Weekend collections of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani are out and it is crystal clear that Raj Kumar Santoshi is all set to have the biggest ever money spinner of his two decade long career. Not just that, even Ranbir Kapoor is enjoying the biggest opening ever of his career with the movie continuing its record journey. In the concluding segment of this 2-part interview with Joginder Tuteja, a relieved Raj Kumar Santoshi reacts to the digs taken on him by other filmmakers, delay in completion of his films, failure of Family and Halla Bol and how he is quite sure that Ranbir and Katrina are sure shot superstars just round the corner.
Even though you are sticking by your ethics and passion and are one of the select senior film makers who are still around, doesn’t it hurt that there are digs being taken on the pace at which you complete your films? At times it appears to be harmless fun but sometimes, it is also a little below the belt. Don’t you feel like retaliating?
I am glad you asked this question. Though I won’t wish to retaliate per se but I definitely to want state some bare facts on the records to bring a turnaround in perception of few who feel/believe/speculate/assume that I take time in completing my films. If we go down the memory lane, one of my biggest and most ambitious films till date, The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, took mere 120 days from the first day of the shoot till the release date. This included actual shooting, post production, marketing, promotion and release. Tell me how many big films like this have been completed in such speed. Moreover, my involvement with a project doesn’t just end at the sets of the film. I know of so many out there who steer clear of a film once they are through the principal shooting. However, I am thoroughly involved in the background score, editing, mixing etc.
The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, took mere 120 days from the first day of the shoot till the release date
But isn’t The Legend of Bhagat Singh an isolated example of a film being completed so fast?
I can give you a lot more examples. Khakee was completed in 8 months even though Aishwarya Rai had met with an accident during the shoot. Also, there were other superstars like Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn as the part of the cast. Still, there were no delays. On the other hand, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, in spite of busy youngsters like Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, was completed in 8 months flat. Sometimes there is a gap between making two films which gives people an impression that a movie is taking a lot of time to be completed. However, the actors with whom I have worked over the years know that I shoot fast and finish the films on time. It’s unfortunate that there is such a wrong perception around my films getting delayed.
I am happy that other than great looks, Katrina also has an inherent quality of being a good and honest human being that reflects in her performance
Have you ever looked back on the box office failure of Family – Ties of Blood and Halla Bol?
Whenever I look back, I become surer that poor marketing killed these films. In today’s times something like that is so important for your film to make it’s presence amongst in the audience. People make choices based on what is made available to them. Neither Family nor Halla Bol reached out to audiences. Moreover, in case of Family, Amitabh Bachchan had fallen ill before it’s release and hence there was a lot of uncertainty around the film’s release. Moreover, no one was in the right frame of mind to talk about the film. What is ironical though is that till date I get compliments from people who watch it on satellite or DVDs. These films were far better than the rubbish which is churned out today.
Well, the story telling of your latest release was indeed comical. However, it must have required quite some thinking on your part to rope in someone like Katrina Kaif in a role like this, right? After all before New York, she was being billed as just Ms. Beautiful.
I know her for last 2.5 years and have closely followed her progress as an actor, star and a professional. I had been hearing stories about her sincerity, discipline, punctuality and hard work. I saw it all for myself when she was roped in for the film. She was quite enthusiastic about the subject even though it required her to do something that she has never attempted before. Not many actors can carry off a role like this with élan but she did that. I am glad that my judgement paid off. She was very convinced herself that she could crack it well. I am happy that other than great looks, she also has an inherent quality of being a good and honest human being that reflects in her performance.
Ranbir too has given an altogether different account of himself…
It was such a pleasant experience to be directing this young boy; He too hadn’t done anything like this before. Years back, I had enjoyed so much working with Rishiji in Damini. I still believe that the industry hasn’t given him his due. Now Ranbir has played a role so well which required him to come up with an all around performance where he was required to display a wide variety of emotions. He is a definite star on way to be a superstar.
Ranbir is a definite star on way to be a superstar
There has been a considerable gap between Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani and your last release Halla Bol [Jan 2008]. Will there be an equally large time span before your next film arrives?
That should not be the case (laughs). I was just waiting for the response to Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani. Now I can start putting together my next film in place which is pretty much in the pipeline.