Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘co-producer

Akshay Kumar waives off his entire fee for Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan. What effect will the actor’s decision have on the bloated market price of other stars?

By Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 30, 2009)


It could be atonement for his past deeds, or should it read, atonement for his past fees. Trade circles say that Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar who attained notoriety as the actor who was reportedly signed for as high a fee as Rs 71 crore for a film, has had a change of mind.

Reliable market sources say that the entire completion cost of Akshay’s next two films -Khatta Meetha directed by Priyadarshan and Tees Maar Khan directed by Farah Khan will reportedly not exceed Rs 35 crore.

So how did this miracle happen?

According to one trade source, “The cost of making Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan will not include the actor’s fee.”

The same source adds that when Akshay realised that his films Chandni Chowk to China, Kambakkht Ishq and Tasveer lost money because of his individual fee as an actor, he decided to make a market correction.

Having studied the current Bollywood trade scene, the actor in concurrence with his filmmakers has decided not to charge a single penny for his films.

However, Akki’s banner Hari Om Productions is a co-producer on Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan.

The actor explains the logic behind this drastic move of not charging his market fee, saying, “My fee for both films will be zero. If both films are hits, then my production house will stand to benefit by getting a part of the profits. If the film is average, the profit margin will automatically be reduced. However, it’s important to note here that even if the film flops, no one will lose money because the budget has been controlled. By not charging my personal remuneration as an actor, I’m making sure that these films will at least romp home with no losses.”

Trade sources say that the Akshay module is being closely watched by all actors who have home productions.

By Subhash K. Jha, December 11, 2009 – 19:00 IST

Post the grand international success of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Mumbai slums have become fashionable and popular visiting places for international audiences. Just how much so, Sudhir Mishra discovered when he took his long-delayed film on slum life Tera Kya Hoga Johnny (featuring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami and Karan Nath along with a real street-child Sikandar) to New York’s South Asian Film Festival held from October 28 to November 3.

At the festival American critics reacted to Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny as another Slumdog Millionaire.

Now Sudhir will release the film in a dubbed English version. “After Slumdog Millionaire, the West is looking with much curiosity at the slum culture of Mumbai. I had no plans of doing an English version of Tera Kya Hoga Johnny. But everyone who saw it in New York suggested I do it. Every frame in my film has been shot in the lanes and gullies of South Mumbai in Colaba.”

With Tutu Sharma now taking over as co-producer of Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, the film is all set for an early January 2010 release.

Thus ends the blame game whereby Neil Nitin Mukesh was being accused of trying to stall the film by not dubbing for it.

Defends Sudhir Mishra, “First of all most of the film is in sync sound. There was just about a day’s dubbing to be done by Neil. He finished it long ago. Why blame the poor guy?”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

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Parinda, Satya, Vaastav, Company and Gangster-these are handful of Hindi films which were based on the mafia/gangster menace and also very well executed. Now Baabarr should be added to this list of ‘finest gangster films of Bollywood’! The film is violent, gory and raw but at the same time, it’s thoroughly engrossing packed with award-winning performances and amazing execution! It was a must-watch but unfortunately, was missed by many!

The story of the movie: The film is based in Amarganj, the Uttar Pradesh town where criminal incidents occur daily and has become a part and parcel of the residents. In one of its dingy lanes, Baabarr (Sohum Shah) emerges as a ruthless gangster. Working with his 5 brothers, Baabarr runs an extortion racket and doesn’t think twice before killing. The govt entrusts the task of eliminating Baabarr and his gang and all their activities to S P Dwivedi (Mithun Chakraborthy). How Dwivedi, along with corrupted Daroga (Om Puri) go about doing their duty is what follows next in the film.

Director Ashuu Trikha may not accept, but the truth is that Baabaar, undoubtedly, is based on dreaded UP gangster, Rafiq Qureshi’s life. The director and the screenwriter (Ikram Akhtar) wonderfully trace Baabarr’s journey from his first murder at 12 years to his death at just 22 or 23 years. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat right from the beginning and has several high-voltage shocking scenes which give goosebumps.

