On his films always boasting of good an topline actors
Fortunately, Iíve always been able to get good pairs right from Sunny (Deol) and Salman in 'Jeet' or Rani (Mukerji) and Preity (Zinta) in 'Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega'. After 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi', I wanted to make a sensitive film. I didnít want it to look like a sequel, so I changed the heroine. 'Jaan-e-mann' has its own share of tears and is an emotional film!
On investment of almost 100 crores on 3 new directors
It's approximately Rs. 120 crore in fact. 'Jaan-e-mann' (directed by Shirish Kunder) is more than Rs. 35 crore. 'Hey Baby', directed by Sajid Khan (starring Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Fardeen Khan, Riteish Deshmukh), starts shooting on August 7 and Sabir Khan, who assisted on 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi', will make the other film. Iím trying a trilogy with these three SKs!
On him changing course to thriller and horror genre after making glossy entertainers
Never! Horror and murder are out. Maybe I will make a musical thriller. The last horror film I saw was in 1981-82. I donít enjoy those films! For me a film isnít about value for money, but value for your time i.e. the 40 minutes to go to the theatre, park your car, watch the film in three hours and then come back. I love humor and entertainment and hence films like 'Jeet' and 'Judwa' work for me. My female protagonists also play important parts, be it Karisma or Tabu; they arenít mere furniture!Ē
On working on multiple projects rather than his earlier approach of making one film in 2 years
The outlets have increased. Earlier theatres were so limited. Now that the exposure has increased, the quantity too needs to increase. But itís very taxing and I donít just mean the creative part of selecting a script. We have to look at agreements that are so complicated with internet, satellite rights etc. I guess it enhances your knowledge.
On him being a 'One man army', unlike the Chopras or Bhatts
Partners never suited me. I donít feel itís healthy. Creativity is one manís decision and you get confused when you involve someone else. Iím very clear with my convictions. Films are like my babies
On Salman Khan being his lucky mascot
Working with him is as easy as I breathe. There are no arguments over the price or dates; I donít go to him with a script. Thereís an underlying faith between us thatís unspoken. We know weíre good for each other. He knows that I wonít come up with some subject that will create ill will and that I work totally towards the film.
On being questioned around Shirish roped in due to Farah Khan factor
Even when people question me whether Iíve taken Shirish Kunder to direct 'Jaan-e-mann' because of Farah Khan, I will tell you that Farah is very close to me. We are like family and sheís the dearest person to me. One of the factors was that Farah introduced the two of us. But when I heard just one line from the script, I took two minutes to decide and said YES. I usually take two years! The script was a major point. Shirish wasnít married to Farah then, but I was fortunate since he has now joined the family and itís better for two of us. Now 'Jaan-e-mann' has shaped up quite well and excitement in the trade is superb with record breaking offers. Believe me, Shirish has delivered beyond expectations!
On managing all contradictions and controversies that bogged 'Jaan-e-mann'; like Salman-Akshay falling out over Twinkle Khanna, Salman-Preity tape issue, his visa problems, Salmanís arrest, his hair hassles, sets destroyed in 26/7
Akshay and Salman falling out? Well, I read about it in the papers three days later. I guess party news travels fast and people put two and two together and came up with seven! I was there at the party and I can tell you that nothing happened. But the media wrote about it and it made things easier. The two guys drifted closer to make a point. I hadnít taken a single shot then and believe me either one of them could have opted out! Yes, because of the tape episode, shooting was cancelled and I lost a beautiful set that I had put up for a big scene. Effigies were burnt and there were protests all over India! No one was thinking of me! It was a war between Salman and them and my sets lost out. I had just shot seven days when the 26/7 rains happened. With the visa issue, we were supposed to leave on August 25, but could eventually leave only on September 10. In January, the hair problem happened and my set got pulled down again. Then there was an arrest in March which further disrupted the schedule! Itís okay though because I guess something like this happens only once in every 10 years! If you define filmmaking, itís not just about the finances. Weíve done this as a family for 50 years and we can handle turbulence. Iím very hard, almost immune. Iíve seen so much since 1988 and hence I donít get affected. But you know, one month later when they found out it wasnít Salmanís voice on the tapes, there was no damage control for what had already happened.
On how close is he to Salman and what's their level of friendship?
Iíve seen many people who are bad, but behave well. Salman is the only nice guy I know who portrays that heís bad. He isnít vicious and wicked, heís genuinely good. From the first time we met for 'Jeet' in 1995, heís never questioned my credibility. In the 11 years that weíve known each other, weíve never interfered in each otherís personal lives. Weíve remained friends by keeping distance, a line of respect. Weíve traveled the whole world together and have gained a lot of financial profit from each other. But Salman doesnít talk money. You can put him up in any hotel, any aircraft. Heís miles apart from other stars. Salman is a fantastic brother and son. I got married on November 18, which is his dad and momís wedding anniversary. I always wanted a son like Salman and my son Suhaan is very similar to him. As an actor, I think the saying goes, ĎHe was caught in everything except actingí. Salman has never been caught acting. Heís flawless, a natural, a sincere, great entertainer. Every day is an incident with Salman. Heís a livewire. He canít be a hypocrite or a diplomat. Heís not in my new films because heís very busy. Weíre working on a script together. We always give each other space. But you will see him standing, a passing shot or a cameo in all the films. Heís my lucky mascot!