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25 Years of Kachche Dhaage EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria shares the INCREDIBLE story of how he convinced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to compose the film’s music: “You won’t believe, as Nusrat saab would sing, Anand Bakshi saab would write. It was like Tendulkar and Sehwag playing”

en Bollywood News 25 Years of Kachche Dhaage EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria shares the INCREDIBLE story of how he convinced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to compose the film’s music: “You won’t believe, as Nusrat saab would sing, Anand Bakshi saab would write. It was like Tendulkar and Sehwag playing”

The grand action entertainer, Kachche Dhaage (1999), completed 25 years on February 19. It starred Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Manisha Koirala and Namrata Shirodkar in leading roles and was the directorial debut of Milan Luthria. The filmmaker instantly became a force to reckon with, thanks to Kachche Dhaage, and continues to be one of the finest filmmakers of Bollywood. As Kachche Dhaage celebrates its 25th anniversary, Milan Luthria exclusively spoke to Bollywood Hungama about the film, his memories and a lot more.

25 Years of Kachche Dhaage EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria shares the INCREDIBLE story of how he convinced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to compose the film’s music: “You won’t believe, as Nusrat saab would sing, Anand Bakshi saab would write. It was like Tendulkar and Sehwag playing”

25 Years of Kachche Dhaage EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria shares the INCREDIBLE story of how he convinced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to compose the film’s music: “You won’t believe, as Nusrat saab would sing, Anand Bakshi saab would write. It was like Tendulkar and Sehwag playing”

You worked with Mahesh Bhatt before turning director. Were you inspired by his life story in Kachche Dhaage? After all, Ajay Devgn in the film plays an illegitimate child of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother…
No. Strangely, we had started with a different script, and we got stuck. Tips, at that time, was working on another script with Rajkumar Santoshi. It was also about two characters. They asked me to hear it. I liked the concept and expressed my wish to make a film on it. We asked Raj ji’s permission and he allowed us to make the film. At that time, it was a social drama about a half-Hindu and half-Muslim brother. It was in a social context. We put it in an action context. The story came from Anjum Rajabali. Then, I wrote some of the dialogues. The brilliant Sanjay Chhel added a lot of humour.

Kachche Dhaage’s music is remembered even today, and it was composed by none other than Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Was it difficult for you, a new director, to convince such a legendary music composer to come on board?
Tips was making 6-7 films at that time. Ramesh ji asked me who I’d like as a music composer. I said I was not sure but maintained that I want music that is rustic and yet, should have an international flavour. One day, he told me that they had signed Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for a film. He asked me, ‘Would you like to work with him?’. I, of course, replied in the affirmative. Nusrat saab however declined to work with a new director. He was working with Mahesh Bhatt on Kartoos (1999), Rahul Rawail on Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya (1997) and had worked with Shekhar Kapur on Bandit Queen (1994). Nevertheless, Ramesh ji asked me to go to London and meet him. I flew down to the UK. He used to stay in a lovely area named Measton. What Southall is for Indians, Measton is for Pakistanis. I saw a long queue outside his house. I realized that they were there to take his blessings! He would even name babies. He was almost like a saint.

It was 2:30 in the afternoon when I met him. I asked him whether he had reservations about working with me. He replied, ‘Please don’t take it wrongly. I can’t (work with you). My sensibilities are important to me’. I understood and was about to leave when he asked me, ‘Who’s your favourite music director?’. I mentioned Madan Mohan’s name. Nusrat saab said, ‘Baap re. What have you just done?’! He called for the harmonium. For 4 hours, he non-stop sang Madan Mohan’s songs to me! It was like Elvis Presley performing for you. At 6:30 pm, he told me, ‘Now you go and come tomorrow’. He also said that he’s feeling very good singing those songs.

The next day, between 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm, he sang 55 new songs. Then he told me, ‘Now pick 7 out of these songs’. All songs were locked in these 4 hours. That night, I didn’t sleep. I walked around London, thinking ‘What just happened’! I knew that it was a masterpiece of an album.

25 Years of Kachche Dhaage EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria shares the INCREDIBLE story of how he convinced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to compose the film’s music: “You won’t believe, as Nusrat saab would sing, Anand Bakshi saab would write. It was like Tendulkar and Sehwag playing”

He passed away by the time the film was released. But he came to Mumbai after our meeting in London. Even then, he was not well. He would go for dialysis every 2 days at Jaslok Hospital. But he would be very happy when it came to music. He used to stay at Tulip Star or Sun N Sand. I would take Mr Anand Bakshi with me. One day, we went to meet him, and he said that he was not feeling well. We told him that we’d come the next day. But since we had come, he decided to try doing a session. He hummed a tune and Bakshi saab started to write. You won’t believe, as Nusrat saab would sing, Bakshi saab would write. It was like Tendulkar and Sehwag playing! I rang my assistant and told him to quickly get the Dictaphone. By the time he got the Dictaphone, the song was over. This track was 'Khali Dil Nahi Jaan Bhi' and it was a chartbuster.

5 days after the film’s release, Ajay Devgn got married to Kajol…
(Smiles) I remember he called and told me that he was getting married at his house and that he was only calling 20-30 people. This was a time when he had a duplex flat in Juhu. I attended the wedding, and we pulled his leg as he was finally getting hitched.

What was the reaction in cinema halls?
I went to Maratha Mandir four days before release, on Monday, when the booking commenced. Then on the day of release, I went there very early. When I told the staff that I was the film’s director, I was ushered inside. There’s an idol of Sai Baba on the ground floor. The staff told me that they do a pooja every time a new film is released. They asked me to join in the pooja. Later, I stood at the side. I still remember the face of the first person who entered the theatre. He was wearing a checked lungi and an off-white shirt. Then, Ramesh ji and Anjum came. Soon, the film started, and we could hear the claps and whistles. We knew the film would sail through.

What were the reviews like?
They were quite good. The best review I got was from Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India. She gave 4 stars and specifically wrote very well about the train sequence. She mentioned, ‘It equals, if not betters, the train scene in Sholay (1975)’. A lot of other reviews called me ‘a turn of the century director’, that is, my direction has a touch of the old as well as new. This stayed with me. It was a film which was considered an action entertainer then, as opposed to a family drama or a NRI romance. Yet, we managed to cater to both – the families as well as the masses. It performed well everywhere.

Even today, the film continues to find the audience. In Rajasthan, Punjab, UP etc, the distributors have this arrangement that if the new release doesn’t do well, they’ll replace it with one of the older hits. Kachche Dhaage is one of these films. The distributors tell me, ‘Aapki film mein public 100% aati hi hai. Aapki wajah se hamara kaam chalu rehta hai’!

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria reflects on his journey on his 25th anniversary as a filmmaker; analyses his past works: “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’s first draft had dialogues like ‘Apun tere ko bolta hai’. I said right away, ‘Ram Gopal Varma can make this film. I can’t’”

More Pages: Kachche Dhaage Box Office Collection


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