One of the four factors that make Baabaarr stand out is that it takes us to a world which we are ignorant about. The film throws light on Amarganj where murders take place casually, where people have more guns in their houses than chairs, where people are never ever given lessons on good manners and where people are addressed as ‘Oye Pehelwan’ instead of ‘Hey Dude’! However, the setting doesn’t look unrealistic at all (it isn’t actually) and the viewer absorbs everything that is projected in the film. Secondly, every character in the film is added with a purpose and each of them is damn interesting. My 5 favourites were Baabarr, Daroga, Maamu (Tinnu Anand), Sarfaraaz (Shakti Kapoor) and the sexiest one in the film, Tabrez (Sushant Singh)!
Thirdly, everything that happens in the film has a purpose. Meaning, none of the scenes were unnecessarily added-it was all connected to the main plot. For instance, one may feel that grown-up Baabarr’s intro scene where he kills a businessman named Jilani was just added to project Baabarr’s ruthless and merciless nature. But the scene is well connected to the next one and also to the storyline. And lastly, the climax of this film is shocking! There is an excellent twist that takes place which catches you unawares! It doesn’t spoil the film at all and also looks justified. In short, a great work by the writer-director duo!

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Some scenes of the film are memorable. Baabarr’s first murder at 12 and Baabarr killing Jilani in his own factory set the mood. Tabrez finishing Akram in a cow slaughter house is gruesome scene but clapworthy. The intermission point was easily the best scene of the film!

The only glitch in the entire film is that it gets a bit slow in the 2nd half.

Every actor in the film has pitched in a fabulous performance-in fact, much much better than their other films in recent times. Newcomer Sohum Shah rocks with his finest performance. Since it his debut, he doesn’t come with the baggage of any past significant performance and thus, one connects to his character instantly. Also, the actor wonderfully exhibits the ruthlessness that his character needed. Even his dialogue delivery rocked. This year, except Raj Singh Chaudhary of Gulaal, none of debutants have managed to impress and hence, Sohum has high chance of bagging the Best Debut award next year!

However, the question arises that based on his appearance and the kind of character he played in Baabarr, will he be offered other types of roles in future? I hope he gets as he’s a truly a gem! Best of luck! (P.S.: Is Sohum Shah Mukesh Shah’s son who is the co-producer of the film?!)

Mithun Chakraborty does his job with élan. His meeting with Sohum is an explosive scene! Om Puri rocks and this was certainly one of the finest performances of his life. The way he changed his mannerisms, walking style and accent for this role and did a great job is definitely praiseworthy. Same goes for Sushant Singh who delivers phaadu performance! I have loved this talented actor since 16 December and am impressed to see him in such an interesting role. Here is an actor who deserves to be a superstar!

Urvashi Sharma was fine but one may argue that her character was unnecessary. Mukesh Tiwari was brilliant, esp in the pre-climax scene inside the prison. Ditto for Tinnu Anand, who shows his extremely talented side in the pre-climax. Shakti Kapoor is surprisingly, extremely likeable! Govind Namdeo was as usual. Kashish Khan as Baabarr’s wife gives a nice ‘Kaminey’s Charlie-type’ performance! Abbas Ali Moghul, the action director of the film, is there for a scene and plays the role of Akram Qasai. He’s a great actor! Pratima Kazmi plays Lilavati, a character based on Mayawati. Shockingly, a beep tone is inserted whenever her name is mentioned in the film! Others also do a great job.

Anand Raj Anand’s music was alright. The title song is impressive. Suhass Gujarathi’s cinematography is brilliant and the dingy by-lanes of Uttar Pradesh towns are well captured. Abbas Ali Moghul charms as the actor and also as the action director! Although some scenes had too much bloodshed, it was needed. Sunil Singh’s background score was in sync with the film’s mood.
Vikram Misra and Ikram Akhtar’s dialogues were one of the best things about the film. The best dialogue of the film (and one of the best in recent times) is: “Gas khatam ho gayi hai…tujhe jalakar chai banayenge tujh pe!” Absolutely rocking!

Ikram Akhtar has also written the story and script of the movie and he excels thoroughly! The film keeps you on the edge of the seat and doesn’t bore even for a moment! Great job by Akhtar, who has scripted some contrastingly light films like Nayee Padosan, Joru Ka Ghulam, Chal Mere Bhai etc!

Finally, Ashuu Trikha is a revelation! The director has always done a fine job in his past films (Deewanapan, Sheesha, Alag) but was let down by faulty scripts. In Baabarr, however, he is armed with a flawless script and he does a brilliant job. He succeeds in exposing the gangster-police-politicians nexus that is rampant in the interiors of the country and where lawlessness prevails. Hats off to Ashuu and hoping to see him with such nice films in future!

