Actor-producer Uday Chopra on quitting acting, producing Hollywood films, tweeting and bhabhi Rani Mukerji.
How did you go about producing films in Hollywood?
This was not a strategic idea. In 2010, I was looking to change careers. I wanted to do something other than acting and I was discussing options when my brother (Aditya Chopra) suggested that I could take our company, Yash Raj Films, international. I went to Los Angeles and enrolled in a production course at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the morning I attended industry meetings and in the evening, I would go for the course. It wasn’t easy to break in because the perception about Indians in Hollywood is that either we just talk, do meetings and then vanish or we put in a billion dollars and buy DreamWorks. I was neither. I knew I had to show them that I’m serious about making Hollywood content. So in November 2011, I put money in The Longest Week and the ball started rolling. Then Grace of Monaco followed — it was a highly contested film. Now we are talking of an India release.
Grace of Monaco was slammed at Cannes Film Festival. Does that put you on the back foot?
Well, the opening movies at Cannes are almost always panned. It happened with The Great Gatsby too. There is bound to be a difference between films that open the festival and the ones that are in the competition. Somehow the critics don’t get that. Critics went in expecting an art-house film whereas Grace of Monaco is a commercial fairytale so they were disappointed. That said, unflattering festival reviews do put us on the back foot. We can’t give up on the film because one territory did not like it. I expect it to do decently well in India. We are releasing it in 70 screens. I’m not expecting big money from India. It has more of a prestige value for me.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
Bad reviews hurt me more as an actor because it’s directed personally at you. As a producer, it hurts less because you are just putting together a project and it’s business where emotions are not involved.
Did bad reviews have anything to do with your decision to quit acting?
No, I quit acting because I didn’t reach the place I thought I would. I had hits. Dhoom 3 is the biggest hit ever, but all the roles that were offered to me were like Ali (my character in the Dhoom series) in an ensemble cast. I could have done those roles and made a decent career but I wasn’t happy personally. I had said this initially that I don’t like being mediocre and the day I start feeling that I’m mediocre, I will quit. Most people don’t have a choice. They keep doing the work that doesn’t continued…