You went through personal and professional problems during "Page 3". Did they add to the film's emotional depth?
I don't know. What I do know is that the pain and struggle is part of every person's maturation. I've gone through it during all my films, in more ways than one. I don't know what it's like to make a film without hitches. During "Page 3", my hero passed away suddenly and I had to replace and re-shoot his portions.
Then my own life went through an ugly controversy. Moreover, I had to handle 45 actors every day. It wasn't easy. Every character's spoken language and body language was different. Everyone cooperated with me.
Konkona's Bengali accent would come in the way sometimes in the Hindi. We took care of it during the dubbing. Konkona understood her part very well. I took her around Mumbai on local trains, auto-rickshaws etc. Life in her hometown Kolkata is very different from Mumbai.
Your cast looks very interesting.
It's a huge cast. And I got to work with very, very interesting actors like Boman Irani and Rehan Engineer for the first time, apart from Atul Kulkarni who's been in all my films. But the main character is that of a journalist played by Konkona Sensharma. Why her? Well, quite honestly the film's budget couldn't afford a big star in the lead. I couldn't spend Rs.60-70 million on a film targeted at metropolitan audiences. I had only Rs.25 million.
So you see "Page 3" as a multiplex film?
Well, I think the masses would identify with the middleclass journalist's character. If the masses wanted to see what goes on in beer bars in "Chandni Bar", why not what the high society people do when the sun sets? But please, my film isn't titillating. It's about what the rich-and-famous do in their private moments.
They sing bhajans?
Ha, ha. Not exactly. But honestly, at one time people in the city wanted to see rural films like "Mera Gaon Mera Desh" and "Sholay". Likewise, today people in the smaller towns know about high society lifestyles, thanks to cable and satellite channels. Ten years earlier "Page 3" wouldn't have connected with non-metropolitan audiences.
Why are you pitching "Page 3" against "Kisna"?
I'm an ardent fan of Subhash Ghai's cinema. I grew up watching his films. I think my film is very different from "Kisna". They'll both get their own audience. Though concept wise "Page 3" is big, budget-wise it's very small. I want audiences even in smaller towns to like the film. Again I'd love to make a commercial film if I want to. But after "Page 3", I want to take a break. I'm working on a subject called "Extra". It's the story of man and woman and the other woman, from the mistress' point of view.
Given a choice would you have cast Kareena Kapoor in "Page 3"?
In hindsight new faces were the script's requirements. We needed faces, which had no images. But yes, I'd have sold the film at a much higher price if I had Kareena in the lead. Stars add to the market value. I'm selling a concept rather than a star cast in "Page 3".