The celebrity chat show Koffee With Karan that is hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar has literally been the talk of the town since it start with the fifth season. After featuring some of the biggest names in the industry on the Koffee couch, the latest episode of the show which is a directors’ special, features none other than filmmakers Kabir Khan, Zoya Akhtar and Imtiaz Ali. The episode started off on a rather serious note with each of the directors including Karan Johar talking about their experience till date when making film. But it wasn’t just that. So here are some of the top moments of the episode that shouldn’t be missed.
“Box office figures have become the most important thing today for any director”, says Kabir Khan who has been one of the most successful directors in the recent past. Continuing his reasoning for the statement the Barangi Bhaijaan director added, “After achieving box office success, only then do directors have the liberty to try and experiment with different content. Till the time you do not have the box office figures to prove you are successful, this is tough.”
Achieving box office success is easily done with a commercially viable film, and that is exactly where the conversation headed. “Adjusting my sensibilities to fit a commercially viable structure is something that is always there. I remember my first film with Salman Khan, I came from a different thought and Salman came from a wholly different one, I had to adjust and compromise on that film. But because of that adjustment I could feel and see things going out of my hands”, says Kabir Khan. If that wasn’t enough, Khan added, “Then on my second film I thought instead of clashing, why don’t we just blend both the thought processes and see what emerges, and that is exactly what Bajrangi Bhaijaan is.”
After covering box office success and the need to adjust and adapt, the conversation then shifted to rejection. “Zoya is the queen of rejection”, stated host Karan Johar, and went on to talk about Zoya's initial days when she was turned down by actors who read her script. Reacting to the question on how she dealt with the rejections, Zoya added, “After the actors walked out of my first two films, I felt really very bad, but I survived because I was cocky. Now I am thick skinned and it doesn’t affect me.” Going into flashback mode, Zoya recalled how she was like in the initial days saying, “I was really cocky when I started. I had it in my head that if you don’t want to be in it there will be someone else. I am not here for the actors; I am here to make movies. If you are in it, good, if not, I can manage”.
“Actors don’t read scripts. In fact there are a lot of them who don’t read it but want a ‘Narration’ instead”, claimed host and filmmaker Karan Johar. “The problem here is that if you give these actors a simple narration that is basically a reading of the script you can see them falling asleep. So your so called narration has to be this extravagant over the top recitation”, elaborated Karan.
With scripts, box office numbers, adjustment and rejection done, the director trio moved next to another problem that Kabir Khan has been plagued with. “The toughest thing for me is not to find an actor, instead it is to find a producer”, commented Kabir. “I remember my early days, I had my scripts with me and I did go to a lot of production houses and each of them read it and would say ‘Nice script’ but none of them would put their money where their mouth is”, explained Kabir.
Revealing another thing Kabir Khan learnt while in search for producers was the ‘Pre Friday’ and ‘Post Friday’ films. When prodded further on what exactly they meant Kabir elaborated, “I met a producer once who after reading my script asked if my film was pre Friday that basically means that a film can be sold to a third party before Friday. Similarly a post Friday film is one that has to rely on its merit and the audience word of mouth to sustain itself and do business.”
Next up on the list was the issue most directors have with critics. A rather vocal Zoya who seems to hold very few film critics in a good light stated that there has to be a system of rating a critic as well. “Most critics that happen to be there are simply low brow and pathetic. There is almost like an inside competition among critics to be the meanest or funniest of them all. I think that we need a system to rate these critics who rate our films.” Continuing her venting session Zoya added, “Some critics try too hard and some just can’t pick up stuff and literally do not know how to read between the lines.” Picking up on Zoya’s hate session for the critics, Karan Johar too decided to talk about the aspect of Live Tweet Reviews that he finds absolutely appalling. “Live tweeting about a film is not reviewing a film, it is borderline piracy since it gives out a lot of aspects of a film even before the full review is out”, added the filmmaker.
Though the conversation between the four filmmakers was definitely informative, it was the rapid fire round that held the real fire. From Zoya being at a loss when it came to interpreting Urdu words despite her father being Javed Akhtar, to her, Kabir and Imtiaz’s total lack of or rather shortage of Bollywood knowledge, the rapid fire or crossfire round was certainly a watch. In fact one of the questions posed by host Karan Johar was to name three films wherein Shah Rukh Khan’s character was name Rahul, a question that most would have answered without a second thought, sent the three directors into deep confusion. Interestingly, though Zoya Akhtar managed to recollect two film names while Kabir added the third.
However, though Imtiaz Ali in his own words has watched just three films viz. Dear Zindagi, Udta unjab and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, did manage to hold his own when it came to the quiz on music.
All in all the directors’ special episode certainly made for an informative yet fun watch while giving a glimpse into the life of a filmmaker.