BY ADIL RASHEED / 15 February 2005
He is a 43-year-young multimillionaire who has produced some of Bollywood's biggest blockbusters over the past decade. Still, the unassuming Vashu Bhagnani does not mind getting up from his chair to apologise for a slight delay in the appointment. Truly, the measure of the man, any man.
The filmmaker was at the Khaleej Times office the other day, speaking about his passion for cinema and his plans to launch his son Jackie in a stellar role...
What is the fun in being a producer? Put up with star-tantrums, the demands of the director, the fear of an out-of-control budget, the uncertainty of the box office!
It's just like a mother giving birth to a child. No one understands the pain she goes through, but a successful birth is a source of great joy to her. It is simply indescribable. The same is the case with the producer of a film. The fun comes when you have delivered the baby.
How difficult is it to launch a new star? The gamble paid off with Tushar Kapoor in Mujhe Kuchh Kehnaa Hai, but Ritesh Deshmukh's 'Out of Control' bombed at the box office...
A lot of people were apprehensive about my selection of Tushar as hero for Mujhe Kuchh Kehnaa Hai. I had Bobby Deol, Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik ready to do the role. But I chose Tushar because he fit the bill perfectly. I wanted this boy next door look, a hero who is unable to speak out his love for his beloved. The script demanded it. The film was a hit and my decision was vindicated. Out of Control was not a hit film. But Ritesh proved his acting skills in the movie and today he is delivering hits.
You are still not afraid of taking risks. You are making a film with Khalid Mohammed whose two films have flopped...
Fiza was not a flop. Tehzeeb flopped. Fiza made good money, more money than Veer-Zaara. The movie I am making with Khalidji is Silsilay, which is about four girls. There is also a surprise guest appearance by a big star. So that's why I am feeling safe in making the movie.
You enjoy doing films with David Dhawan. Tell us something about your forthcoming movie Shaadi No. 1 with the director...
Yes, we are shooting for the film right now. We will also be shooting in Dubai in April. I'm here to scout for locations.
What is the mystery behind the suffix No.1, which appears in many of your movies?
Actually we wanted the title Coolie for our movie. But we could not get that title because of Manmohan Desai's earlier film called by the same name. So I proposed the suffix 'No. 1' to solve the problem. The rest is history... Hero No.1, Biwi No.1, and now Shaadi No.1.
The mantra that raunchy movies do good business has been proved wrong recently as some such films have failed at the box office. What do you have to say about this?
It is sad and unfortunate that some filmmakers have a herd-mentality. If Murder was a hit, it was not because it had a few steamy scenes. The film had a good script and it dealt well with a bold subject. Indecency does not sell a film. This is just a passing phase and it is all a result of myopic thinking.
You are launching your son Jackie in a forthcoming movie?
Yes, in my next film. He's 21. I plan to release the movie by end of 2006 or early 2007. I intend to take up the project by October this year. It probably will be a romantic film.
Are you making a film with Raj Kumar Santoshi?
No! We have decided against it. He is a big director and a close friend of mine. We had a lot of sittings together. But things did not quite work out.
How are so many filmmakers turning to Dubai nowadays?
Dubai is very close to Bollywood. It takes less time to come to Dubai from Mumbai than say to Kolkata. Crossing the customs here is just like crossing the border. If Dubai could have a film studio of its own things would be even more wonderful. The only problem is the long summer here. Otherwise, Dubai has the potential for becoming a major movie hub in the region.