It’s the moment any journalist would avoid. Interviewing the producer of a film while the Censors are watching it to give their certification. Arbaaz Khan sends me a text message to call him at an unusual timing. It was 4.30pm. An unexpected text puts me in frenzy. I call him at 4.38 for the interview and off he goes in a flash on the other end. His voice sounds rapacious when he talks about his brother Salman Khan, his interest in Dabangg sounds obsessive, when he talks about his wife Malaika Arora Khan, he sounds unperturbed but then again, when I talk about his father Salim Khan he jumps back putting you in a scratchy situation. In short, Arbaaz Khan is like an eagle. He knows his job and hits you at the right time at the right place without you knowing its consequences. The result is obvious – The day he announced Dabangg, other biggies got unnerved and changed their release dates and made way for the Salman starrer. All the above defines a word called ‘Producer’. In the words of Bob Weinstein, Hollywood’s most famous producer, “Don’t let your fear paralyze you. Prepare yourself not only technically but also emotionally.” UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent talks to the first time producer Arbaaz Khan who can’t wait to unleash his creation – The fearless Dabangg.
Da ‘bang’ of Dabangg
The first promo is a culmination of a lot of things. It’s not just a very well cut promo. It’s got a lot to do with the look of the film, the characters, the dialogues, production values. When there is a need for a film like Dabangg, you know nothing can stop it. People have been watching a lot of multiplex, frothy, new age cinema. Good. But here comes a rustic, rooted and the typical masala film of the 1990s where the hero is going to bash up all the baddies. There was a special intent to cut such a promo.God has been kind and I love this overwhelming response. The day the first promo came out; a tidal wave has been created.
I knew that the forty minute narration had a big potential. Abhinav was also looking for a producer and I gave him an offer which he couldn’t refuse
Production was always at the back of my mind. It was something that I wanted to embark on. So when Abhinav Kashyap came with an offer, Dabangg became a catalyst and made me want to start my production house with it. I liked what Abhinav had narrated to me when he came up with the raw stage of just the idea. But I knew that the forty minute narration had a big potential. He was also looking for a producer and I gave him an offer which he couldn’t refuse (laughs). I told him to relax and watch how Dabangg creates a bang which he would not have even seen thought of.
Salman ‘Chulbul’ Khan
Salman is always different in each of his films. He has grown in all his films in spite of few of his films doing not so good. There are films in which you are very good because you are a trained actor. But not all roles you do fit like a glove. No. Actors do a role for many reasons. Personal, friendly, professional, business, etc. And then there are roles like Chulbul Pandey where actors say that this is it, the role of a lifetime. A role which excites them, a role in which they can sink their teeth in, a role which they were waiting for. Salman did just that. He got so submerged into the role, the result is out for you to see. Salman enjoyed every bit of Chulbul and took it to another level.
Salman enjoyed every bit of Chulbul and took it to another level
Sonakshi ‘Sexy’ Sinha
Sonakshi was completely Salman’s choice for Dabangg. We could’ve gone and made this film with an established actress but we decided not to. Then the questions: What if we take a new girl? What are the positives if we take a new face? Will a new face have the looks, the talent, the appeal, etc. So when Salman met Sonakshi at Amrita Arora’s sangeet, he came up to me and said, “We’ve got the new girl”. I asked him, “Who?” and he replied, “Sonakshi.” I was stunned. I wanted to start the next day itself. Sonakshi is a dear family friend of ours since many years and then being Shatrughan Sinha‘s daughter just doubles it up. She did have some training learning the dialect and all but she was a thorough professional from day one. She is brilliant.
Malaika ‘Munni’ Arora Khan
Yes, Munni is a hit, isn’t she? (Laughs). Thanks to me too because I have a hand too in her selection. Every song she does, she takes my feedback. If the song is not good, even if a big star does it, it will go unheard. It’s not that she is dancing with SRK or somebody else. Why a song does well? I personally believe even if Malaika was not there in ‘Munni’ number, it would still have been a hit. Choreography, Salman’s entry and Malaika took the song to another level but the overall credit has to go to the music director.
Sonakshi was a thorough professional from day one. She is brilliant.
Sohail ‘contribution’ Khan
Yes, Sohail has given a lot of inputs in Dabangg. Sohail was very much involved in this film. He wasn’t so much involved creatively. But cinema isn’t alone about creativity. It is about the business too. There is administration aspect too without which you cannot make a movie. Sohail’s entire support for Dabangg came from his expertise in business, in getting things organised. I garnered support from him.
Arbaaz ‘twitter’ Khan
No, no, no. I am on twitter thanks to Mr. Salman Khan. Twitter should thank Salman too (laughs). I’ve had some great response from the networking sites. You have to use these sites to promote your film and what’s wrong? I will do my films publicity to get the visibility and will go to any extent in doing so because my money is at stake. I am not apologetic and this isn’t a promotional gimmick. You have to get people to see your film and Twitter is just a medium through which we are making sure it happens.
Salim ‘writer’ Khan
Only Salman has worked in the script written by my father so far. It was Patthar Ke Phool. My dad has not been completely involved with writing but he has either doctored it or given a suggestion. How much of that we take is our decision. My dad is now retired and we want him to enjoy his life. He has worked hard and has been at his peak while he was working with Javed Akhtar as Salim-Javed. Now all a father wants is his sons to progress and we are doing just that. My dad is not at a stage where he has to run around and please the people only because they want to write better. But you never know, may be in a near future Sohail and I might have a script which we’d want my dad to do.