The big Diwali release, Housefull 4, passed the crucial test on Monday. Starring Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Bobby Deol, Kriti Sanon, Kriti Kharbanda and Pooja Hegde, it released in the pre-Diwali period on Friday October 25. Hence, the collections on first two days were low while the earnings on Diwali day, Sunday October 27, dropped further. This was expected but what no one was prepared for the way collections dramatically jumped on Monday, October 28, when audiences finally came out in hordes to see this reincarnation comedy.
In an exclusive interview to Bollywood Hungama, director Farhad Samji opens up about the film’s box office performance, the love he has received from the aam junta, challenges faced while writing and a lot more:
Congratulations on the big Monday jump! What was it like to see collections at lower levels for the first three days followed by Rs. 30 core plus earnings on day 4?
It was a bit of waiting game for us, because of pre-Diwali. We were waiting eagerly for Monday. And then the collections went on such a high that tickets were even sold in black. We knew that film badi daud maaregi. But we expected collections to touch Rs. 25 crore or at max Rs. 30 crore. Instead, the earnings went upto Rs. 35.46 crore. It’s the highest one-day collections of an Akshay Kumar film. I am privileged that I did this film and that I was a part of a landmark moment in his career.
Before I ask anything further, I am very curious to discuss three of the most important characters of the film, the pigeons named Neil, Nitin and Mukesh! Could you tell us more about it and whether the real Neil Nitin Mukesh was kept in the loop about this track?
Of course he was aware and anyway, the joke was in good taste. He’s a very dear friend who has worked with me in Golmaal Again. He was more than thrilled to have his reference and this shows his large heartedness. Toh kahin na kahin Neil Nitin Mukesh ka bhi punar janam hua aur hamara faayda ho gaya! The fact that you asked me about this immediately after the collections shows that the punchline has worked!
Almost 6 writers have been credited for the film’s screenplay. Also, this was the first reincarnation story for you and the first reincarnation comedy ever, in Bollywood at least. What were the challenges for you and your team like?
Yes we had a team of writers comprising of me, Aakash Kaushik, Madhur Sharma, Tushar Hiranandani, Sparsh Khetarpal and Tasha Bhambra, although the story of the film was by Sajid Nadiadwala. The road to success is always under construction and same goes for the road to writing. You might write the best of drafts but 10 days later, you might feel its crap. Audiences ko jab hasana hota hai toh aap zyada kahani nahi bata sakte ho. Or else the humour goes flat. Here, it was a challenge how to proceed with the story and at the same time tickle audiences’ funny bone.
I have written 40 films till now. Around 17 films of mine have crossed Rs. 100 crore. I have been writing commercial comedies right from the time of Ready, Chennai Express, Golmaal etc. I knew my sur was right in Housefull 4. I won’t say I was over confident but I knew ki yeh cheez galat nahi hai. Kitni sahi hai, woh audience ke upar tha. And the collections on Monday have proved that they have enjoyed the writing. In fact, I was just talking to my ADs on phone and I told them that we have to change the lines of the ‘Bala’ song to ‘It’s all about public ka bol baala’!”
Could you tell us how much did Baahubali inspire the film? The period look and setting and also the opening credits heavily reminded of that film. Baahubali’s producer Shobu Yarlagadda has always been a Special Thanks mention in the beginning…
The writing works better when you have a reference so that public can relate to it. However, we have not spoofed Baahubali as that would have lowered our credibility. Today, I can openly say that we writers are inspired by Rajkumar Hirani and by films like Lagaan, Gadar, Sholay, Mother India etc. These films are like Bible for us and in all my scripts, there will be some degree of influence of these movies. Hence, if I am working on a period setting, Baahubali comes to the mind immediately. Even in the scene where Bala gets kicked out, we took the essence of Baahubali’s title song. Otherwise, the punar janam bit is completely different.
Have you visited single screen cinemas to check out audience’s reaction? How was the experience?
I have just come out for that. I couldn’t go before as last 15 days were hectic as we had to send the copies for domestic and international release. I was away from the family for this DCP work. So it’s only now that I have got time to make the rounds of theatres. Kriti Sanon however sent me videos of audience reaction at Gaiety-Galaxy theatre. Shorgul toh kamal hai wahaan pe. Wahan toh patle se patle aadmi ka bhi seena chauda ho jaata hai! And my happiness knows no bounds kyunki main 600 saal se laga hoon iss picture ko banane mein!”
What is the best compliment you have got for the film?
We always have bound scripts but in case of Housefull 4, the film went on floors and yet, we hadn’t cracked the climax. So after pack up, we used to sit with Akshay sir and Sajid Nadiadwala sir and bounce ideas. And slowly after burning the midnight oil, we managed to crack the finale. And today, I am getting the maximum appreciation for the climax, especially how Akshay’s bums get pierced by the knives! I was worried how it’ll turn out in the film and thankfully it has worked.
As you mentioned, no film of Akshay Kumar before has collected so much in a single day. What has been his reaction?
He is very, very happy. My bond with Akshay is very strong and we have written 7-8 films for him. All my 3 directorial ventures starred Akshay and even my next, Bachchan Pandey, is with him. Maine unko chhoda hi nahi…pakad ke rakha hai! He told me that the performance of the film has been great and that he hoped that the film continues to grow in the days to come. By the way, I also told my ADs that another version of the ‘Bala’ song can be ‘Bala O Bala…ab toh producer banayega aur do maala’!
Talking of the producer, Sajid Nadiadwala, you’ve had a fine association with him as well…
Yes and again, we have a great bond and it goes beyond the Housefull franchise. I have written films for him and now I also have a permanent cabin in their office! They are like family. His wife, Warda, is a producer for the first time and today, I messaged and congratulated her. She is quite thrilled with the response.
There has also been some negativity on social media with regards to Housefull 4. Akshay Kumar even tweeted ‘Thank you for showing us that nothing beats hate more than love’. Your thoughts?
Forget my thoughts, check the replies under Akshay Kumar’s tweet, especially of his fan clubs and you’ll get the answer!