By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: In May 2004, while shooting for a film at the Mahalaxmi railway station, a female foreigner crew member of Kaizad Gustad’s film was hit and killed.
For the first time the filmmaker talks about his 6-year legal and moral battle.
Says the 45-year old director, “I’ve never spoken about what happened. I couldn’t bring myself to explain the situation because I didn’t understand it myself. When I look back at the whole train of incidents it all seems unreal. We tried to save the injured girl (Nadia Khan)’s life in the best way we could. There were two friends of mine who took her to the hospital where they were told they had to fill a punch-naama (FIR). The funniest thing was, we went to the police to tell them exactly what happened.It was all so weird and we didn’t know how to deal with it.”
Kaizad came away disillusioned from the incident.
“I lost six years of my life. That’s how long it took for the case to be closed.I lived with the burden for six years. Those were very dark days. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t cry. There wasn’t day when everything beautiful was eclipsed by the awful incident. That this should happen to a stubbornly law-abiding citizen like me was unbelievable to me. I just wanted a closure, whatever the verdict.Finally the honourable judges were very fair to me.”
The good part of the ordeal was all the support Kaizad got during the ordeal. “Alexandra and I were just married for five months when this happened. We’ve now been married for ten years.Though she was new to the marriage,country and the crisis I was in,she stood by me like a pillar of strength. My family was with me. My entire extended family of very crazy Irani cousins were with me. I met cousins and relatives I had never met before.”
Pondering over the events, Kaizad reveals, “After what happened I just went up into the mountains and meditated in the Himalayas where I had grown up.I went in a shell to ask myself questions about my life. I surrendered to Nature. I have become a Buddhist in spirit. I also travelled all over the world including Indonesia and Vietnam. I was feeling enormously restless because I wasn’t making any movies. I missed making movies every single day.I was completely cut off from the Mumbai film industry.In any case I am not part of the normal circle of entertainers. I don’t even watch films. My inspiration is life and literature.I’ve always done my own thing and hoped it would work.”
When Kaizad was ready to make another film Bollywood was in no mood to accept him. “I spent three years trying to re-introduce myself to Mumbai. But no one was willing to give me a movie to make. It was worst than the time when I had to make my first film.”
Kaizad returned a different man from the period of post-mishap hibernation. “During the time that I was away in exile I had two lovely children Zahaan(age 4) and Zachary (age 1) with the love of my life my wife Alexandra. My inspiration for returning to film-making were my children. For their sake I couldn’t just sit back and watch the world go by.”
Now in the past three years Kaizad started writing again.
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