'With DABANGG 2 it was less to gain and more to lose'
After tasting success as producer with 2010 blockbuster DABANGG, Arbaaz Khan is once again back with the sequel starring Salman Khan & Sonakshi Sinha, but this time around the talented actor adds a feather to his cap by donning director's hat with DABANGG 2. Despite superstar Salman Khan's towering presence, Arbaaz Khan says he has strived to carve his mark and making DABANGG 2 was no cakewalk for him. In conversation with actor, producer and now a director Arbaaz Khan. Here are the excerpts: How has been the transition from an actor to producer to director. It's a very natural progression. In the film industry, I think everybody wants to do lot of things. An actor wants to be a director. A director wants to be an actor, singer wants to be music director, a music director wants to be a writer...So this is a line where you are not satisfied doing just one thing. But that is not the reason I am a director. I always wanted to get into making movies. It's just that I got an opportunity early in my career to be an actor but I always at some stage wanted to make my own movies and when the opportunity came my way I availed it.
DABANGG is a huge brand so were there fears & nervous pangs of taking the onus of the franchise completely? When I made my acting debut fear of taking a new responsibility was there then also and now when I am donning director's hat I still have to face it. When I turned producer I was asked the same question as to whether I'll be able to make a good film with Salman Khan, whether I'll be able to do justice his stature...so these things will keep coming on. If DABANGG 2 becomes a huge success I'll be questioned for my second film, then I'll be grilled for giving a hattrick. There will be always some or other expectation attached to you. Expectations will never leave you toh uske dar se ya in sawalo se life mai kuch karogey nahi kya? obviously you will not stop. When the time was right I became an actor, when the time came I turned producer and now when the opportunity struck I became a director. Besides directing, you have also acted & looked after the production of DABANGG 2. Was it taxing playing three roles at the same time Yes its difficult. It's no cakewalk. As one person has to do multiple roles at the same time so obviously it's challenging. Responsibilities also increase. But I prioritized my things and gave emphasis where it was required for the film. I have given my best in every area. But I was more a director on the sets than anything else. And I am not saying that I have done something extraordinary because I am not the first person in the industry to be doing multi-tasking at one single time. There have been people in the past who have been multitasked. And if you ask me what I enjoyed the most without doubt I'll say direction.
Being in director's position you could command and take over Salman, the actor? Agar director itna bhi nahi bole ki ek aur take chhaiye toh woh director kis kaam ka. As a director you never get satisfied with one take. In filmmaking, it is mandatory that you have more takes and obviously you have to guide the actor for that. Moreover, while making a film one should forget about stardom factor. On the sets everyone's equal, everyone's involved in their job. A director's responsibility is to think about making the role, making the shot perfect and guiding the actor.
"Salman is a veteran now."
How easy or difficult it was to direct superstar Salman Khan? No it's not difficult because Salman Khan, now, is an actor who has done so many films over the years and knows his audience well. Furthermore, this time around he was completely aware what kind of character he is playing. Once we sat and discussed the scene and what this character needs it was easy to pull off. There was very little in terms of guiding him. He knows how to bring about or make appear a character on-screen. Yes, there were times when I had to guide him so that he doesn't go overboard and tone down a bit. But by and large Salman, Sonakshi and even other cast, who are so talented, in the film knew about their characters. So there was not much of a difficulty in directing them. The advantage of working with seasoned lot is they have a good understanding about their work and know how to deliver. You discuss once and you get the required output. How much was Malaika Arora Khan's involvement in the project? She is a co-producer of the film. Right from the beginning she was there. She has been support system. We always used to discuss. She gave her opinions as well. If I liked something I used to discuss with her. So, she was there more as a sounding board. I won't say she was creatively involved in the film because that's not her job, not her domain or her area and I didn't want her to do so.
DABANGG 2 must have been one homely environment? Yes it is easy and advantageous to work with your family. Salman is such a big star...but we never went on the sets with that attitude. On the sets Salman was a superstar actor and I was a debutant director. We always kept that equation. Even If we had difference of opinions we used to convince each other. He never put his superstardom over me. We never fought. After 'Munni' in DABANGG now 'Fevicol Se' is a big rage in DABANGG 2? Since DABANGG music was huge hit there were humungous expectations with the second installment. And because of that we always had pressure of surpassing DABANGG music. We wanted something terrific and luckily we achieved that. I am happy that like DABANGG, people are appreciating DABANGG 2 music as well.
Was it deliberate to have 'Fevicol Se' song considering 'Munni''s success? No it was not deliberate. It was very much required as per the film's theme as we were taking the franchise forward. When we take the film ahead it is essential that the series should look same. Every film has its own temperament.
From DABANGG to DABANGG 2 how has Sonakshi Sinha evolved as an actor? Sonakshi Sinha is a born talent. But today she is altogether a different person. When she came (in the first part) her talent was in raw form. Today, after back-to-back successes, she is an established actor. There's a certain confidence in her. When you are at debut level there are apprehensions about acceptability but once you click that there's no looking back. Success ek badi kamal cheez hoti hai aadmi ko alag hi confidence level pe pahucha deti hai.
Do you still ask for Salman's advice? For DABANGG 2 you took his assistance? Now Salman Bhai has given us freedom to do things on our own. That stage has gone where we used go and seek for his advice in every petty thing. Nevertheless, his support is always there, he is always there when we need him. He is so experienced and knows the in & out of the industry so taking his advice gives us confidence.
"It was not just about adding 2 to DABANGG..."
Considering Salman Khan's stature and with positive reviews around, DABANGG 2 is touted to touch 300 crore mark? More than Salman I am excited for the film as it's my debut as director. Salman is like a veteran now. He has seen such level of success many a times. He is used to seeing it. He is going to be normal but I might go a little overboard & overexcited.
Is DABANGG 2 just about Salman Khan and franchise? Directing a franchise like DABANGG, in a way, is a great advantage that you straight start out a film that has been accepted, it has its loyalty base, it has a huge start. But there is such a legacy to this film that when you are directing a film like that you probably have less to gain and more to lose. So there were lots of challenges involved. Just because it was DABNAGG 2, sequel to 2010 hit, a good release date, there was Salman Khan involved it will work on its own was not the case. It was not just about adding 2 to DABANGG. I have worked in my own style and worked very hard for it. My concentration was to get noticed through my work. Like people say the film will do certain number of business in Salman's name and after that if it works it is because of the film. So my concentration was primarily on the acknowledgement of people that Arbaaz has also put his efforts.