How do you feel about your first release ‘Black Friday’?
It is my first release. I don’t know what to feel. It’s been so many years of excitement, ups and downs. I am excited but I can’t express it.
You had done a lot of research, the locations, pulse of people….
We shot the film on all the real locations. We had a team of three people who went everywhere and collected all the material. They got in touch of all the real people, the victims of the blasts to police officers. I personally met Rakesh Maria (the police chief who cracked the case, attended the TADA Court, we got video interviews, press releases, newstrack interviews, got the photographs from the press photographers, read all the published materials, NFDC news reel….Lot of work went into it…
Apparently the High Court stay happened because the film was passing a judgement….
The High Court said that before the Tada Court has announced its verdict, the film should not give its verdict on people who are accused. We postponed the release. The moment the verdict came out, the producer appealed in the Supreme Court and we were cleared.
‘Paanch’ couldn’t see the light of the day, then ‘Black Friday’, did you get used to it….
(Laughs) Nobody can get used to it. After ‘Paanch’ I didn’t do anything for two years. Couldn’t understand why it’s happening. But after ‘Black Friday’I started writing other stuff. I didn’t give myself time to think.
Vijay Mourya has a striking similarity with Dawood Ibrahim…
Vijay Mourya wanted to play Dawood Ibrahiim from the beginning. I know him as he is my friend. He was also part of ‘Paanch’. But you tend to take your friends for granted. I said no, this is a serious movie, we are not doing ‘Paanch’ or something. He didn’t speak for me for one month. He kept at home, didn’t meet anybody, he grew a moustache and gave me a screen test. He arranged the whole attire. That’s how he got the role.
What about Pawan Malhotra as Tiger Memon?
He is brilliant in the film, simply superb. Probably he is more Tiger Memon than Tiger Memon himself. That’s how good he is. And he also auditioned for the role. KK didn’t audition because when I was writing the film, I only had him in mind. And KK has a striking similarity with Rakesh Maria.
Black Friday is based on Hussain Zaidi’s book….How did you adapt from the film?
First I read the original manuscript. I’ve read the book twice or thrice. Then the process was what to keep and what not to keep as the book is lot more in detail. We decided to go with the central case….the blast and the investigation…And only go with those people who planted the bombs, were part of the conspiracy and what the conspiracy was.
Have you ever received any phone calls from underworld?
Not yet. I’ve not been threatened. I’ve only been warned by friends, but kuch hua nahin.
Did you always want to be a director or a writer?
(Laughs) I was always confused. When I came here I wanted to do theatre, I wanted to do something with cinema, I didn’t know what. Then I started writing. I wanted to make films but that was just a desire. But I also wanted to run a cinema hall. Now, I want to write and make my own films.
Even though ‘Paanch’ and ‘Black Friday’ didn’t release you kept writing for other directors. ‘Satya’, ‘Yuva’, you were a consultant for ‘Guru’ etc….
I kept writing. I still write stuff that I believe in. Either I write for money or my passion or faith in the work or the film. So, I’ve continued writing and I shall write time and again. All the work that is coming out is what I’ve done over eight years.
How do you plan to strike a balance between commercial and serious artistic cinema?
I think I am very commercial. I don’t want to bore people. Either you are doing something completely for artistic reasons, then there has to be a clarity that you are doing it for artistic reasons and don’t try and sell it in the commercial market.
Can we see you doing escapist cinema?
I don’t know how you define escapist cinema. According to me, ‘No Smoking’ is an out and out commercial, escapist cinema.