It’s been a tough time for producer Vashu Bhagnani. All his recent films have been turnips at the box-office. All his close friends from the film industry turned their backs on the producer. His son’s launch film Kal Kissne Dekha turned out to be a disaster.
Vashu can barely contain his emotions. “My wife has been praying and fasting for her husband and her son’s film to succeed. God heard the prayers. F.A.L.T.U is going to be a bigger success than all other recent films. I think the World Cup is lucky for me. I released Biwi No. 1 during the World Cup in 1999. It clicked. Now F.A.L.T.U has worked in the week of the World Cup semi-finals and finals. People said I was crazy.”
F.A.LT.U with no star value and made at an estimated budget of Rs. 20 crore rupees has taken a stupendous opening, leaving the week’s other release Game made at an estimated budget of Rs. 65 crores, an out-and-out loser at the box-office. There is a stunned disbelief in the industry.
Says a prominent actor-producer, “This is the kind of success story that makes us wonder why we’re spending fortunes on signing stars. If Vashu Bhagnani can make a success with his son and Yash Raj with Ranveer Kapoor, we don’t need to pay the so-called A-listers 15 and 20 crores. With the money we pay stars, we can make Band Baaja Baaraat and F.A.L.T.U.”
Vashu was sniggered at for signing his son as the leading man. They said he was signing his death warrant. Protests Vashu, “But I’ve always worked with new talent. I’ve introduced so many newcomers off and behind the camera. Yash Raj has only started doing it now. Though I’ve got everything I have today from this industry, the industry people can be very cruel when you’re down and out. People said I was finished. They said my son could never be a star. We started F.A.L.T.U. when we were at our lowest.”
His film is the surprise success of the season. On Saturday as Jackky Bhagnani proceeded to watch the India-Pakistan match at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday he was pinching himself in disbelief.
Says Jackky, “I am going to be cheering even louder for the Indian team now. I feel a kind of elation from inside myself that I can’t describe. More than me, I feel happy for my father. People had started saying he should give up film production and focus on being a builder. It hurt… it hurt a lot. I’ve never been a privileged producer’s son. I was a fat kid and laughed at. Then when I worked on myself I was the flop son of the producer. Everyone had written me off. Now I’m in a daze. Suddenly I am being taken seriously. It feelsâ€¦good. People aren’t saying I’m just a good dancer. They think I’m a good actor too.”
The first thing that Jackky will do is buy himself a car. “I’ve been moving around in a rickety automobile for years. My father has been urging me to get a new car. But I was adamant I’d buy it only when I can afford to pay for it myself. Going by the way things are going for F.A.L.T.U, I think I can afford a car after Monday.”
And yes, the Bhagnanis are planning a big bash. Not to gloat. Not to show the industry that a on-the-skids producer can make a hit with his down-and-out son in lead. “We just want everyone in the industry to share in our happiness. We’ve waited very long for our fortunes to turn around,” says Jackky emotionally.