Interview : Kunal Deshmukh
'Producers wanted to step-up sexuality & sensuality in JANNAT 2'
After making a successful directorial debut with JANNAT in 2008, director Kunal Deshmukh is back with its sequel JANNAT 2, starring Emraan Hahsmi and newcomer Esha Gupta. While the first part was about world of cricket, the second installment deals with gunning racket. As the film is on the verge of release, we catch up with the director. Here are the excerpts:
JANNAT exposed the world of cricket and betting, what is JANNAT 2 all about?
JANNAT 2 is a story of Sonu Dilli KKC (Kutti Kamini Cheez), how he becomes an illegal arms dealer and guns runner and how he buys himself guns in and around the capital city i.e. Delhi, how he falls in love with a girl coming from a completely different level of society, Jhanvi, a doctor and the complications that arise in the love story.
We hear you were not really keen to make a sequel to JANNAT.
This is not a sequel. At first, I was trying to write a sequel to JANNAT, which dealt with cricket and match-fixing. On talking to people and getting feedback, I realized that the brand JANNAT is more about love story, songs and the tragedy of the character and the kind of person the character was and not so much about cricket. It dealt more with match-fixing than about the bookie. So it gave me a thought let me replace the bookie with something else. That's when we thought about arms dealer. Yes, thematically the film is similar but it is not a sequel. It is a franchise. I am setting up a similar experience in a different film. People, who liked JANNAT for its songs, for its characters, for the love-story, for the entertainment quotient, will find those fundamental pillars in JANNAT 2 as well and will be satisfied with their cinema-going experience.
But the title JANNAT 2 gives one an impression of sequel?
For some reason in our country people take a reboot, a remake, a franchise and they call all of them as sequel. When you see HOUSEFULL 2 that is not a sequel there are different characters with different names. The cinema going experience of HOUSEFULL 2 is same as HOUSEFULL. Or look at Rohit Shetty's GOLMAAL series. They are all franchised films. Yes, on one hand opening weekend has become extremely important. What a name or brand does for you is it helps you build on brand loyalty and helps you bring in more people. Statistically, I was told all so-called sequels in our country do a good 20-30% more business than the first part. If this film could not be called JANNAT 2 I would have been the first person to not call it as it has nothing to do with JANNAT series. However, when we were struggling to come up with an entertaining title which is when the Bhatts told why don't you call it JANNAT 2? As it has got all the making of the franchise and that only gives you a chance to take your series forward. So we re-wrote the film to fit into the JANNAT mold.
Do you think having created a brand value the film doesn't require promotion and that's the reason JANNAT 2 was not extensively promoted unlike its first part?
No that's not true. In fact we have pushed more for this film. I think JANNAT became a clutter-breaker because we had a solo release at that time. Moreover, that was the first year of IPL so there were no other promos running on air. So, whether it was songs or any other promos one was mostly exposed to JANNAT. Four-four and half years down the line things have changed. There are many promos and many more channels now so getting that kind of domination on TV is much harder. Our PNA budgets are much higher this time but obviously the visibility is not the same because there are many films happening at the same time. And that too some really good projects with good starcast and good budgets. There are lots of films which are coming out this summer (which was not the case when JANNAT released). So obviously we will not be the only product that people will have accesses to.
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So this time around the threat is from other films and not from IPL?
I wouldn't say it's a threat. What has happened is that the promotion window is little cluttered. It's not as clear as I would have hoped it for. There are so many films being made. There will always be a situation where the environment will be cluttered and you will have to face this kind of competition and come up with clutter-breaking story, subject promo or you will sink.
How are you planning to break this clutter?
My promos of Sonu Dilli KKC have already done that. We purposely figured out promotional campaign which is a clutter-breaker, where we pitched our characters which gets people talking about them, we also spread out on social networking media, built up all the hype around the characters of the film.
Considering the success of first part, the release of JANNAT 2 was deliberately scheduled for IPL?
I don't think we are deliberately releasing the film during IPL. The summer vacation is a great time to release a film. Your cinema going audiences wants to watch a film.
There were reports that Prachi Desai and Kangana Ranaut were the first choice for JANNAT 2?
