People wonder if "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" (MSK) is the reinvention of David Dhawan?
Ha ha. Yes and no. Of course, I've changed with the times, one has to. But my trademark style remains unchanged in its basics. Why should I change when my style has kept me going for so many years? No, I'll never change that. MSK looks different from my other films. I've worked much harder on the film's look and music. So far, I've targeted all my films at the masses. But now I've started looking at what audiences in the multiplexes want. Admittedly, they look for the same things as audiences in single theatres. But a little more sophistication. I've given them that.
So are you looking for a new audience?
I'd never make a film that would put off my hard core audience. David Dhawan is what he is today because of them. We talk of new cinema. But it's the old style that still turns on the audience. I can't make a "Spider-Man" in India even if I tried. We can't afford it. But there're so many other things that I can do over here, so I'm not complaining. Cinema is a vast ocean. After so many years in the industry I think I've so much to learn and so much to give.
Was it difficult handling two stars like Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan in MSK?
It was amazing to get Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar to work together. And even more amazing to watch them work so comfortably together. Though they play rivals in the film, there's no element of rivalry between them in real life. I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to work with these guys. With Salman I had worked many times before -- Salman and I've done "Judwaa" and "Biwi No 1". We can communicate without words on the sets. I discovered we're still capable of coming up with surprises. His rapport with Akshay is the USP in "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi".
Akshay was new. We had worked together just once together in "Mr & Mrs Khiladi". What I liked is that he really respected Salman. There was an air of a picnic on the sets. We never realized when we started and when we ended. You'll see all the actors in my film -- Akshay, Salman, Kader Khan, Amrish Puri -- as never before. And Priyanka Chopra with whom I've worked for the first time, was just the right influence on the two badmaash boys (Salman and Akshay). It was great fun.
You're now directing Salman in the latter's home production"
Yes. We haven't named the film as yet. Besides Salman and Katrina Kaif, I'm working with Sushmita again after "Biwi No.1" and with Arshad Warsi for the first time. They're both so refreshing. And Katrina! She's an incredibly good looking girl. I haven't seen so much beauty on screen before. She's going to give the other girls a run for their money. Yes, it's inspired by "Cactus Flower". But we can't have "Cactus Flower" in Hindi. It's a completely new script.
Do you think comedies aren't taken seriously in India?
We need laughter in our lives. That's why action films aren't doing well. Now even Karan Johar's productions have comic subplots in them. I agree my comic formula got a little stale. I realised there was a sameness in all my comedies. I realized I had to win a new generation of audiences and also fight a whole new breed of filmmakers who were in touch with the pulse of the youth.
For someone of age and experience it's very difficult to find a new voice of expression. But I decided to reinvent my style. My family and friends helped me do that. My 20-year old son in America pushed me into experiencing cinema the world over. I realized the look and the feel of cinema had changed everywhere. I was willing to learn. I adapted myself very quickly. Now I feel I'm part of the younger generation. My son is learning filmmaking in the US. He's here for his summer vacations and he's assisting me on my new Salman-Katrina film.
Is "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" your most youthful film to date?
We have used the "Bay watch" beach side looks, the colors, sand and sounds. But the masses won't know the difference. I'll fool them good and proper ha ha. The entertainment ratio is the same. But the essence of satire has been lowered. The performances are less aggressive. It's classy and massy. You and your driver would both love the film. My writer Anees Bazmi and I worked so well in the past. Then he went away to direct his own films. Now he's back with me. You know, a full-fledged comedy is an impossibility in these parts. There has to be a note of seriousness somewhere in the comedy. "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" has it.
How was it making a film for Sajid Nadiadwala?
We already made "Judwaa" with Salman together. All three of us have changed since then, and so have audiences. At a time when relations between producers and directors are going for a toss, Sajid behaved like a younger brother throughout. He let me do whatever I wanted. He was so accommodating, told me I wasn't used properly in my recent films, urged me to find my bearings again. He just opened his coffers, even decided to recreate Goa in Film City (Mumbai) when he felt we'd work together on a set.
Are you ready to go international?
You know, I feel that in mood and look my comedy is a lot like the small Hollywood comedies. I've two hours and 30 minutes of comedy to give in every film whereas they've only 90 minutes of the stuff to offer. If I go abroad, I'm sure to do a damned good job. Now I won't be making two films a year. I'm taking it easy, re-learning and finding my bearings all over again. I'm sure I'll soon make a film abroad.
Do you miss working with Govinda?
People think our pair has split. But this isn't true. I met him recently and told him that we must work together again. I'm working on a bright new idea. What we did together can never be replicated by anyone. Not even by me with any other actor. We'll surprise everyone very soon.
What are you thoughts now?
All these years as a filmmaker and I've never caused anyone trouble, never delayed any producer's project. Even the little run-in I had with Ajay Devgan was soon resolved. We worked in "Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin". The film flopped. But our relations improved. At times things go wrong... But by God! I'm looking at a much larger picture now. I want to make an emotional film. Remember my "Swarg" with Rajesh Khanna and Govinda? If I get a subject like that, I'd immediately make an emotional film.
Right now I'm very happy about "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi". Everybody says it's going to do well. Seriously, in my career of 35 films no film has got such attention. After so many years I'm still here directing movies. What more could I ask for. I feel wonderful. God is great.