People usually embark on their careers with expectations and plans. Over the course of the years, how much of that have you been able to fulfill?
I feel very happy with my career. I had never planned on joining the industry because I was studying business abroad. Then I came back because my visa expired. I was thinking that I love movies, so let me see if I would like something in the film industry. I became an Assistant Director and then I accidentally got this film (Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai) when I was working on David ji’s sets and I used to meet Rumi (Jaffery) ji and Vashu (Bhagnani)ji. Rumi ji had recommended my name to Vashu ji. So that’s how I got this film. So for me, it was an accident, and from that to have made a career in the last twenty years, I feel very grateful and I have a lot of gratitude. Otherwise, if I had planned everything, I would have probably thought of being launched in the film industry or launched by my family. But I was very clear that I want to get my own job. So I got my first job and I took it up and for me, it has been like a simple job. I don’t look at it any other way. For me, it is all about doing my job properly. I have to be independent most importantly which I am.
Your first was accidental. Were you more cautious of what you did post that?
After the first film did very well, I got these romantic films. I did make some mistakes. I was learning. Sometimes the scripts were good but maybe the setup was not good or the chemistry with the director and me and probably the entire team coming together did not work. The teamwork was probably not enough, I don’t know what it was but few films didn’t work. Then with Khakee onwards, it has been a steady graph going upwards only and I have never looked back after that. That is something that has been a turning point for me. So after that film, I became careful. It’s okay to say no to a film. It’s important to do what works for you and it’s okay even you do a wrong film but you should never leave a good film. That was a lesson I also learned. So I started being careful after Khakee and then I think most of the films did really well, some didn’t do well, I think since then the success ratio has been very high; since Khakee in that sense. Among the films I did after Khakee, 50 percent worked well.
Would you call the Golmaal series a game-changer?
Khakee is the turning point and Golmaal is what established me. That’s how I look at it. Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai is what got me acceptance, Khakee a turning point and then Golmaal is what established me. Because after that no matter what I do, I can do a Golmaal and come back. Golmaal is a landmark in my career. Apart from that in-between, I have done films which whether they worked or not, helped me showcase another side to myself. Whether it is Shor In The City or The Dirty Picture or an experimental film like Kya Kool Hai Hum or the Shootout series. I worked with my sister as well and she gave me very different opportunities which were not all comedy. I have been part of so many films some 35-40 films and I am happy and miles to go ahead. No looking back and stopping.
How did you cope with the lows in your career?
I think initially I used to get a little confused thinking about what went wrong in the film and why it happened. But then you realise that it is part of the process. You get used to it and realise that it’s not always going to be your fault or somebody’s fault. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work. You just have to keep working hard and then eventually they fall into place. In our industry it takes time. Sometimes when you put in efforts into a film, it might not get you results immediately, but those efforts will yield results in some other film. One has to be really patient in the industry. One has to enjoy the ups and the downs. Initially, I would feel dejected but now, whether the film does well or not, after one day I am fine.
One thing you had wished you knew before joining the industry?
So many things. I learned everything on the job. I don’t have any regrets. Maybe I should have not done a couple of films in the beginning. In the beginning, I had done a few films forcefully. I should have realised that it is okay to say no to a film. I used to feel bad to say no. I should have put my foot down in some ways in the beginning. Those are the only regrets. Everything is a stepping stone. Maybe I should have done more promotion at the beginning of my career. I was not so good with marketing. I used to shy away from the media initially which I should not have done. There were lots of opportunities back then. I used to say no to everything. I used to say “no, I do not want to come in front of the media”. But gradually, I started appearing for film promotions. So, probably I should have done more PR at the beginning of my career.
In the past 20 years, the advancement of social media has changed the way the audience expresses their opinions and views on films and series. Does this impact the movie business or you as an individual?
