Fascination with Underworld
It is true that I have always had a fascination to make films which deal with either the underworld forces, like I had made Company but this time around I decided to make a film which sets out to deal with the politics inherent within the police forces. The hierarchy will be different when you make a gangster film like Company and a film on police forces like Department.
What is the major difference between a gangster and the police force?
All that I can say is that if a Don perishes, the gang that he had controlled will wither away whereas if Department closes, the system will not at all close down.
Is Department based on any real life gangster who has turned a politician?
When you set out to make a realistic film as a filmmaker, your film is bound to have some real life characters. Department too has a certain amount of realism though I confess it has not been made on any real life character, though I confess that when I made Sarkar, I was definitely inspired by Balasaheb Thackeray and his larger than life persona. If only Bal Thackeray was not there, I would not have made Sarkar.
Were you inspired by the success of action films like Singham and Force, which also dealt with the cops?
Singham and Force were also films that dealt with the cops but they were released just eight months ago, whereas I had actually launched my film Department almost two years ago. I do not set out to make a film just because a film on a particular genre has clicked and it has become the trend. I make a film only if I am interested in the subject matter. I'd rather like to set the trend as a filmmaker than just ape the trend that is in vogue.
Amitabh Bachchan seems to be your favourite actor!
I grew up watching Amitji's films. Amitji is Cinema. I am lucky that Amitji has been part of my films like Sarkar, Sarkar 2, Nishabdh, Aag and now last but not the least Department. It is all about your clarity as a filmmaker and how you communicate with a star, whether it is Amitji or Mohanlal. In Department, his character has shades of dark. He plays the role of Sarje Rao, who is a hard core gangster who has turned into a dreaded politician.
Though you have directed Amitabh Bachchan in five films and Mohanlal in Company and Aag, why have you still not directed an iconic superstar like Rajinikant?
The reason I have still not directed an iconic superstar like Rajinikant is that you need a completely different kind of sensitivity if you have to make a film with Rajinikant and I do not see myself making a film with Rajinikant. I’d not hesitate to state that you just cannot call Rajinikant an actor but a special effect.
How would you rate Sanjay Dutt as an actor?
Sanjay Dutt has grown as far as experience is concerned as an actor and come a long way since the time I had last directed him in my film Daud. He was more into comedy and stylish roles earlier; he has portrayed an out and out hard core action role in Department and will be a revelation for all his fans.
Is it true that you had actually zeroed in on Abhishek Bachchan to play the son of Amitabh Bachchan in Department?
Yes. It is one hundred per cent true that Abhishek Bachchan was my first choice for the role of Amitabh Bachchan's son, which is now being played by Rana Daggubati. I chose Rana because of his impressive height as well as body of performance down South in Telugu films.
How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?
I would say that I work all the time. If you feel that I am very fast as a filmmaker, it is only because you feel that all the other filmmakers are slow when you compare them with me. I make at least four films a year whereas a filmmaker like Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes one film in four years. In fact, I do not even remember how many films I have made in the last two decades.
My next film will be on the attack of 26/11. It will be about the blasts triggered by Kasab on November 26 and how it affected the normalcy of Mumbai. I plan to cast all new comers in the films because I do not want any actor with any image to be part of my film. Besides attack of 26/11, I am also raring to make Sarkar 3 with Amitji and Abhishek Bachchan, because besides the fact that I love working with him, Amitji goes beyond what I think of him as an actor and rises to the occasion, however challenging the role may be. I want to create a character which no one has seen in him till date.