First – and the most obvious – question: after 5 decades in the industry, how would you sum up
It has been very interesting. I joined the industry at the age of 16 and have been working non-stop since then. I still work hard today, just as I used to do back in those days, and that's what keeps me and my mind alert. I do everything with sincerity and honesty.
Earlier in an interview to Box Office India, Sanjay Gupta had said that both of you were working on something else and that he had narrated Kaabil to Hrithik quite by chance.
Yes, Sanjay has been dropping into my office for the last two and a half years, and we have discussed a lot of stories. Then he got busy with Jazbaa. After Jazbaa, we didn't meet and, one day, Hrithik told me he had heard a good subject from Sanjay. Hrithik said it was an interesting story and that I too should hear it from him. So I called up Sanjay and asked him, Bhai, tum do saal se aa rahe ho but ye kaunsa idea hai jo tumne mujhe sunaya nahi.'
He said it was a new idea that he had just heard. I asked him to narrate a two-liner of the story to me, as I believe you should be able to summarise a story in just two lines. He narrated the story of a blind man and a blind woman who fall in love, get married and then something happens with the girl. The man had promised that he would never let her get hurt. Hence, when he sees her hurt, the blind man takes revenge on the wrong-doers.
I listened to only this much but it was an instant yes for me. I realised that the storyline was very powerful. The USP of the film was how a blind man finds the culprits and takes revenge. Then and there, I said we will make the film.
Kaabil is not the usual 'Hindi hero film' but a heroic film. Was it tough to translate the subject from the storyboard to the big screen?
We worked on the screenplay for six months. Sanjay and I sat together and built the script, brick by brick. And when we heard the final script, screenplay and dialogue, I knew we had a very good film. With Sanjay's ability to shoot the film in a very savvy manner, my emotions in it, and Hrithik and Yami (Gautam) working in it, I knew it was going to work. How well it will work is a matter of destiny but I am sure that Kaabil is one of the best films FilmKraft has made.
How much of your treatment as a director do you see in Kaabil?
When we were discussing things, I didn't teach him anything. But he understood my way of adding emotions and turning a very niche film into a box-office film with songs, good locations… the entire presentation of the story. But to tell you the truth, I was in awe of his technique as a director, for the way he has shot the film and made the film. I believe if I had directed this film, I wouldn't have made it the way he has. It is a visual treat for the audience.
Sanjay has said… 'If I were to do another film without Rakeshji, it would be like a child going out without a parent…'
(Laughs) That's so nice of him. He really believed in me and I also believed in him, when a producer and director gel together they can do wonders. Usually, the ego comes between the two and that should never happen. I make sure that ego never gets in the way, in any field, in any atmosphere, and in any relationship. Ego is the most dangerous thing and I try to avoid that route. Unfortunately, we get trapped sometimes.
Kaabil was made on a very controlled budget…
Yes, a controlled budget, and I have also sold it at a very low price. So even if my film does business worth Rs.100 crore theatrically, all my distributors and all my investors will be safe. And if the film does more than that, they will earn and even I will earn something.
Today, people are obsessed with making and breaking records, and entering the Rs 200-crore and 300 crore clubs…
(Cuts in) You cannot plan for a film to make or break records. You can only plan to make a good film. So I have sold the film all-India for Rs 42 crore. If the film earns Rs 90 crore, it would be more than enough for me. And I am sure the film will earn that much. What God has written for me after that, we don't know.
What about the overseas market?
Overseas, too, I have sold to all my distributors who have been associated with me for a long time. They also work hard to ensure that the film gets a good release, to see that the cinemas are in good shape, that the posters are properly displayed and the standees are properly displayed. That's half my job done.
You always release your film in Tamil and Telugu. Do you have any specific marketing plan for Kaabil in that market?
Yes, I always release in Tamil and Telugu and I had told (Late) Yash Chopra when he was making Dhoom 2, that Tamil and Telugu is a great market for Hrithik's films and that they must dub the film in these two languages. They did that and it was a very successful attempt for them. I always try to explore new territories and new subjects. You could say I am always on a journey of exploration.
You are one of the few solo producers who has consistently emerged as a winner. What's your secret of success?
I don't have a whole lot of traffic in my mind; I am not racing to make five films a year; and I don't borrow money to make films, so I don't have that burden ke maine kisi ke saath collaboration kiya hai toh chaar picture banani hi hai. I am an individual person. I make a film whenever I feel like it and when I have a subject. There is no point making a bad film. It is better to make one good film in three
years than five bad films in three years.
From the first narration to the film being complete, how happy are you as Hrithik Roshan's father and as the producer of Kaabil?
Both are very happy. As a father, I am very proud of him, that he is my son and that he is capable of doing roles like these. And as a director and a producer, I feel that nobody else could have justified the character and done this role better Hrithik has.
Sir, you are now very active on social media, was that a deliberate decision?
Yes, it was very much a deliberate decision because my entire team is young and they said that I must get on Twitter and Facebook. I was on Facebook before but I removed myself as it was too much for me. Twitter is okay as I sometimes scroll through. But once this film releases, I will stop because I feel it is a distraction.Your films always appeal to every kind of film-goer.
Yes, I make films for everybody. From C class to B class stations, to multiplexes, to Europe, to the US, to Australia. Also, all generations not only youngsters, I want everyone to come see the film. So I make a wholesome film. Since I want everyone to enjoy the film, I don't have any double entendre in the dialogue, and even if I have an item song in a film, it is not vulgar. I always feel that a film should be enjoyed with the whole family.
When will you start rolling Krrish 4?
Well, after the release of Kaabil, I will start the process of scripting for Krrish 4. I have an idea in mind and I will start working on it. As I said earlier, I don't want any traffic. Once this film is out of my system, my mind will be free and I can start scripting my next.
Lastly, what is your message to the trade?
My message to the trade is that you should keep you egos in your pocket. And think before you leap.