Terrible things happened while you filmed Dus Kahaniyan (DK). Your best buddy Sanjay Dutt went back to jail….
It was a time of great personal trauma. But it didn't affect me professionally. He features in only one of the stories. But the angst of Sanju's predicament is prevalent in DK in the choice of stories, specially in the story featuring Sanju and Sunil Shetty. Personally, it was traumatic. All of us were f…ked. There was no partying, no Diwali. Even now when he's out the case is still hovering over his head. Sanju is not a free man. It has taken 14 years for the realization to dawn that Sanju is no terrorist. Will it take him another 14 years to absolve himself of the rest of the charges? Even now any foreign country he lands in treats him like a criminal. The same happens with Fardeen and Salman. Anyway, I am happy to have him out.
There has been a lot of talk about a rift between the two of you.
Funnily even now when Sanju is not on the boards of directors for my company White Feather Films people still haven’t stopped insinuating things. It's a handful of monkeys creating trouble between us. Success is a disease. 26 stars, six directors in DK….I wasn't trying to 'show' people. We're a bunch of kids having a good time.
Dus Kahaniyan (DK) looks like your most uncharacteristic work.
This time I am fighting for my dignity. DK isn't about success. It's about my production house finally getting its dues. Whether it is my Musafir, Zinda, or now DK I have always been pushing the envelope. Not being cocky. But whether it's my first film Aatish or my last Shootout At Lokhandwala I've never had delivery pangs. Each time my film went into post-production, another film went into production. Right now, I am only thinking of DK. It's giving me anxiety pangs. If it works, it will open floodgates for filmmakers to do what they want to. At the moment, we're made to tow the distributor's line. My distributors Sunil & Kishore Lulla are going all out. These guys mean business. They’re investing Rs. 35 crores in Sujoy Ghosh's Alladin although Sujoy had Home Delivery behind him.
You sound persecuted.
I feel that way. Just because I don't come from a filmy background I'm given a raw deal. F…k it. I am just content making my films. I don't need to prove myself as an art house filmmaker. Yet I've chosen to go in that direction. At a time when everyone is ripping off films I'm still being called a 'DVD director' What the f…k yaar! Every story in DK is original. The other day I met people from an awards jury who told me they couldn’t give my Zinda any awards because it was a remake of a Korean film. Shit yaar. What are some of the recent Yash Raj films?
You sound bitter.
I've every right to be. I've been attacked for no reason. All I do is make my films. And I'm having a blast. If today I am called successful, my success lies in being able to make offbeat films like Pankh, Great Indian Butterfly and Dus Kahaniyan.
But DK is being slotted very commercially?
The format is experimental the mounting is not. That's because every story has been shot at fantastic budgets. All the stars have been paid handsomely to do their job.
The episodic format hasn't worked so far in this country.
You may be right. But all the episodic films so far are either inter-linked or belong to the horror-romantic genre. My stories are a slice of life. And when one of them ends, it ends. Period. You don't go back to it. And that's the beauty of the format. In the first half, the stories feature the younger stars. The second half features the stalwarts Shabana, Naseer, Nana….
Ok stick your neck out. Which is your favorite story in DK?
Easily ‘Gubbare’, by far. In this story, my dream has come true. I got to bring to screen words written by my idol Gulzar Saab. And then to get Nana to perform it, wow. It's also very personal because it talks about how much a man loves his wife. I miss my wife all the time. I've directed ‘Gubbare’, ‘Zaahir’ (Manoj-Diya Morza), ‘Strangers In The Night’ (Mahesh Manjrekar-Neha Dhupia) , ‘Matrimony’ and half of ‘Rise & Fall’. And what a marvelous film Gulzar Saab's daughter Meghna has made in ‘Puran Maasi’….I'm on tenterhooks. We are damn proud of what we have done. It's shaped up superbly. Two days before release one of my directors, Jasmeet Dhodi went back to Yashraj studio to re-mix the film. I gave my directors full freedom.