Earlier, I used to think that there were fewer reviewers and we would take them very seriously. But now everyone’s opinion is out there and you can ignore it always because it has become such a mad circus. Even the audience is aware that a film is a film and someone saying something about it on social media does not matter to them. Whatever is there in the film you will come to know of it only after watching the film. So everyone knows that the movie speaks for itself. For e.g. my last film which I did as a producer, was Laxmii. The film received a lot of negativity on social media at the time of release but it broke records on Hotstar and is the most viewed film on an online platform and then it broke all records on satellite. And if people had taken the reviewers and negativity on social media seriously, would they have watched the film? I believe that whatever talks go on in the industry, people do not get affected by it.
Why did you go with Laxmii, a Tamil remake, for your debut as a producer?
I wanted to make Laxmii because of course, I love the subject, it was very commercial but at the same time, it was massy catering to a wide audience. It also had a very different horror element with the hero becoming possessed with something really different and bizarre and behaving very differently. I think that was very funky and very new also for the audiences. People are tired of seeing simple comedy. They wanted to see something different with comedy. I think in horror-comedy, the subject that Laxmii had, would have been interesting if some big hero would come and do it. The audiences would have liked to see a hero take such a big risk and take up a different role and went against his image for the role. So we wanted someone who had the image of a strong personality onscreen. If he does it, it will look like a huge challenge. It will look like a huge novelty factor and that worked with Akshay Kumar sir, because he is known to be an action hero. He is known to be a mass, powerful hero onscreen. For him to play something so different, that was also a USP that wanted to make me want to produce this film.
You announced your next film Maarrich very recently. You said it is different from your usual style and challenges you as an actor. Elaborate.
It’s a very challenging role because I have played a cop before but I have not played such a mature cop. It is not like a boy like I did in Khakee. So I have not played this kind of character. At this age, it was the right opportunity and right choice for me because I am 40 plus and I am a father. I wanted to play a cop and I wanted to do a thriller. It is my first out-and-out thriller also. I think the most important part is that it was a very difficult shoot for me. Because I was acting and producing and I had called ill before the shoot had started. This was in 2019. I wasn’t well and I didn’t know what was wrong with me because my reports were all normal. So I started to shoot and was very unwell and I had put on weight. So I started to work overnight and worked out early morning and I had to really get back into shape as I had to face the camera and then we had all kinds of night shoots for the thriller. I had to shoot in the rain, shoot an action sequence in the rain, and a lot of stress, a lot of hard work. In that sense, it was a difficult role for me.
After becoming a father, have you become more conscious of your choices?
Not really, I am quite cool that way. It’s not like I will have to play only simple and innocent roles now. When he grows up he has to understand that it is my profession and I have to be versatile and do all kinds of films. I will probably have to play some bold characters as well. So I think today’s kids are quite open-minded. They are educated to understand that the world is a very different place from the lives that we lead in our house. Whether it is a world of crime or whether it is a world of humour, whether it is a world of love, everything is not so easy. Reality has to been shown on screen. You can’t make it all look very sweet and very clean. Everything can’t be like that. It has to be a little more real.
What are your views on the current generation of actors?
I think they are all very competitive and they are all very prepared and amazing. Lots to learn from them. They are supercharged and super focused and they are super career-minded which we were not when we came in but it’s great. The young generation is rearing to go. But I have only one thing to say that “itna tez mat bhaago ki gir ke taang tooth jaaye’ (Do not run so fast that you fall and break your leg).
What does the future of cinema look like in the post-pandemic world?
The industry will always bounce back. Of course, this has been an unprecedented situation. But otherwise, the industry has always bounced back and come back stronger. This time also I know the industry will come back stronger. And it’s in our blood to watch films in theatres. When theatres will open after corona it will be like a revolution. People will want to go back to theatres and will watch movies again and again. So we will recover whatever we have lost. It’s just a matter of time, we just have to be strong and wait and get vaccinated.
ALSO READ: Tusshar Kapoor announces his next titled Maarrich with Naseeruddin Shah; says it is a departure from his usual style
Catch us for latest Bollywood News, New Bollywood Movies update, Box office collection, New Movies Release , Bollywood News Hindi, Entertainment News, Bollywood News Today & upcoming movies 2020 and stay updated with latest hindi movies only on Bollywood Hungama.