When his first feature film Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar released in 2000, a passing dialogue resulted in a backlash from a local political party. Today, after a few hits and many misses and much soul-searching, director Hansal Mehta is back with a biopic on the life of slain lawyer Shahid Azmi. Titled Shahid, it follows the critically acclaimed Chhal and Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai, which Mehta admits as “filmmaking at its worst.” And then there was the other debacle called Woodstock Villa.
The computer engineer and producer of TV show Khana Khazana, says his only star discovery was celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor. That changes with Shahid in which Raj Kumar pitches in with an award-worthy performance cementing his position as a towering actor, glimpses of which were seen in Gangs of Wasseypur and Kai Po Che. “Shahid reflects what I believe in and what I don’t believe in,” says Mehta, whose film screened at the Toronto and Mumbai film festivals last year.
As his film releases today, Mehta says, “I also feel relieved for those who had faith in me — my editor and co-writer Apurva Asrani, cinematographer Anuj Dhawan, producers Sunil Bohra, Anurag Kashyap and Shailesh Singh and most of all my family.”