Happy New Year crossed Rs.100 crore in the first three days, did a business of Rs.179.80 crore by its second week and is the biggest grosser of 2014 overseas. Did you expect such numbers?
Actually I have never had a Rs.100 crore hit before and we crossed it in the first three days! The second week has been fabulous too and the film is clearly in for a long haul. Of course, we all want our movies to do well and the numbers are just a way of saying that people are going to the theatres to watch the movie. I think it’s great for women directors, because Happy New Year has broken the myth that women can’t make commercial hits. But if you ask me about the break-up of figures, I don’t get into that and neither do I understand it.
What is the feedback that you have received?
Families, especially the kids are really loving it. So, finally I have made a childrens’ film! For instance, when I had gone to the fish market, some women stopped me to say that their children had seen the film twice. Children have an unbiased opinion- either they love a film, or they don’t. They don’t have an agenda like adults who may feel that if they say they have loved the film, they will not sound like intellectuals. So theirs is the purest reaction I have received. People have found the movie really funny and all the actors including Boman (Irani), Sonu (Sood) and Vivaan (Shah) are being appreciated. Abhishek (Bachchan) and Jackie Shroff are being praised endlessly. HNY is star driven by Shah Rukh, but it’s a complete ensemble cast. People are also appreciating the spectacular scale of the film.
There has been criticism from reviewers regarding the scale of the film is being used to cloak the content.
I am dealing with criticism since Main Hoon Na. Since that was my first film I was shocked, but thankfully the critics were proved wrong. I have to deal with it on a daily basis, so I guess I will go on making movies and they will continue writing about them. A review is a very objective thing, and besides the criticism, there have been great reviews as well. But we always want to dwell on the bad ones. I can understand about my last film, Tees Maar Khan because the audience too did not like it. That was a wake up call and I realised I had got it wrong, but the same cannot be said about HNY as the majority have liked the film.
The fight sequence between Shah Rukh Khan and the Korean dancer atop a 100 storey building in the film was spectacular. How did you achieve that?
Actually that was a Filipino fighter. The casting department really went that extra mile to seek him out, because we needed someone who could fight and dance. A lot of credit goes to Shah Rukh as well, as he really gets involved with these kind of scenes. That is why in every movie of mine he gets credit for thrills. I just write out a fight scene and he keeps adding to it. A scene that is scheduled to wrap up in two- three days can go up to nine days. In that sequence he did all the harness work on his own. And hats off to the VFX department at Red Chillies Entertainment, because it was actually shot at Film City Studios and then composited on a high rise building! Many people asked me where that 100 storey building was in Dubai. I don’t like gory or ugly action and we wanted this scene to be very kid friendly.
The movie may look like a light hearted entertainer but a lot of work and research has gone into it. Shooting the Shalimar vault when it was submerged in water was also not easy. It was not as if water was pumped into the vault, we had to make a crane and lift up the vault and keep immersing it in a water tank. Even the World Dance Championship sequence was the result of one month of hard work. We used to call it RAC (Research and Development) because extensive research went into it, and for every shot there were 20 things that had to be co-ordinated at the same time. We shot the entire sequence of the semi finals over 20 times! If you ask me, HNY is the most difficult film that I have ever shot.
Choreographer Saroj Khan didn’t take too kindly to her caricature in the film.
I can only apologise about that. Kiku Sharda (the actor who did a spoof on the choreographer) has been doing it on Comedy Nights… for years and her character Palak is very popular on television. That’s why we wanted her, but we never mentioned that it’s Saroj Khan. And I must mention that I only caricature someone that I love and idolise. If I hate someone, I will never put him/her in my movie. Everyone has their sense of humour, like Prabhu Dheva came and did a caricature on himself and left, but we will be more sensitive next time. And if she’s upset about it, then we are sorry.