The director of films like KAL HO NAA HO, D-DAY & DELHI SAFARI comes up with a new film, KATTI BATTI starring Imran Khan and Kangana Ranaut. As the film hits the screen today, he talks in-depth about casting Imran and Kangana, making films of different genres and a lot more in this exclusive interview with Glamsham.com.
You are one director who doesn't stick with one particular genre and keeps on making different films. How do you manage to do that?
I don't want to be slotted as a romantic film director or a horror director or an action director or a director who makes family entertainers. I follow the story. If I feel the story is worth telling, I tell it.
So what made you think of think of this film/story?
UTV actually sent the script to me. At that point I was just wrapping up D-DAY, so I was in a mood to do something which was not as dark or as energetic as D-DAY. I wanted to do something more lighter. When I read the script, my first reaction was whether I should do a rom-com? But there's such a big twist in the film which is not there in the trailer. You can get a just a jhalak of it in the trailer. So it really intrigued me and I started writing it along with Anshul Singal.
So isn't KATTI BATTI a rom-com?
It would be injustice to slot KATTI BATTI purely into rom-com. It's much more than that. It's a story of two people who're madly in love with each other. It's about the length that they drive each other, the madness that they take each other to be with each other and sometimes not be with each other.
How did you think about casting Imran and Kangana and were they your first choices?
Imran was my absolute first choice. I had always decided if I was doing a film like this, it would be Imran. I had in fact told UTV that if Imran says no, I won't do the film. Kangana was a logical choice because if you see the slight hint that we have given in the trailer, Kangana's character is extremely volatile and unpredictable. She's very spontaneous and mischievous. So I always feel that in casting, half the battle is won when an actor is somewhat like the character. From whatever little that I have known or read about her, she's always given me the feeling that she's independent and headstrong as a person. She takes risks and she accepts challenges. So that's why I decided to go to Kangana.
Kangana is one actress who is also involved behind the camera. She also went to a film school recently. So on the sets, was she actively involved?
Yes, everybody on the sets had their inputs – whether it was the actress or whether it was the actor. Kangana went to a film school but Imran graduated from a film school. Imran has film running in his blood. He's Nazir Hussain's grandson. Imran was more of an assistant director than actor on the film. Filmmaking is a collaborative process. From the writer, to the editor the cameraman, to the assistant directors to even marketing people, everyone has a point of view. Filmmaking can never be one person's point of view.
Does it become difficult at times to manage everyone's opinion?
No, that is what directing is all about. To listen to everybody and then do your own thing.
From the trailer it seems the film is similar to I HATE LUV STORYS and EK MAIN AUR EKK TU. Do you agree?
I won't say that it's wrong. Both I HATE LUV STORYS and EK MAIN AUR EKK TU were romantic comedies. They both fall into a genre which today is popularly known as Dharma Productions. I happen to come from Dharma Productions. I would say KATTI BATTI is more of KAL HO NAA HO than I HATE LUV STORYS and EK MAIN AUR EKK TU.
How do you think you've evolved since KAL HO NAA HO? How would you rate yourself?
I don't know. I can't rate myself, that's left to the audience. Today I'm not indulgent or immature in making choices. I know that people follow my work so regard me as some sort of a quality filmmaker. So I have to be responsible. I think I've matured much more as a filmmaker now. I'm not that childish anymore.
Imran's past few films haven't done well. Did that bother you?
If you're an actor and Vishak Bharadwaj comes to you with a film, would you do it? If you're an actor and Milan Luthria who has done ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAI, comes to you with a part 2, with bigger stars, would you do it? And if you're an actor who's done two films with Dharma Productions and if they come to you with a third film, would you do it? If your answer is yes, then what was Imran's mistake? Films are not made by actors, films are made by directors. We as directors, fight for credit. So if a film doesn't do well, why is the actor to be blamed?
But when a film does well, the actor also gets the credit.
Correct, but at that point the director cries saying ‘Actor ne mera credit le liya'.
Yes, that's kind of unfair. But that's generally how it is.
So at this point why doesn't the director takes the blame? If that's how it works, we need to change it. Cinema is a director's medium. Theatre is an actor's medium and TV is a writer's medium. Without a director, a film can't be made. It's his vision. Of course, an actor will take a director's vision, interpret it and hopefully better it.
Do you think Kangana's last few films doing well, will help the KATTI BATTI in reaching out to a wider audience?
What do you think?
Yes, I think so.
So then you've answered your question.
But I want to know your opinion, it's not my interview.
(Smiles) I'm as much in the film industry as you are. I watch the same films as you do. I talk to similar amount of people as you do. So, it will definitely help the film.
Can you tell us a bit about your future projects?
AIRLIFT is 70% complete. It'll release on 22nd January. Also, we are in the process of launching three new directors. The casting of those three films are happening. I'll start one more film at the end of this year or beginning of next year.
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