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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Man for All Seasons

Rajkumar Santoshi,whose mainstream commercial films cut across genres,demographics and age-groups,talks to Sankhayan Ghosh about his new film Phata Poster Nikla Hero,his next on India-Pakistan partition and the lack of passion in today’s commercial cinema

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh |
September 7, 2013 12:29:48 am

What took you so long to make Phata Poster… after Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani,which was a hit?

My next film was supposed to be Power with Amitabh Bachchan,Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt. We shot for eight to 10 days in 2010. Unfortunately,there were some problems,and its shooting got stalled. Nearly,three years were wasted and the matter is in the court. Ramesh Taurani of Tips wanted to make another film with me after Ajab Prem…. He liked the subject of Phata… a lot and we started off immediately,last

year November.

You have handled heavy-duty dramas such as Damini and Ghayal before switching to light-hearted comedy films. How do you explain it?

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I would like to believe that I am associated with good commercial films. Whether I am doing a Ghayal or Andaz Apna Apna,I enjoy doing all of them equally. When I make a film I live with the characters,write the screenplay,dialogues and story; it is completely my creation. I go into that world. But I don’t want to repeat myself. Andaz Apna Apna,Ajab Prem…,and Phata Poster… may be in the same comedy zone,but each has a different content and a different storyline.

Tell us about Phata Poster….

The story’s hero,Shahid Kapoor,is a movie fan and imagines that one day he will become a star like Salman Khan. His mother wants him to be a cop. This creates the confusion and conflict between mother (Padmini Kolhapuri) and son. Even though it is an action comedy,but there are many dramatic and emotional moments in the film. In a way Phata Poster is more of a “complete entertainer” than Ajab,which had more romance.

How did you zero in on Shahid Kapoor for the lead role?

We had to have an actor in his mid-20s and my options were Ranbir (Kapoor),Shahid and Imran (Khan). Ranbir’s dates were booked till next year. I really liked Shahid in Vivaah and Jab We Met. I thought he was very restrained and it takes tremendous confidence for an actor to hold back.

You’ve been making films since 1990s. What has changed in mainstream films today?

With the corporates coming in,there is more discipline and the business is a lot more organised. The Rs 100-crore club is a good thing in the way as it brings more revenue to the industry. But it somehow feels incorrect for cinema. The whole focus has shifted to booking release dates in advance. I read somewhere that 2014 Diwali and Christmas dates have been booked. Everybody is vying for first three to four days,how many long weekends we get,and how much money we can make in that. Even when you are writing the script,box office returns shouldn’t corrupt your mind. Today,even an issue-based film is formulaic — the casting and the location look the same. Comedies are vulgar and crude and have double entendres. Even if I make an action film,it’ll be aesthetically correct. Somehow,I feel people are not passionate anymore about making films.

What are your next films?

Next is a period film on India-Pakistan partition. It has Anil Kapoor as one of the male leads. It’s an intense drama which I’ll start shooting in December-January. I am also doing an action film with Vidyut Jamwal.

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