Vivek Agnihotri is what creative freedom is all about, which, according to him, means the freedom to create… movies, ad films (not in that order though). In September 2005, this man gave the audience the most unsuspected toffee in the form of Chocolate. Though it didn’t work at the B-O, it gave Bollywood a new breed of filmmaker, in the form of Vivek, who is all set to woo the audiences yet again, this time, with his latest offering Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, a movie starring John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Bipasha Basu and others. IndiaFM caught up with him for an exclusive chat.
To start with, what is a Harvard graduate and a visiting professor at IIMC, doing in Bollywood?
Even I don’t know. Maybe I’m not temperamentally suited for the structured system. I spent a good 10-12 years, in the corporate sector but it did not work out with me. Maybe I was destined to be in media, even though I am not a firm believer in destiny.
What is the film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal all about?
It is nothing exceptionally or creatively different. It’s a very simple story, told very simply. It’s a story of very simple people. The only thing is that it speaks about the ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. It’s about the triumph of the human spirit.
Cinegoers have, just got a dose of sports in Chak De India and its memories are too strong to fade away, all thanks to SRK. Do you feel that the audiences will accept this film with open arms?
Definitely. When we started the film, there was no Chak De on the scene. And just because there is Jesus Christ, it does not mean that there cannot be a Buddha! And as far as the movie promotions are concerned, we are doing more grass root promotions, at the levels of colleges, universities, schools in B- towns. Wherein we are doing hardcore one-to-one promotion.
Do you feel that the cricket crazy Indian audiences will approve of football, which is considered to be a major foreign sport, and also sports for the classes? Did the actors undergo any formal training in football for the film?
Let me ask everyone that if India is such a cricket crazy country, then why are none of the cricket magazines successful? Our research shows that even in backward villages kids play football. In the last five years, many kids have enrolled in football academies than cricket academies and more football academies have opened than the cricket academies. So much so that many cricket academies have shut down. Everybody had gone under training including John and Arshad. I have also taken real life players like Carlton, the Mumbai level coach. Besides him we also have got lots of professional players from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and England.
There were rumors that it was a tough time dealing with Arshad’s attitude problems. How much of it is true?
I don’t know for whom it was an attitude, coz’ the same behavior can be very nice for one person and could be translated as an attitude for the other. He is a very good old friend of mine. So, there are no questions of having any attitude problems.
Why did you choose John Abraham as the lead? What aspect of him convinced you that he’s the person for the role?
Because John is a footballer, himself, and I needed somebody who can play football. And John fitted the bill to a ‘T’.
Despite being a sleek film, Chocolate failed at the B-O. What do you feel were the possible reasons? And have you learnt and rectified them in Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal?
First of all, I don’t agree to this, because Chocolate was a niche’ film it was meant for a certain section of the audience. I was not expecting the kind of response I got from this film. I thought it will go as an experimental film; people may not come to the theaters. But we got a good opening and the film sustained for 7-8 weeks.
You are director, editor and a storywriter. Which ‘role’ of yours do you enjoy the most and what natural instincts are required of an effective writer, editor, and director?
Most important thing is ‘awareness’. I think there is nothing which can match awareness. And awareness doesn’t mean having a good general knowledge. It comes from exposure, from reading, meeting people, traveling. You can’t be biased about anything. As far as I am concerned, I generally enjoy the process of editing a lot. But, ultimately, it’s the direction that overtakes everything.
You also have your own production company. What prompted you to start your own film production unit?
My production company mostly deals with the ad films. We keep on working for lot of clients. As of now, my wife Pallavi is producing something for Zee TV now. According to me, our production company is more of an extension of the creative freedom.
What are your forthcoming projects?
I have just started working on a film that deals with global warming. It’s a sweet and interesting film, which is basically targeted at children and youth.
What’s the status of Friday Chicken?
Friday Chicken is an international English film, for which we will be deciding the star cast soon.