Playing to the Gallery

For dialogue writers-turned-directors Farhad and Sajid Samji, cinema is all about entertainment

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | New Delhi | Published:August 1, 2014 12:12 pm
Farhad and Sajid Samji. Farhad and Sajid Samji.

In a promo of the upcoming It’s Entertainment, an iconic scene from Sholay plays out in a movie hall with Akshay Kumar and a gang of dogs as the audience. When Dharmendra says the famous lines to Hema Malini,“Basanti, Inn kutton ke saamne mat naachna”,
Kumar retorts that she should in fact only dance in front of the dogs, for they have paid for their tickets. According to Farhad and Sajid Samji — the writers and directors of It’s Entertainment —the promo sums up their philosophy about movies.
“When the audience steps into a darkened theatre, our film should be able to make them forget all the worries they came in with,” says Sajid. Playing to the gallery comes naturally to the brothers, who consider commercial Hindi films their handbook of cinema. “We have grown up watching Amar Akbar Anthony, whistled to Khuda Gawah and watched all of Govinda’s films in theatres. Today, I can watch Gangs of Wasseypur twice but we are incapable of making something like it. For us, it is about paisa vasool and pace. It’s in our DNA,” adds Farhad.
If numbers do the talking, then the brothers have hit home run, with six of their last seven films as dialogue writers crossing the Rs 100 crore mark, including gargantuan hits such as Chennai Express (2013), Ready (2011) and Singham (2011). Their dialogues have now made them synonymous with mass entertainers, where punchy lines make up for non-existent scripts. And on that front, Farhad-Sajid are a brand to reckon with. Dialogue writers of Housefull 2 (2012), they have now been signed to direct the sequel, replacing Sajid Khan. Once their directorial debut, It’s Entertainment, releases on August 8, they have Rohit Shetty’s Singham 2 coming up on August 15. The duo has written dialogues for all of
Shetty’s films.
“Rohit Shetty has a condition that we have to be on the sets everyday of the shoot,” says Farhad, who, along with his brother, has a way of acting out the dialogues to the actors on the sets. “We can’t provide lines to the director over the phone. Pauses in a dialogue are very important, and without them it falls flat,” explains Sajid.
It was their animated and spirited narration of a two-year-old script that got them their directorial break with Kumar, who they had earlier worked with in Housefull 2 and Boss. “We don’t narrate in a straight way, but with sound effects, shot division, mimicry and voice modulation. So, direction was natural progression for us,” says Sajid. The two began their journey in the industry as lyricists and penned songs such as M bole toh from Munnabhai MBBS (2003) and Munna mobile from Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin(2002).
It’s no surprise that as first-time directors they draw from their favourite era of movies — from the universe of Manmohan Desai and enjoyable man-animal dramas such as Haathi Mere Saathi. In It’s Entertainment, a golden retriever plays the titular role. He inherits the wealth of his rich owner instead of his son, played by Kumar. The brothers have attempted drama here, instead of the usual slapstick comedy. The film aspires to be old-fashioned Bollywood, but in a lighter, more contemporary way. “Being the younger one, Farhad filters out the cliches from our scripts. We are always looking to bring freshness into our work,” says 46-year-old Sajid.
But even in their endeavour for making commercially successful films, Sajid and Farhad have their own set of principles. “With all due respect, we won’t do a Grand Masti or any other sex comedy. To us, an ideal movie is one that we can watch with our family, without our sister or mother feeling uncomfortable,” says Sajid, who laments the slowly eroding single-screen culture, the greasy
samosas and the long queues for first-day first-show tickets. “The idea of going to the theatre to watch a movie had more value then. Now you have so many forms of entertainment,”adds Farhad. At the end of the day, whether it’s through direction, dialogues or lyric writing, the two want to invoke the joy of an old-fashioned, family entertainer.

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