Director Siddique, who steps in Bollywood with BODYGUARD, is a big name down south and has lot of Malayalam and Tamil hits to his credit. In fact filmmaker like Priyadarshan loves remaking Siddique's films. Catch the director in conversation as he speaks about his debut in Bollywood and working with stars like Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the very first film and much more. Here are the excerpts.
After spending almost 2 decades in south film industry what made you shift to Bollywood?
Actually I was getting offers from long time but somehow I was not comfortable at that point of time to enter Bollywood. Also there was nothing interesting (subject or script) which excited me enough.
How you came in Salman Khan's touch and whose idea was to remake BODYGUARD (malyalam) in Hindi?
Neerupa Menon, the mutual friend, who introduced me to Alvira and Atul Agnihotri, always used to poke that why don't I try for Bollywood. And my only reply used to be if I got Salman Khan and a good subject I will definitely think about Bollywood. When I made BODYGUARD in Malayalam Alvira and Atul alongwith Neerupa came to Chennai to meet me and discussed over the film. They convinced Salman to see the film once. When Salman watched the film he was all impressed with it and within seconds decided to remake it in Hindi. And that's how it all began.
When you were so keen working with Salman and even he approved of your work then why didn't you guys venture into a fresh subject than remaking an already told story?
Salman Bhai suggested that it's better to work on a subject which is already ready. Otherwise it will take another 2-3 years to shape up a fresh script.
Salman is riding high these days what with giving back-to-back hits. Was that one of the reasons to bank on the superstar
My first choice was always Salman. This character is simple & innocent and just perfect for Salman. As Salman is a very honest, open-hearted, simple and innocent person. Further it was Salman who liked the subject and characterization so he decided to do the film.
Salman and Kareena's pair hasn't been a successful one as their past films both KYON KII and MAIN AUR MRS KHANNA faired badly. Didn't that bother you while casting them together?
I don't think there is any fault in the pair. So many pairs don't work for some or other reason. Basically for a film to work all it requires is a backing of good subject, strong characters and performances. So I think it has nothing to do with the pairing.
BODYGUARD appears to be out-an-out Salman Khan's show. Why you chose an established star like Kareena for the film where you could have casted a fresh face opposite Salman?
For the leading lady part in BODYGUARD, I always wanted an established and experienced actor, who can deliver & match-up to Salman's level. It was a performance oriented role so I wanted a performing actress. I liked Kareena very much in JAB WE MET and from that point she was in my mind. When BODYGUARD happened I instantly roped in Kareena. It was a privilege to work with a brilliant actress like Kareena.
Salman is known for his varying temperament. Any such experience with him?
No he is a very cool person. Salman is not only a good actor but good human being too. Moreover, I believe if I am cool nobody can raise voice against me. I am soft-spoken person.
Since you are new to Bollywood did Salman guide you wherever required?
Yes, yes of course. He guided as and when required. Since I am not aware how Bollywood functions he always used to suggest what would work and what wouldn't or what is harmful or better for the film. I learnt a lot from him. People may have different perceptions about him but for me he is very understanding. He is very open and we can chat on almost anything.
There were reports saying BODYGUARD got delayed a bit?
Actually we planned like that. In between Salman wanted breaks to complete his other films READY and DABANGG. So to adjust with Salman's date BODYGUARD was pushed a little ahead.
You are the only director in Indian Cinema to direct the same film four times. Was there any need to have directed BODYGUARD in 4 different languages (Hindi, Malyalam, Tamil and Telugu)?
I am no more doing Telugu version. Now it's only 3 versions of BODYGUARD – Malyalam, Tamil, Hindi. Actually I am bored to make the film fourth time. The thrill lies in making changes and presenting it in a different style. And because of that I have done enough changes in all the versions. The Hindi version is different from Tamil than Tamil different from Malayalam.
How different is BODYGUARD remake with the original?
Its not cut-to-cut or frame-to-frame copy of original version. But the emotions are same.
Many of your films have been remade by filmmaker Priyadarshan in Bollywood. How does that feel?
I am very happy and proud Priyan remade my films and all were huge hits.
Would you love to remake any other filmmaker's films?
Every director has his own style or pattern of making a film. We can't imitate anyone's style. And I can't adopt anyone else's style of making because somewhere my originality will get away. I love to be original. Suppose if I remake other's films I will keep on comparing my style with that of his…which will only disturb me. The liberty lies in making an original film.
After Salman, which other actors are you planning to work with?Are you planning to continue in Bollywood?
Right now I have to go back to Kerala as I have some commitments there. But if I get good offers, subjects here I will happily do.
Which Bollywood films you watched recently and loved it?
I liked Salman's DABANGG. It's a very well made film. I loved Salman's character – Chulbul Pandey. I have also watched Aamir's TAARE ZAMEEN PAR. NO ONE KILLED JESSICA is also another lovely film with a good treatment.