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    “I want to surprise myself,” says Nikhil Advani

    [Interview by Faridoon Shahryar]
    Wednesday, January 17, 2007
    Nikhil Advani, the former assistant of Karan Johar is going solo with his big ticket ‘Salaam-e-ishq’ starring the A list of Bollywood actors. As the film is releasing on 25th January (A Thursday as he wants to cash in on Republic Day Holiday), he tells Indiaglitz in a freewheeling interview that his latest offering is not different from any other conventional Hindi film. And yes it is a whopping three and a half hour marathon…

    What are your expectations from Salaam-e-ishq?

    How do you want me to answer this question? What do you think my expectations will be from this film! We’ve been working on this film for the last two years. Every day of this last two years or so I haven’t slept properly. My expectation is that it get its due credit.

    The huge starcast….How did you pull it off?

    I had a bound script. And the hero of the film is the script. I think everybody else is just supporting the script. When everyone has been given a narration about their role and what others are doing then it makes things easier.

    Akshay Khanna is being spoken about as having the best lines…

    He has the most witty lines. Lines that youth of today will identify with the most.

    Govinda’s ‘Bhagam Bhag’ didn’t find him doing much running aound….Is he getting justice in Salaam-e-ishq?

    I don’t think Govinda went anywhere. When I was shooting one of his key shoots in Rishikesh at Ram Jhoola, there were twenty thousand people right behind me watching all his moves. Wherever we went in North of the country, we’ve had to hold back crowds that had been mobbing Govinda. So he never went anywhere.

    Kal Ho Na Ho was produced-n-written by Karan. And now you are turning solo…

    I have to be ready for that. ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ could not have been made without Yash Johar, Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan. If I was a small part of the ‘KHNH’ team then I should be prepared for the comparisons. SEI in a way is an extension of the style of ‘KHNH’ whether it is in the narrative, storytelling or technique.

    Karan had written the script of KHNH….While you are one of the writers of SEI…

    SEI script is written by Saurab Shukla, Suresh Nair and me. I truly believe that it could not have been written by one person. I think my world is dominated by Karan Johar world of writing. Imitation is the best way of flattery. There are moments in SEI where you shall feel that Karan Johar is very good at such scenes.

    The posters and newspapers advertisements of SEI are unconventional

    The publicity of any film today has to be striking. KHNH publicity had three people staring in camera with the New York skyline in the background because there are four characters in the film. In SEI there are twelve characters and it’s a story of six different couples. It’s a film of moments. And the best way of presenting moments is through photographs.

    SEI music has references in Kajra Re…Whereas KHNH music was pathbreaking….

    ‘Saiyaan Re’ is totally inspired from a ‘Kajra Re’ kind of number as I wanted to do a Mujra kind of song. ‘Mera Dil’ is my ambition of doing ‘Ho Gaya Hai Tukhko To Pyaar Sajna’. You are right….the music of SEI is very situational. At least four songs have almost the couples performing. The title track is a big celebration which is happening in six different places all over the world. When you have a song like ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ which has been rated as one of the twenty greatest songs of Indian cinema, then when we were doing music for SEI we didn’t try to better KHNH.

    The success of title track of Kal Ho Na Ho was enhanced by Javed Akhtar’s lyrics which is missing in Salaam-e-ishq

    I fulfilled the promise made to Samir Sahab during the making of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ that I would one day work with him. And I think he has done an outstanding job.

    How is Salaam-e-ishq is a different love story?

    SEI is not different at all. It’s the most standard Bollywood masala film that you can get. First of all it is three and a half hours. You shall be entertained, laugh, cry, enjoy the music, great visuals and go on a rollercoaster ride of twelve fantastic actors then that’s Salaam-e-ishq.

    What kind of films fascinate you?

    Every film fascinates me. Whether it’s a feature film, regional, world cinema. Books fascinate me. I love the way Woody Allen tells his stories and writes his dialogues. Today it is important that characters talk to each other rather than give lectures to each other. I enjoy Bimal Roy, I think Guru Dutt is one of the most underrated directors of our country. Then while I was studying I grew up on Satyajit Ray.

    Year 2006 saw new kinds of films like RDB, Lage Raho, Taxi No 9 2 11 etc…Ever tempted to do something outside your own domain….

    I want to be the kind of guy who is unpredictable. I want to surprise myself, my audiences and people who are working with me. Right now I don’t have any idea what I shall be doing next. But when I do announce what I am gonna do next then it will surprise a lot of people.

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