Some of the best scenes of the film:
1.   Baabarr’s childhood
2.   Baabarr finishing Jilani
3.   Tabrez’s entry
4.   Baabarr and Tabrez’ confrontation during the tender meeting
5.   The intermission point
6.   Baabarr shot
7.   Dwivedi teaches Daroga a lesson
8.   The last 25 minutes

On the whole, Baabarr is surely one of the best gangster films that has come out from Bollywood. Although it has excessive violence, it manages to impress with his intriguing execution and performances. The film wasn’t publicized well when it released in September this year. But now, all movie buffs, do catch it on DVD! Don’t Miss It!

My rating-**** out of 5!

This review first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Baabarr-178084-1.html

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DDLJ ENTERS ITS 15 YEAR; STILL RUNNING SUCCESSFULLY IN MUMBAI!

One of the best Bollywood films of all time, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) has been running since its release in 1995 at the Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai! Very surprisingly, the solo 11:30 am show of DDLJ still gets viewers and during weekends, it is easily 70-100% full! It was released on October 20, 1995 and this Tuesday, it entered into its 15th year!

However, a lot of doubts have been raised as to how such an old film still manages to get audience. Some say that Yash Raj Films, the producers of DDLJ, are forcefully running the movie at Maratha Mandir to create a record. But none of this is true and I can vouch for that as I myself have gone to see DDLJ couple of time there. Some of the reasons for DDLJ’s successful running:

1. OUTSTANDING ENTERTAINER: DDLJ is a sweet well-made feel good film that has its heart at the right place. It was a cult film at that time as it managed to place something interesting before the audience and at the same time, didn’t trudge a different path. And SRK’s mind-blowing performance created frenzy among the females. You can find many (males too) who have seen the film more than 30/40/50/100 times and are ready to watch it again! Thus, it’s a film which almost any moviegoer can watch it anytime!
2. SHAH RUKH KHAN’S CRAZE: Shah Rukh Khan has one of the biggest fans following. So many fans from other cities/countries that are on a visit to Mumbai make it a point to watch DDLJ at Maratha Mandir!
3. TICKET PRICING: The rates of DDLJ’s show are damn cheap. Balcony tickets cost Rs 22, Dress Circle tickets are priced at Rs 20 while stall tickets are available for Rs 18. With such low rates, it becomes damn affordable for anyone, even for the poorer sections living nearby, to watch DDLJ many times!
4. LOCATION OF MARATHA MANDIR: The theatre is situated opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station, the southernmost terminus in Mumbai on Western Railway. Many travelers who reach the station in the morning but have a late afternoon train to catch decide to watch the film in order to pass their time! Even though Apsara, Novelty, Minerva theatres aren’t very far from the station, travelers still prefer watching DDLJ. Also, the hawkers, vendors and other poor people working/dwelling near Maratha Mandir go for it as for them it’s the ultimate entertainment. Other single screens nearby have closed and they can’t afford multiplex tickets. So they prefer watching DDLJ due to cheap ticket rates and also because the film never bores!
5. CURIOSITY: I know many who stay far away in the suburbs of Mumbai but have gone to watch DDLJ out of curiosity and amusement that the film is still running!

Some 6-7 years back, even I found it difficult to believe that the film managed to get audience in each show. But then, DDLJ is a magical film. Also, when I had gone to see DDLJ in its 500th week, I was surprised to see that people who were there in the show (it was housefull) were so engrossingly watching the film. They knew the film perfectly as they had seen it many times and they could have cracked jokes and passed stupid comments in emotional scenes, as masses generally do. But they didn’t and were shanti se seeing it! DDLJ, indeed, is much more than magical, I guess! Whatever it is, it rocks and I hope it keeps running forever!
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MAMKACCEPT THAT YOU GUYS MADE A BAD FILM!

Blue and All The Best have done a great job at the BO but the 3rd Diwali release, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna (MAMK) have failed miserably. The film could neither impress the critics nor the audiences. Director Prem Soni gave two reasons for film’s debacle-first, the producers made a mistake for going easy on the film’s publicity and second, there was a general resentment against the film and attempt was made to sabotage it! Producer Sohail Khan, on the other hand, blames the co-producer of the film, UTV, for releasing the film during Diwali with Blue and All The Best. According to him, MAMK wasn’t perfect Diwali stuff and that people want to watch comic films in the festive time (Ironically, Prem Soni a month ago was heard saying that Diwali is the perfect time for MAMK!). He wanted the film to release next year during Valentine’s Day.

