You had earlier signed Kareena Kapoor for the female lead what went wrong
I was always fond of Kareena and wanted to cast her in my film but it didn't work out so finally we amicably parted ways.
Did her marriage with Saif Ali Khan came into your way
No, I don't think that is the criteria. Madhuri Dixit was also married when she did Devdas. I never told her that we cant work together because she is married. Deepika came in when we had already signed the hero and she has done a fantastic job. The first thing she told me when she came on the sets is "I will do my best that you will regret you didn't cast me in the first place. She was very confident and was full of energy. She is like the classical heroines and stands in the league of Mdhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai and Sridevi.
First time Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone are playing the lead. Did you cast them because of the gossip rumour mills filled with stories of their off screen camaraderie
As I told earlier Deepika came in when we had already signed Ranveer as the hero. What they do off-screen is not my concern as a director. I was excited to see them on screen and they have done a great job. I personally enjoyed working with them. It's a love story and the vibes of both of them come on screen very well. They look like they are actually in love. When actors feel love on screen there are chances that the film will do well. They both got so involved that it has translated beautifully on screen.
Why a song with Priyanka then
Priyanka has done a fantastic job in a song. She is a great actress and is doing my next film Mary Kom which is a biopic on a living legend. She has a lot of spirit and is a fighter full of energy and performance. I felt she would be right for the song and I was right the song has turned out beautifully.
As a producer you are experimenting with different subject but as a director you make only love stories.
I prefer producing films which otherwise I wouldn't have been able to direct. My temperament doesn't allow me to make such films. Whether it's Bela Sehgal's Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi or Prabhudeva's Rowdy Rathore. They approached me and they were good at it. I never went on the sets even once because they are the genres of film that I could direct. I am making interesting films like Mary Kom which is based on a current icon. It's a biopic. Usually a biopic is made on people who are retired and gone or are not existing. Then I am producing Gabbar which is another interesting film. I would love to direct a comedy someday or a thriller. I can't experiment with the horror genre. I wish I had made Rowdy Rathore. It was an interesting film. Everyone has his own style of making films.
You have been hugely influenced by Gujarat
Yes I love Gujarat and Gujarati food. I love portraying our culture and tradition through my films. I want to keep them alive. I am worried that slowly this culture will fade away. I had planned Ram - Leela during the making of Khamoshi. But Khamoshi didn't do well and I didn't have the finances to make the film. Later I did Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and I had explored contemporary Gujarat. I felt people would have said it's too much of Gujarati. I have been hugely inspired by it. Ramleela was based on folk art which is slowly dwindling. They are the real people of our nation and I am doing my bit by showing it in my films.
You have shown so much passion and love on screen how has your real life been
I have gone through a tumultuous journey and it has been a great learning process. I have learnt a lot through this process. This learning process has made me the person I am today and that is what I try to bring on screen. I am not dejected with life I have learnt all the good and bad experience and it has made me rich as a filmmaker. I have tried to put all these personal experiences through my films be it Black, Guzaarish or Saawariya. I cant reveal which scene or which moment I have revealed myself but I will put it all in a book someday.
Share something about your passion for music
I love music. My life has been largely influenced by music right from childhood. I would listen to radio day in and day out. My day started with the radio and ended with the radio. I have been influenced by songs from Vijay Anand Films, Guru Dutt, Raj Kappoor, V. Shantaram, Raj Khosla all great directors. I would also listen to Ustad Aamir Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali. I realized that music creates mass hysteria. I have studied it thoroughly and would imagine how I would have shot the song. I have always believed that music has to be good if it doesn't entertain people will not go for movies.
You have often been said to be a task master on the sets?
One has to be a task master to abstract good work from stars. I believe it's a myth created by people outside the sets. We also have fun on the sets. I do get angry when my work is not done on time but I love and pamper my actors. I believe they are artistes and they need to be pampered in order to get good work from them.
What is your opinion about the whole The 100 Crore business does it put a pressure on directors like you.
Yes it's the new thing in the industry and it helps the industry in terms of box office collection. But it doesn't concern me. At the end of the day for me it is how I make the film and will people enjoy it or not. Devdas made more than 100 crores I never took notice of it. In terms of money yes it does help a filmmaker to make his next film.