In May 2004, while shooting for a film at the Mahalaxmi railway station, Nadia Khan, female foreigner crew member of Kaizad Gustad's film, was hit by a train and killed. For the first time the filmmaker talks about his six-year legal and moral battle and his comeback film "Jackpot".
"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," said the 45-year-old director.
"We tried to save the injured girl's (Nadia Khan) 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 panchnama (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."
In May 2010 Kaizad was sentenced to one month jail by a Mumbai Central Railway court in connection with the death of Nadia Khan. He was also slapped with a fine of Rs.75,000.
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... I just wanted a closure, whatever the verdict. Finally, the honourable judges were very fair to me," he said.
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 10 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."
"After what happened, I just went up into the mountains and meditated in the Himalayas where I had grown up... I surrendered to nature. I have become a Buddhist in spirit. I also travelled all over the world including Indonesia and Vietnam," said Kaizad.
"I was feeling enormously restless because I wasn't making any movies... 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... I've always done my own thing and hoped it would work," he added.
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 worse 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 filmmaking were my children. For their sake, I couldn't just sit back and watch the world go by."
Revealing details, Kaizad said: "It's not a romantic film, and my lead pair Sachin Joshi and Sunny do not run off to sing songs in the rain. It's a crime thriller shot in the backwaters of Goa on board a floating casino boat done in the style of the noire films in the 1920s and 1930s, very dark and moody. Everyone is trying to con everyone else. Sunny plays a femme fatale."
He added: "We've never seen Goa in a noire-ish laidback and lazy and yet frantic."
"I did make one English-language film 'Bombil & Beatrice' after what happened to me in 2004. It didn't get released at all."
Having been out of the loop for so long one wonders if Kaizad feels like a fish out of water.
"I remember running around 15 years ago running around with a script called 'Bombay Boys'. Now I feel like the new kid on the block. A whole generation hasn't seen my 'Bombay Boys'. The film industry has changed radically. It's far more open to films like 'Bombay Boys'. The audience too has grown up. This is boom-town in Bollywood."
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