I was always nursing this silent ambition to turn director - Arbaaz Khan

By Hindustan Times

He started out his acting career with Daraar, turned producer with Dabangg and is now all set to make his directorial debut with Dabangg 2. He is none other than Arbaaz Khan. Arbaaz is confident about his latest venture that once again stars Salman Khan as the iconic character Chulbul Pandey.

In this exclusive chat with Bollywood Hungama's Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Arbaaz talks about the huge expectations around Dabangg 2, the experience of directing Salman Khan and lots more.

How is the feeling of debuting as a director with one of the biggest film franchises starring the biggest superstar?
It's an amazing feeling to be a part of this franchise and to be directing one of the biggest stars in the country. I am mindful of Salman's legacy so we've been cautiously and meticulously planning this film. And now that the film is ready for release, I hope the audience enjoys the film.

Dabangg of course was directed by Abhinav Kashyap who was even supposed to do the sequel, what exactly went wrong and how did you come on board as director?
Abhinav was supposed to direct the sequel and we did meet up discussing how we would like the sequel to be. Unfortunately after a couple of meetings he decided to opt out of the film for whatever personal reasons. I accepted his decision and moved on. After a lot of deliberation as to who would be the right choice to direct the film, I came to the conclusion that since I'd been involved with Dabangg as a producer and actor right since Day 1, it would be apt that I take over the project. Moreover I was always nursing this silent ambition to turn director, so when this opportunity came my way I grabbed it with both hands.

How much has the character of Chulbul Pandey changed from the earlier film?
Dabangg 2 is a genuine sequel so we are moving ahead with the character and taking the story forward. Predominantly the character of Chulbul Pandey remains the same but the situations he finds himself in this film are different. There are new conflicts and new challenges that he has to tackle. So in that sense there is a lot of freshness in the film.

Salman is known to give his own inputs while shooting. How was it directing him?
Salman is a fantastic actor and is only growing from strength to strength. He has done so many films in his career already and is now very comfortable with his own demeanor and body language. He's got a great connect with the audience. He is a very contributing actor who always has some really good inputs and suggestions to offer for the betterment of the film. He is constantly innovating and re-discovering himself as an actor. He keeps bringing in small nuances and improvisations to his character which is great.

You guys launched Sonakshi Sinha in Dabangg and now she has become a big star in her own right. How was it once again working with her in Dabangg 2?
Sonakshi's been fantastic. She has been a huge asset to the Dabangg family. There is a huge section of the audience that loves her immensely. Since her first film Dabangg, she has matured as an actor and grown tremendously in confidence.

What about your character Makkhan Pandey? Do we get to see more of him in Dabangg 2 as well?
Yes my character is very much there in the film but since the story has moved forward, my character has also evolved and you now see him in a different scenario. He's got an interesting part to play in the film (smiles).

Dabangg 2 has Prakash Raj as the main villain. Could you tell us more about his character?