Kangana was never considered but yes we were initially planning to have Prachi Desai. We had signed her on. Her costume trials were done. However, a week before the release we decided to replace her because my producers wanted to step-up the sexuality and sensuality in the film. We wanted to add some love-making scenes and liplocks in the film, which Prachi was very clear from the beginning she was not willing to do. So we decided to part ways.
Do you think sex is the best marketing tool to grab the eyeballs?
Everyone wants to see a hot girl on the screen. Why is Deepika Padukone more popular than Konkona Sen Sharma? Yes people do have their own niches but Indian movie going audience that watches Bhatt films wants to watch a hot girl. So it was not a pre-requisite but it's good that I could find someone who is as body beautiful as Esha Gupta.
So how you came across newbie Esha Gupta?
Esha Gupta had auditioned for some other film at Vishesh Films. So she had come to office before. She has been in touch with the Bhatts ever since. Actually Mukeshji wanted to cast Esha for one of the forthcoming films but as Prachi was out he suggested me Esha's name. And when I test her she did fit the role and things worked out.
Esha is very good for her first film. She is very easy in front of the camera. Hindi comes to her naturally so she doesn't have to struggle that hard. A lot of newcomers find very hard to focus for long hours on the sets. But thankfully that is not a problem with her. She's okay putting in those extra hours of hard work, readings, rehearsals all of what it takes to become a star. The fact that she has managed to sign a Prakash Jha film CHAKRAVUYH (her third film) speaks volume for her talent.
Your past two films JANNAT and TUM MILE were inspired from real-life incidents. What about JANNAT 2?
I remember two years back there was a story in the newspapers that spoke about this Delhi university student who was shot dead in broad daylights in the campus by her ex-lover. It was a very chilling story about how guns are so easily accessible to the youth of today which is leading to the upsurge in the urban crime. This is what excited me to go ahead and explore more on it.
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Tell us about the research went behind the film?
We met people on the right and the wrong side of the law. I met the super cop from the UP called Navneet Sakera, then I met DCP of Delhi Crime Branch Mangesh Kashyap, and one IB officer through Bhatt sahab, who spoke about gun running and the problem of urban crime, dealing of illegal weapons in the country. We also spoke to gun traders, legal gun sellers. I even met a person called Rakesh Shetty, who legitimately sells guns. Through him we also got to know the modus operandi of the entire gunning racket business.
It is being said that Emraan is back to kissing with JANNAT 2?
JANNAT is always known for its love quotient and not the lust. So I think the MURDER franchise will reboot him as serial-kisser. For JANNAT series you can call him serial-lover.
Emraan makes a hot & sizzling, great on-screen chemistry with each of his female co-stars?
Emraan is very tolerant of newcomers. He knows and understands the struggle of a newcomer how hard it is. He is very understanding, if the newcomer messes up. I remember while making JANNAT there was a day when Sonal Chauhan was struggling hard to can a scene. We did 9 takes for two lines with her. At that time Emraan explained her, helped her out.
Despite doing repetitive stuff, Emraan never gets monotonous for filmmakers and audiences alike?
There's something very relatable about Emraan Hashmi which gives you a feeling that he is one of us and like a common man. The masses relate to him and love him as their own which some of the other stars may not give which is why his strength and his numbers come from a very solid base. He's never monotonous.
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Randeep Hooda, who plays the second lead in the film, was sidelined from the promotions?
People will rave about Randeep Hooda and Emraan Hashmi's chemistry in the film. We are holding Randeep back. We didn't want to push the film as a double hero film, as he plays the second lead. The promotion is helmed by Emraan Hashmi. However in the film Randeep does have substantial role.
JANNAT 2 was your third film with Bhatt camp, are you now planning to try other camps or make films independently?
Right now I haven't really planned my career. I plan to take break after this film and figure out how the film does, what is working for me. But even in the long run, I see myself with the camp. I will always make films for them but that does not mean I will not make films elsewhere. My film contract may be done with Bhatts but that doesn't mean my relation ends there. I have made three very good films with them. And the creative freedom that Mahesh Bhatt gives I might not get elsewhere. It's been a very happy working relationship. So before I step out I would want to really think what I am letting go off.
Personally what kind of genres do you like?
It all depends on the story and what appeals me. But the two genres I am not comfortable with are slapstick comedies and horror. Those are the genres that I don't quite understand. But I would love to make action films, I would love to do a thriller, I would also love to do a feel-good love story.