdotes, sharing memorable moments and insights from his own journey.

Photo: Courtesy the Rajasthan Film Club

Sukhpreet Kahlon

On day two of the Rajasthan international Film Festival (RIFF) in Jaipur on Sunday 19 January, veteran filmmaker Rahul Rawail, chairman of the National Film Awards jury, talked about his journey in cinema with Anshu Harsh, co-founder and trustee of the Rajasthan Film Club.

Though his father was the well-known director Harnam Singh Rawail who made several noteworthy films like Mere Mehboob (1963), Mehboob Ki Mehndi (1971) and Laila Majnu (1976), Rahul Rawail was not quite inclined to follow in his footsteps. The young man dreamt, instead, of being a nuclear scientist, and after completing his school exams, was all set to go to Canada.

However, fate had other plans for him. On a whim, he decided to accompany his childhood friend, actor Rishi Kapoor, to the sets where Raj Kapoor had started shooting Mera Naam Joker (1970). The two boys decided to go and watch the Russian girls who had been flown in for the shoot!

Once he reached the shoot, Rahul Rawail saw Raj Kapoor command a crowd of 5,000 people and was fascinated. Thereafter, he started visiting the sets every day and eventually decided to work as the filmmaker’s assistant. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rawail shared the highs and lows of his career, saying, “This industry is such that failure is part of it. Every person thinks they have made a good film and it will be successful. One must have faith in one’s work and be prepared for ups and downs.”

Interestingly, Rawail’s blockbuster film Love Story (1981), which launched the career of Kumar Gaurav, actor Rajendra Kumar’s son, and Vijayta Pandit, sister of Sulakshana Pandit, was also one where he had a bitter fight with Rajendra Kumar, as the latter was also the film's producer. In the end, Rawail insisted that his name not appear as director of the film, and Love Story remains a film where the title for the director is missing. Though the film became a massive hit, the filmmaker stuck to his guns.

Sharing his years of experience with budding young filmmakers, Rawail advised them to watch as many films as they could and said, “Film knowledge increases by watching films. I watch a film every day.”

He added, “You have to stand by your principles and what you are making because film is a director’s medium. You have to fight your battles and be proud of every film, good or bad.”

Rawail is also known for launching the careers of several actors in Hindi cinema, apart from Kumar Gaurav and Vijayta Pandit in Love Story. Some of the others are Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh (Betaab, 1983), Kajol and Kamal Sadanah (Bekhudi, 1992), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, 1997) and Yashpal Sharma (Arjun Pandit, 1999).

Talking about film artistes and their performances, the filmmaker said, “As a director, I can only help you go ahead with your performance, but the actor has to put in the effort. I have the responsibility to convert the negative attributes of actors into positive ones.”

During the engaging session, he said he got the opportunity to work with many stalwarts like Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and K Asif and learnt from all of them. Offering some advice to young filmmakers, he said, “Don’t ever get self-indulgent. One should listen to people’s suggestions and choose whether or not to keep them.”

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Rajasthan International Film Festival