By Ryan Lobo, Bollywood Hungama News Network
He is quite a popular name down South and his first Hindi film (as a director) Ghajini is among the most awaited films of this year. We are talking about none other than director A.R. Murugadoss, who in his very first Hindi film, gets the golden opportunity to direct actor par excellence Aamir Khan. With just a few days to go for the release of Ghajini, Bollywood Hungama caught up with A.R. Murugadoss for a tete-a-tete and asked him what Ghajini is all about.
Murugadoss, to start with, with Ghajini as your first film in Bollywood, could you give us a general background of your film making?
Before entering Bollywood, I have made 4 other films, of which, three are in Tamil and one in Telugu. Ghajini will effectively be my fifth film. In each of my films, I have worked with the biggest names in the industry. In fact, to be working with an actor like Aamir Khan is indeed a dream come true for a Bollywood debutante director like me. As for the film, I cannot really explain it in words; one has to watch the film to understand what I mean!
Was entering Bollywood always on your 'things-to-do' list? And was Aamir your first choice for the lead in Ghajini?
Actually, when I was making the Tamil version of the film by the same name, it was actually Pradeep Rawat (who plays the main villain in both the versions and also happens to be Aamir's close friend) who recommended that I approach Aamir to star in the Hindi version of the film. However, at that time I didn't take it seriously as I thought that Aamir was a chocolate hero, and, hence, he wouldn't suit the role. But after the release of the Tamil version of the film, I got a call from Aamir himself saying he had watched the film and that he really liked it. With the confidence that I got from this, I immediately approached Aamir to do the film. Aamir was a bit reluctant initially. I remember him saying "The perfect person for this role in Bollywood is Salman Khan". However, I managed to convince him saying that if Salman did the film it would be just another Salman movie. But if he did it, then it would give a different perspective to the film and story.
What was it like doing your debut film with a superstar like Aamir?
Even though I was nervous initially, Aamir was extremely helpful. I was nervous because I kept on thinking here I am to direct a full fledged Hindi film, even though I can't speak a word in Hindi! However, almost every evening Aamir with me and would sit down and discuss about everything under the sun! For me working in my mother tongue was a cake walk, but thanks to Aamir Khan, I had developed enough confidence to make my Hindi venture. Since I am a big fan of Aamir, I very happy when he agreed to do my film.
You said that Aamir was a bit reluctant to do the film. Can you tell us why?
It actually took him about four days to say yes to do the film. He went through the script and frankly speaking, I don't even know as to what made him say yes finally. All that I can say what that he liked the screenplay very much.
Can you tell us something more about Ghajini?
Well, Ghajini is the main 'clue' in the film. Besides this, if I tell you anything, it will ruin the entire suspense that has been created for the story.
Is it true that you have modified and changed the film's script from the original Tamil version?
Yes. There have been some changes and the main reason for this was the fact that when the Tamil version came out, the audiences' feedback in the south said it all. For instance, in the end there was a duet-song sequence, which the audience felt that with all the emotions there that particular song was out of place. So, in the Hindi version, I did away with that song and replaced it with the new track that A.R.Rahman composed. Apart from this, the end 20 minutes of the film is also totally different from the Tamil version.
What was Aamir's reaction to the script and the entire shooting process?
Luckily for me, the film is a remake and Aamir had a basic idea of the film, which cut down my work load by half. Besides, at times while shooting I wanted to change some scenes, dialogues or some other small intricacy, Aamir insisted on retaining the original. What also surprised me was the attention Aamir paid to the smallest of things while shooting. Now, I know as to why he is called 'The Perfectionist' Khan.
Whenever Aamir has worked on a film, it is said that he gives a lot of inputs. Was it the same with Ghajini also?
Contrary to what you say, Aamir was not at all involved in the making of the film. Not even once did he ever interfere with the filming. In fact, he said that he wanted the film in entirely my taste and that if I had any problems with the language or anything else, only then should I call him in.
What's your take on the physique that Aamir has developed?
His physique was developed as the script basically required the character to be in fit condition. So getting such a physique was not at all Aamir's call, instead, it was the script that needed it.
Aamir is often called a 'Perfectionist'. What are your views on this?
For Aamir to be called as a perfectionist is seriously an understatement. He is so very observant and hard working, that rarely have I seen anybody like him. The dedication level that he has for whatever he does is insanely high. Even to get into his much-talked about physique, he had worked out for 3 to 4 hours a day. I have worked with Surya who in the south is considered to be the best, but Aamir is way better than him...he is simply in a league of his own.
What about Asin? Why did you have her play the same role in Hindi as that of in Tamil?
Asin is a wonderful person. And when I was making the Hindi version, I could think of no one better than her to play the role. She fits 100% into the character. So basically there were no two ways about that...she just had to be there!
What made you finalize on Jiah Khan?
For Jiah's role, we had held auditions for which hundreds of girls had turned out. But, when Jiah stepped up, it was all settled. She was the one we were looking for! Her character in the film is a petite girl who's very intellectual. Jiah's appearance, charisma and the way she has carried herself in the film is simply perfect.
Keeping the numerous edits in the film by the censors, do you feel that will this affect the performance of the film at the Box-Office?
Two or three scenes have indeed been deleted. But, in no way will that affect the over all outcome of the film. The parts that were deleted have very little importance, so, we could do without them. But, as a director, I do feel bad that there have to be some cuts.
The film seems to be high in context to violence. What is your take on this?
Let's face it that, Ghajini is an action film. So there are bound to be a few explosions here and there, even though I wouldn't want to term it as violence. Besides this, the film also has a lot of other emotions like love, fear etc...
What was the toughest part of the shooting that stands out in your memory?
The toughest part by far was the shooting of an action sequence in Hyderabad. This was really hard and trying, as all the actions that you will see is totally life-like. Aamir even injured his leg twice while shooting for the same sequence.
Aamir injured his leg twice while shooting for the same sequence
How important is it for the director to have an idea about the basics of script writing?
It is very important that the director should know the basics of scripting. So that, when shooting he can make the minor adjustments without compromising on the look and feel of the film. Like when writing a script the entire sequence plays out in your mind, what dress the actress is wearing, what is the colour of it, is the shot indoors or not, the emotions that are running through her at that time and others. So if the director does not know scripting he will miss out on these details and the final out come will be totally different from what is intended.
Ghajini is said to be a path breaking film, what do you think of that?
Ghajini is surely going to be a path breaking film because we have introduced some of the new tools in film making, that, till now haven't been used. Apart from this, the entire film is a team effort right, right from the star cast, the director, producer, the cameramen and the technicians. Without their help and co-operation, Ghajini would not have been possible at all!
What according to you is Ghajini's USP? And what do you have to say about the audience who are already copying Aamir's look?
If one has to talk of copying, then, let me tell you that it is basic star value that comes along when you have an actor like Aamir. So, no matter what he does, the audience will end up copying the look of his character. As far as the USP of Ghajini is concerned, it has to be its screenplay, Aamir's new physique and the story, to say the least.
On an ending note, which is your favorite song from the film and give us a strong reason not to miss Ghajini?
I can't actually name one single song as my favourite because each and every song is very, very special to me. One can look forward to the strong screenplay, which, according to me, the main driving force in the film. If that's not enough, then, there's action, story and Aamir's physique!