Lit for Life panellist Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra speaks about cinema and literature
Not really. I come from a lower-middle-class family. The love to read was always there, but life catches up with you — that whole survival thing. The first things I read weren't books but periodicals like Champak and Chandamama. And then the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. I was slow to read English. I did read Enid Blyton and the Hardy Boys, but always as an outsider. I couldn't identify with them because they were so removed from our culture. Then at college, Ayn Rand used to be a favourite, along with Louis L' Amour and lots and lots of Hindi books, the kind you'd pick up at the platforms outside railway stations for one rupee. I was also deeply influenced by poetry: Sahir, Faiz, Kaifi Azmi, Rumi, Iqbal, Ghalib, Bulleh Shah, Kabir, Khusro.
What kind of books do you like to read now, especially when you're looking for ideas for films?
I want a book to surprise me. It should go somewhere deep down and connect with you; philosophically, intellectually. It's not about big words and beautiful writing. The Dr. Seuss books are so simple. I've spent a lot of time trying to understand the genius of the man who wrote The Cat in the Hat. But I do not read books for the sake of making movies. My films are socially, economically and politically relevant, and I get that from the newspapers anyway.
Full interview here Hindu