Both Sohail and Prem are giving different and contradictory reasons but none of them are ready to accept that they made a bad film. Even if the publicity was low-key, the film had made its presence felt. And regarding the point that attempt was made to flop the film; I don’t buy it at all. Go and ask viewers who saw the film-they all were disappointed. So, the word-of-mouth wasn’t good and that’s why the film failed. Sohail’s reasoning also isn’t justified. A bad film is going to flop whether it’s released in Diwali or on Valentine’s Day or during any other fest. Also, during 2004 Diwali, Veer-Zaara and Aitraaz had occupied almost all shows in theatres and also the headlines. Yet, Mughal-E-Azam, released simultaneously with these two films with very less prints, managed to grow and do a great job at the BO.

At such times, my respect for Ram Gopal Verma increases! He’s the only one who accepts that his film wasn’t upto the mark. He went to the point to say that those who liked his Sholay-remake Aag are mental patients! Kudos to RGV!


By Subhash K. Jha, September 3, 2009 – 13:21 IST

Katrina Kaif On Tuesday morning, the appeals court in Kolkata ordered that the entire Box-Office collections of the Bengali film Poran Jay Jolaye Re be deposited in the court. The film which was released a couple of months ago to a rousing welcome in Bengal is said to have so far collected whopping figures at the Box-Office.

By depositing the entire collection at the Box-Office, the producers Venkatesh Films of the Bengali film stand to lose a substantial amount of money.

Says Vipul, “They’ve to deposit every single penny that the film has collected. The judgment of the appeals court says that the ‘entire’ Box-Office collection of the Bengali film be deposited in court. It is historic in terms of violation of copyright infringement. To know the court can stop a film is a clear signal that plagiarism can be fought. The judgment will now be a reference point for all plagiarism cases. It was needed. Every filmmaker contemplating plagiarism will now think twice.”

The alleged copyright violators of the Bengali film can now appeal in the Supreme Court. As for the money that the court has confiscated from the Bengali film’s collection, it is now legally a part of a damage suit that Vipul chooses to file.

“However I don’t want any monetary compensation. That wasn’t my intention. I wanted to make a strong case against copyright infringement. The honourable court has done the needful. I think its victory for all us filmmakers. We used to make a joke about copyright laws by saying copyright means the right to copy. I think the joke has now ended.”

Akshay Kumar who’s the co-producer of Namastey London has decided not to sign any film that he knows to be an illegal copy

Says Akshay, “By God’s grace, all my films seem to be original. Even Vipul’s Action Replay which some people think is a copied from elsewhere (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) is original. People who spread these rumours should be careful. Copying films is as serious an offence as accusing an original work of being a copy.”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

CREATING AWARENESS: Satish Kaushik and Anupam Kher
It’s meant to address society as well as entertain, say duo

NIMISHA TIWARI Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; Aug 7, 2009)

Thirty-four years of friendship between Anupam Kher and Satish Kaushik have led the actor and director to form a production house called Karol Bagh and make a film titled Teree Sang. Manoj Mittal, another friend of the duo’s since their Delhi college days, completes the partnership. As for their maiden film…

“Did you know that the legal age for consensual sex is 16, while the legal age to get married is 18,” asks Kaushik, explaining that it is their mission to address social issues in an entertaining manner. “It’s almost a literal translation of my association with Satish in the last many years. We would like to make films that hopefully become box office hits on the basis of their content and social relevance,” adds Anupam.
Incidentally, Teree Sang — which releases today, enjoys the consent of principals of over 50 premiere schools in Delhi.

Kercy Daruwala, Managing Director of co-producer Sony Pictures India, says, “We are happy to be working with such senior filmmakers as Kaushik and Anupam and to introduce fresh talent. Teenage pregnancy is an issue that is relevant in Indian society today and has not been addressed by the film industry. We believe this film will encourage the nation to sit up and take notice of this important issue.”
nimisha.tiwari@timesgroup.com

Sarita Tanwar (MID-DAY; July 31, 2009)

Saif Ali Khan walks in 10 minutes late. He’s looking fresh and surprisingly fit. He gives me a typical filmy hug and announces, “I haven’t had a bath yet.” I tell him that information would’ve been appreciated a few seconds earlier. Even though he is in his gym clothes, he’s not carrying his workout on him.

