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    Vivek, Ash met during my film: Samir Karnik

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Friday, August 13, 2004
    Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai hardly knew each other when they came together to act in "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na", says director Samir Karnik adding he was "very strict" with them.

    "The nature of their personal relationship never colored my judgment. I''''m very strict on the set," Karnik told IANS in an interview. The film released Friday.

    The movie also stars the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, but the director who makes his debut with this film said he was never in awe of his cast. Excerpts:

    Are you tense?

    Not yet. I guess so far I've been too busy trying to complete and ready the film for release. There was a bit of a delay. We started shooting in November 2002. By March end, we had completed half the film. In April we were supposed to start a 45-day schedule when my leading lady injured herself. Vivek's accident also caused some delay. Then Bachchan's father passed away and he couldn't shoot for a while.

    Why is it called "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na"?

    Earlier it was called "Kyun Ho Gaya Na Pyar". We knocked off the last word. So many films have the word Pyar in their title. We put some attitude into the title.

    Why a sweet romantic film?

    Why not? This is the only story I had to tell at that point of time.

    Did Vivek and Aishwarya know each other when they began working together in your film?

    No. I introduced Vivek and Aishwarya on my set. That's when they met for the first time. Aishwarya had already shot with me for two days. Vivek came over to my set after shooting an additional song for "Saathiya". My signing them had nothing to do with their off screen chemistry. Vivek suited the character really well. He plays a cynical brat.

    You didn't sign "Vivek" because he was a friend?

    It wasn't as if were inseparable buddies or anything. We met for this film after 10 years. He showed an interest in my script. I narrated it to him in Goa and he was on.

    As for Aishwarya, I thought it would be an impossible task. I didn't know whom to ask. I sent innumerable messages to her secretary. After six weeks I finally got an appointment. She heard me out for full three hours. At the end of it she said she was doing the film. I was shocked. I don't think she usually says yes so quickly. So there must be something special about my script. As a newcomer I was very touched by the faith she showed in me.

    And Bachchan?

    I kept sending him fax messages. Until he agreed to hear me out. At the end of it, he said okay. There were date problems. But they were solved.

    Were you in awe of your cast?

    Never! I treated every actor as the character he or she was playing. I've great respect for my stars, but no awe please. It was my first experience of cinema. And I did what felt right. I had no links with the industry.

    Are you burdened by people's expectations from the Vivek-Aishwarya pair?

    Not at all. I've done what was required. No matter what the reason, the audience should come to see the film. They can come to see Vivek and Aishwarya. But they should like the film also. I'd be happy with that. On the sets I treated them like two actors playing my protagonists. The nature of their personal relationship never coloured my judgement. I'm very strict on the set.

    I've given my hundred percent to "Kyun! Ho Gaya Na". Given another chance I wouldn't change anything. I feel I've undergone a two-year exam. Now I'm waiting for the results. No one behaves in an expected manner. Om Puri is funny. But he isn't Johnny Lever. There's nothing loud about my film. No banana peel and egg-in-the-face jokes. When I don't enjoy such humor, why should I use it?

    What next?

    I've two options, a comedy and an adventure love story. I just have to zero in on the cast and crew.

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