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With ‘Kick’, Rajat Arora hopes to recreate the same success of ‘The Dirty Picture’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai’.
Salman Khan brings in his superstar persona in all his roles. While writing Kick, how did you make sure the character’s voice did not get lost with the noise of his stardom?
Basically, you have to write for a character. At one point you have to forget who is playing the character. My writing can never match Salman sir’s stardom but as a writer I have to justify his stardom.
How did you come up with the defining dialogue of Kick— “Mere bare mein itna mat sochna, dil mein aata hoon, samajh mein nahin”?
Kick is a tribute to Salman’s persona. The character of Devil is very much like Salman in real life. So while writing, I blended these two thoughts. The line came quite late in the day but once I got it, I knew we have got the film. This dialogue best summarises the film.
Salman is known to make a lot of suggestions in the writing process, especially in terms of giving inputs for dialogues. How did you take that? Are you possessive about your lines?
Yes, I’m possessive about my lines as every writer should be but I’m not an egoistical writer. If someone comes up with a better line, I’ll be stupid to reject it. Ultimately all the credit will go to me. I’m quite selfish that way. I don’t like sharing my credit. Jokes aside, filmmaking is all about collaboration. Even while making music, the director tells the music director that he wants changes in the composition. If a music composer can take suggestions, why can’t a writer? I have learnt a lot from Salman sir while working with him. His wisdom and zeal to work hard is inspiring. In this industry we always wonder about the talented few who didn’t make it. We will always wonder, ‘Woh banda kaafi talented tha par chala kyun nahin?’ With time, you realise that he didn’t click for a reason, there were some issues. When you work with superstars, you understand why there is euphoria about them. You see the huge effort they put in, the way they work with the team and make everyone give their best.
As a writer, what gives you a kick?
In four years, I’ve only written four films (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, The Dirty Picture, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobaara and Kick) which is atypical. Usually people write four films in one year, I need to be more prolific. The thing with me is that I want to say even a mundane line like ‘Kya haal hai’ in a new way. If I can’t find new words for this then I want to say it in a new way. My goal in life is to become an adjective. People should say — that was so Rajatesque or that’s a little too Rajatsian for my taste.
What’s your writing process like?
I’m always thinking of the punches. I’m always dreaming and thinking about the character — how will he react in different situations. Some of the best scenes happen after the script is locked. I feel a locked draft means you stop thinking and move on. I don’t like that. I feel that till the time the scene is done, you can improve it. A long time ago, I read a line, ‘writing is rewriting’. I think I took it a bit too seriously. I write the screenplay first and then keep getting ideas about how the characters will talk, and then I do a dialogue draft in English. I write the Hindi draft slowly because I want every dialogue to be important.
There is evident influence of the cinema of ’70s in your writing. Agree?
You know how we came up with the ’70s flavour in Once Upon…? We gave the English draft of the script to the casting director to shortlist some actors. The casting director wrote some Hindi dialogues which were good but they sounded a lot like Ram Gopal Varma’s films. But this gave the director, Milan Luthria, an idea. He said that if we are making a ’70s film, then why not get the same flavour in the writing, so let’s get the dialogues back.
But now there’s an overkill of the dialogues, for instance, in Once Upon…Dobaara.
What I have realised is that when people enjoy something, then even ‘Arre O Sambha’ becomes a dialogue. Like I never thought ‘Bas dua mein yaad rakhna’ in Once Upon…will become a rage because it’s such a common saying. I’ve learnt that when the audience accepts wholeheartedly, it also rejects wholeheartedly.
You mentioned you are keen to write an urban romcom in our last interview. What’s taking you so long?
Because nobody signs me for it. I think people will never sign me for two type of films — urban rom-coms and silent films.