Must be the blue blood. He settles down on the other end of the couch and dons his serious glasses, “This is the Bengali in me finally coming out. Very Basu Bhattacharya.” Point noted and it’s time for some serious business. He orders coffee and me conversation. And then, we talk about his love, aaj and kal. Excerpts….

The last time you did a light romantic film (Hum Tum), you won a National Award. What are you expecting with Love Aaj Kal (LAK)?
I am not in the least interested in awards. It is a kind of celebration that comes much later. I am hoping for a decent opening and a successful run. That’s it.

That’s it?
I am hoping and expecting that people will like the movie and enough of them will watch it so that the people who have invested in us are not disappointed. I think it is a good movie and it has a good story. I think stories are really important parts of our lives, whether it is reading or watching them or listening to them from an old tailor in Bhopal, sitting at the foot of my bed, when I was a baby. My parents would be on the balcony, talking with adults and this old man would tell me tales of shikar and tigers and how it attacked somebody….

A man with stories! Can I steal him?
Yeah, no! He was about 90 then yaar…

Drat! Okay, hoping LAK does well for you as a producer, or as an actor?
Both. I think it’s more important that it does well. I am playing a Sikh character, and also a contemporary character called Jai, which people may or may not connect to, because of his thinking. There was a little bit of that in Salaam Namaste, where he didn’t want to get married just because she was pregnant, which people did not like as it isn’t the most heroic thing to do. Similarly, Jai doesn’t know that he loves this girl, and he certainly doesn’t believe in marriage and wants to be practical. But the story is how he changes from that into something else.

Sounds like you.
Err, maybe. Maybe, I suppose. But actually, not really. Jai seems quite clear that he doesn’t want to commit to anyone. Maybe I am just making him sound like me. But he’s not really so.

Most actors and filmmakers take trips to Shirdi, Vaishnodevi or Tirupati before their release. Have you done any of that?
(Sounds amused) No. but I believe Dino (co-producer Dinesh Vijan) went to Siddhi Vinayak with the print. I definitely believe in God. And I believe in luck. And I understand why people would want to cover all the bases. There is a big question mark as to what would work, so people try anything. I mean ultimately, when there is turbulence on the plane, and my gut clenches, I do start saying the Ayatul Kursi. Let’s not laugh at people who do these things but I would like to have the strength to say that mandir and prayer aside, there’s a whole lot of other stuff that is in the gray area.

Like numerology? Did you check if you title was ‘balanced’ for success?
No. I don’t believe that much in astrology and numerology even though I think it could be fun sometimes. I find some of these numerologically sound titles attractive. Like Himesh Reshammiya’s film, what was the name..?

Karzzzz?
(Grins) No, that was a bad marketing idea. Especially if the film is even slightly boring. Arre, it was his only film that ran. It was called Aap Kaa Surror The Real Love Story and it was spelled with two A’s and Kambakkht Ishq had two K’s and Singh Is Kinng had two N’s. So it is kind of hip. It has an edge to it.  But when people do it to their names that is not cool.

For a brief while, Kareena was Kariena…
Oh no! Really? I am happy she has changed it back.

So you will never be Saaif, with an extra A?
No chance. But for my films, maybe I would try it. Maybe Love Aaj Kal would have looked better as Love Aaj Kall. Maybe it would be funky.

Deepika is the youngest actress you’ve worked with and Kareena is the youngest girl you’ve been involved with. That’s new!
Yes, it is new. Definitely.

And?
(Smirks) And it makes you health conscious. Like on hand, I will say, “I think I should be much fitter and healthier.” And on the other, I am really happy being 38.

When you are with these 20-plus women, do you feel older, wiser and smarter or there is some connect?
Oh, I connect with them completely. Why it works is because I am quite juvenile and they are quite mature. (Laughs) So it balances out just fine. But seriously, I do feel very happy for the people I have met, the things I have seen, and experienced. I really think I have matured. I have had a really interesting history, even though I say it myself. So if you ask me, being with Kareena or working with someone younger than me, it is a non-issue for me. I really like being me. And I am very confident in that. I am so lucky that I am doing okay in movies also. Because it is another world.

