The super-hit film, Partner (2007), completed 15 years on July 20. The comic caper is majorly remembered for getting Salman Khan and Govinda’s camaraderie on-screen. The dialogues too, played an important role in enhancing the overall fun quotient of the movie. The credit for it goes to Sanjay Chhel, a veteran writer who’s also a director and a playwright. On the film’s 15th anniversary, Sanjay Chhel exclusively spoke to Bollywood Hungama about the film and revealed some interesting trivia.
15 Years of Partner EXCLUSIVE: “Salman Khan told me, ‘This film belongs to Govinda. Let him do whatever he wants to. I’ll MANAGE’!” – Sanjay Chhel
How did the casting of Partner happen? Were Salman Khan and Govinda the original choices?
We had an idea for the film, and we were trying to get Salman Khan and Govinda. Of course, it was a difficult task. But we somehow wrote it and then convinced both. Salman was convinced but it was difficult to convince Govinda. Finally, he also came on board.
How was the experience of having these two talented actors in a film?
Govinda’s role was greater and had more entertaining traits. It was Salman’s magnanimity that he had no qualms about it. On the first day of the shoot, Govinda wanted to improvise, and I didn’t agree with it. My idea was that the humour quotient should remain balanced between the two main characters. Salman disagreed with me and said, ‘This film belongs to Govinda. Let him do whatever he wants to. I’ll manage’! You see, he has that confidence in his stardom, and he allowed everything for Govinda. And Govinda obviously nailed it.
Would you call it your most difficult or one of your difficult works, considering you had to do justice to both the actors?
It was one of my most difficult scripts as I had to balance both of them. Salman was quite chilled out. Govinda, however, was very particular about the lines and even the name of his character. He has great comic timing which nobody can touch. Especially the scene where he does the Ganpati dance. He made that film truly special!
You wrote one song in the film, the title track…
It was the last song that we recorded. The rest of the songs were already composed. Sajid-Wajid and I jammed and got it done. The problem was that no one was able to come up with a title song as it was difficult to pen a track revolving around the word ‘Partner’. You can’t rhyme it with anything. And iske aage aur peeche bhi kuch nahi laga sakte. We worked hard and came up with the lines ‘Do You Want A Partner’. And the rest is history! Even today, so many musical shows play the song. Moreover, when Salman and Govinda come together, this song has to be played. It also gives me a lot of royalty!
Many scenes in Partner were written in poetry form. The character of Bhaskar is a simpleton. He tries to be romantic. For that, he speaks in rhymes. After a point, everybody started copying it. It became a cliché in Hindi cinema and people started saying, ‘Ab rhyming bandh karo’! Toh rhyming laane ka blame mere pe jaata hai. In fact, when I got the award for Partner, I said, ‘Aap mere rhyming ko dekhte ho, timing ko nahi dekhte ho’! Waise, iss dialogue mein bhi rhyme ho gaya!
How was it working with director David Dhawan?
He is a great director. Not many people know that he’s also a great editor. I am not talking about editing a film per se. When I or anyone would write a scene, he can edit the dialogue on the page. He knows what is required and what is extra. Hamara likha hua scene kaat kuut ke itna acha bana dete hai woh. He believes that scene girna nahi chahiye. Kabhi kabhi woh aadhe page mein scene kaat denge. Woh scene ko aise cut karenge ki scene mein jaan aa jaati hai. Hence, David Dhawan ka editor ka experience humein as a writer and director bahut kaam aaya. We learnt what not to do.
In Partner, I also learnt how to handle two big stars and their egos apart from how to make scenes work and how to rewrite scenes. Even after the shooting and principal edit, David Dhawan keeps on watching and keeps on editing. So, there’s never a dull moment in his films.
Rajpal Yadav played a funny character named Chhota Don, based on the character of Don, played by Shah Rukh Khan. You have worked extensively with the superstar. Did he mind that you took a dig on his iconic character?
Not at all. He knew about Chhota Don, and I was sure that he won’t mind it. Also, Salman and Shah Rukh are friends. Chhota Don, anyway, was a tribute to Don. When someone is making fun of a character, it means that character is popular. It’s like so many people make caricatures of Superman.
The dialogue ‘Itni Khushi’ has achieved cult status. It is also a very popular meme…
That dialogue was there in the script. But the way Govinda performed, it was brilliant. The crying was spontaneously done by Govinda. It elevated the scene and no wonder; the memes around it became so popular. It is used in political, romantic, basically every situation!
Partner ends with the suhaag raat scene. It was quite novel and funny. Yes, was it difficult since it could have easily become vulgar…
Indeed. It was difficult to handle. David, I and all were very conscious. I believe it’s not what you say, it is how you say it. Govinda is innocent. Salman also has an innocent face. So, no matter whatever they do, it won’t look vulgar. Their aura and persona saved the scene from becoming vulgar.
Did you visit cinema halls to check audience reactions?
Yes. I have gone to see my films like Yes Boss, Rangeela, my directorial Khoobsurat, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, Partner, etc. What I noticed during these outings is that when people start liking the characters in comedy or feel-good films or when they start relating to them, then forget dialogues, every small gesture also gets a reaction. So even a character taking a handkerchief from his pocket will elicit a response! This happened with some dialogues as well, like ‘Itni khushi’. We had never imagined it will bring the house down.
There were reports that a sequel to Partner will be made. It is also said that the makers have registered two titles, Carry On Partner and Partner 2…
I was approached for it. We were thinking and planning. But I don’t know when it’ll happen. Maybe, after my retirement, I’ll be called back to write the sequel!
Recently, two David Dhawan films – Judwaa (1997) and Coolie No 1 (1995) – had reboot versions and were made with Varun Dhawan. Would you be fine if a similar remake is made of Partner with younger actors?
Recreating Salman and Govinda’s chemistry is impossible. They say nothing is impossible but, in this case, it is impossible. Also, I believe that one should not touch on certain memorable and special films like Rangeela, Partner, Guide, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, etc.
Are you still in touch with Salman Khan, Govinda and David Dhawan?
Yes. I keep meeting Salman during his birthdays or for work. In between, I was supposed to write ‘Bigg Boss’ but things didn’t materialize. I am in regular touch with David Dhawan. I may write his next film. So I am toying with some ideas. I am not much in touch with Govinda though we met recently to discuss a project.
More Pages: Partner Box Office Collection , Partner Movie Review
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