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    Why Santoshi shelved Bachchan film

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Friday, September 10, 2004
    Raj Kumar Santoshi says he has shelved a film starring Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan because he wasn''t happy with the script - and not because of competition from another director.

    "Not at all," Santoshi told IANS in interview when asked if his project "Ranveer" had been put on the backburner because Ram Gopal Varma was also making a film starring the two Bachchans.

    The director of hit films like "Ghayal" and "Khakee" also revealed that some of his next films would star Amitabh and Aishwarya Rai. Excerpts from the interview:

    Have you shelved "Ranveer" featuring the two Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan?

    I just felt we weren't getting the right script. The problem is options for scripts about father-son conflicts are limited. Either we've the "Thevar Magan"/"The Godfather" genre or "Mughal-e-Azam" where father and son fight about love. I didn't want to fall into either trap.

    Was your decision at all dictated by Ram Gopal Varma's decision to launch and start shooting for "Sarkar"?

    Not at all! "Sarkar" came much after "Ranveer". We had launched "Ranveer" last October. Amitji and I discussed some stories. But we decided not to pursue any idea that wasn't original. See, if I had made a couple of films only, it would be easier for me to take on the job of directing the two Bachchans. But now with films like "Ghayal", "Lajja" and "Khakee" behind me, the responsibility multiplies.

    Neither Amitji nor I have anything to prove. I'll definitely make a film for AB Corp Ltd. Amitji and Amar Singhji are like my godfathers. They've helped me come out of a major crisis in life. They know I'd do only what's the best for Amitji and Abhishek. We're still working on the idea.

    Will it still be called "Ranveer"?

    The title is secondary. What we need is a good subject. Not for a second do I resent the fact that Varma is directing the Bachchans in "Sarkar". Varma is a good director. If he got a good subject, I'm glad he went ahead and did it with Amitji and Abhishek. When my subject is ready, I will do it too.

    As for the title "Ranveer", that was Abhishek's name in the film. When we decide on a new subject and if it still suits us, we can still call the film "Ranveer". What is important is that I as a director do full justice to any project featuring the two Bachchans.

    So what are you directing next?

    A film featuring Amitji to be produced by Keshu Ramsay who produced "Khakee". That will start immediately in November or December. I can't afford to make mistakes in my career... I'm also planning a big project with Aishwarya Rai. I've worked out the details of a costume drama that I want to make with Aishwarya. But not right now. For that I need the right financial backing. It will be made in Hindi and English whenever it's made.

    What's the truth about the Hindi remake of "Autograph"?

    It's a Tamil film that I liked. I asked one of my friends to buy the rights. Now it will be directed, may be by the talented Tigmanshu Dhulia. Rumours about Aishwarya Rai walking out of this project are totally false. We never discussed it seriously.

    She's a very good friend of mine. Since I liked the film's theme I did narrate the idea to Aishwarya and we discussed the possibility of my directing it. But since I'm not directing it, there's no question of Aishwarya Rai being in it...

    Incidentally, my films "Ghayal", "Damini" and "Andaz Apna Apna" have been remade into Tamil. They're now asking for "Khakee" rights in Tamil and Telugu. So by getting a friend to buy the rights of "Autograph", I was repaying a compliment.

    And your project with Mallika Sherawat?

    There's no such project. A friend of mine is using my name and office to sell his project with Mallika. No harm in that. But I'm not part of it.

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