You’ve never promoted a film like this before. Do you find it cumbersome?
(Sighs) Incredibly exhausting. If I see another camera…. (rolls his eyes).

…or a journalist?
No, I think there is a charm to the written word. We learnt early in our careers to speak carefully because the printed word reads differently because it doesn’t like a tone. It can be cold. So you must word yourself intelligently.

Like a text message.
But a personality can be sensed through an sms. I personally don’t like those short forms. I can’t say ‘pls’; I will type ‘please’ (dramatically). And I can’t bear ‘da’ for ‘the’.

Ok, coming back to promotions….
We sat here as a production house and said, ‘Let us make people aware of this film.’ Promotion is such an important part of the film for the producer. Otherwise as an actor, you do the film and then you call the producer and interfere, ‘Where is the hoarding?’, ‘Where is the poster?’.  Now I know that there are 450 million mobile users and 50 million internet users in India and I want to reach everyone. So you get involved in the whole process. It’s better than worrying about what another actor is doing. I see the poster of Kites and think it is phenomenal. I feel, “Wow, Hrithik Roshan is fit, and a good-looking guy. Like an angel sometimes.” It’s not competitive. I am like – let me work harder; let me learn from other people. I put all my energies into producing this movie rather than worrying about what other people are doing.

But you’ve never really worried about competition.
True. Earlier I wasn’t even worried about myself that much as well.

That’s the lazy Leo in you.
Possibly. And it’s also a bit like my father. At some level I don’t want to lose that. When you are successful, then suddenly people start waking up to you. That’s the scary part. I like to put my feet up on ottomans, in Jaipur razais and watch TV and just cut off from everything in the afternoon. But when you are super-successful, then suddenly everyone wants a piece of you. And then they get offended when some top notches of Mumbai society or politician wants to meet you… The challenge is to be successful and yet maintain a balance without offending anybody but keeping your equilibrium.

You’ve not shown the film to your colleagues as well as the media. Why?
I have known you for so long; I can easily call you and say I am having a trial, watch it and tell me what you think. But you are going to sense that my intention is to seduce you somehow into liking it. At the same time, when I have a press show, as a producer, I will invite people and come say a few words and then bugger off. I am not going to hang around till the end and ask people, “Kaise laga, kaise laga.” Because I will be too tense anyway. Even if my friend goes to see the film, forget the press or the industry, somewhere his opinion will start mattering. And I don’t want it to matter.

Won’t your colleagues be upset that you didn’t show them the film?
If you don’t show the film to anyone, then there is no stress. And it is important to be consistent in life. I have never had a trial. I have never called another actor or filmmaker and said, “I want to see your movie, organise a trial, yaar.” Because I think it is more fun to buy my popcorn and go to the theatre and watch the film. The bottom line of the psychology of the whole thing is: If you pay money to buy a ticket, and make a plan to go see it with your family, friends or girlfriend, it is a different psychology than to be invited by me. I am not interested in THAT audiences’ opinion. Someone will be too tense to laugh and the actors would be like, “I would’ve done this scene better.” The producers will say, “Arre, how much money have these guys spent?” The heroines will be, “This girl is rubbish; I am better than her.” So you know there is no barometer.

How do you react when people feel that you are still not established as a solo hero?
I don’t think that’s true. Who can say that now? You are digging out a question from 1992.

No, that is the perception.
What crap! That perception went out with Hum Tum, which was a solo hero film. Then Parineeta was a solo hero.

But you still did Race, with Anil and Akshaye.
Yeah, but if Race had been a flop, it would’ve been only my flop. Let’s get that clear. There are certainly performances that have contributed to the film but I had the most to lose.

Yeah, and even though Race did good business, it was never counted among the big hits. Why?
Dude, I don’t know about that, but as far as the distributors go, they were very happy. It was a 1200 print opening. They opened that film much wider than any other movie of mine.

Also, you didn’t get due credit for its success.
I got the due credit from Ramesh Taurani, who will be happy to pay me for Race 2 and that is the kind of due I am interested in. And the fact is that the audiences have seen the film, and loved it. About the internal politics, I am not really concerned as long as it doesn’t affect my job.

Looking back, do you feel it was a wrong decision to do so many two-hero projects?
No. I have also chosen what I thought were the best roles.

But you’ve even played second fiddle to Madhavan in Rehna Hain Terre Dil Mein.
Yeah but that was not a particularly great time for me. Like any actor, I’ve always chosen the best from what I was offered that year. Some years have not been very interesting, while some have been great. Your aspirations change according to your success ratio. In the beginning, you are just happy to be working. That you have a job, and you have been accepted. Your standards are pretty low. And pretty soon, after a while, you want to be the best there is. The best there has ever been (laughs); you know there is no end to that kind of ego shit.

You recently said you and Kareena didn’t plan to stay engaged forever. Does that mean you’re already engaged?
No. I mean I feel like I am engaged. But I don’t believe in engagements as such; they are a bit old-fashioned.

Your mom said in a recent interview that you both have the family’s blessings.
I am sure mom wants me to settle down. Parents like to tie up everything and they think it’s done. But it is not done even if you are married. Today, marriage is another form of engagement. It is a legal commitment that it is quite easy to get out of. It’s not like: It’s all over and now we can all go to sleep. And anyway it is very important in a girl’s career for her to focus on that. And marriage — let’s be honest — alters your image, your marketability and people lose interest in you. I’d much rather people kept asking, “When are you getting married?” The minute you are married, you are yesterday’s news. And I am not in any rush to get married. Because I am loving this.

Is it tough to manage being together with your tough schedules?
We are balancing our lives beautifully. We are working hard and Kareena is more than a wife, because she loves me. There are so many wives who don’t love their husbands because they are pakaoed after 10 years of being together. Bebo gives me all the time in the world. And when I get done with these two days and the film releases, I will give time. We manage. People laugh at us saying, “Oh you are turning up on the set; she is coming here” but that’s how we manage.

Oh, you are aware of people laughing?
Yeah, of course, but what to do? Initially when the relationship is starting, you want to make each other secure, and you want to tell the world that we are serious about each other. We are not a fly-by-night kind of a thing. So we make commitments on paper, and we say things but before you know it, it gets blown out of proportion.

What if Bebo says she wants marriage?
For an actor and for a working person, it must come at the right time. You must do it when you want to do it, or when you want to have children. We’ve waited for a reason. It is not the 1920s when it was like now we can live together or now we can spend time legally. We can do all that now, without that. People must understand her priorities. She is a film child. She has grown up watching films. She has always wanted this and she has finally achieved it. And I absolutely forbid her to even want to. Tomorrow if she says, “Let’s get married”, I will tell her, “I think you should work for a few years.”

She has been flaunting her ring for a long time.
She can flaunt many rings. I will give her lots of them. Even I wear rings.

What’s going on between you and Shahid? He was quoted saying that you and Bebo were using his name to get publicity.
I am really glad you asked me this because enough has been said now. Shahid seems like a really well brought-up guy and I mean no offence to him. And let’s stop it now. We are both gentlemen and whenever we have met, we’ve shook hands, and that’s it. So I will not listen to anything anybody says. And it sounds so fake to say I sincerely wish him all the best but I want him to know that I have only heard good things about him. And that too from his ex-girlfriend, which leaves me with a sense of respect for the past and God bless him. He seems like a strong man, and a good kid. That’s it.

There were reports that you were offered Kaminey?
I would like to clear once and for all that Vishal Bhardwaj did not offer me Kaminey. We talked about a film about twins. That film might not even have been Kaminey. I hope it is a good film. But right now, I am more interested in my film running. And I am not interested in other people’s downfall because it doesn’t help me in anyway. When Sanjay Dutt went to jail, it didn’t benefit anybody. It just hurt him. So tomorrow, if something happens to an actor, it does not increase your saleability.

All actors say they don’t watch other actors’ films. What about you?
I genuinely don’t watch many Hindi films. But when I do, l like to see what other people are doing and how they perform. Maybe not at a competitive level. Maybe I will learn from them.

Ever considered direction?
Not really. Not at the moment. It is a completely different kind of a ball-game. It is a huge commitment. I like to cut off and stop for a while. But a director is always thinking, writing, then making and then editing – it’s never ending. I think it is a single man’s job. I don’t know how they manage to be in relationships. Is that wrong to say? I think it’s like being a cop; then the girl really needs to understand.

Many would say that about an actor’s job too.
No, an actor can make time and say, “Ab pack up ho gaya and I can go home.”

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