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Shah Rukh certainly likes to put his directors into some ‘testing times’. In case of Always Kabhi Kabhi first time director Roshan Abbas presented the story to him as a rom-com graphic novel before it could be approved for conversion into a feature film. Now this one could well be a first in Bollywood because though it is a common practice to have an idea being presented as a show-reel or a pictorial illustration, there has never been a situation when an entire graphic novel is put together before being pitched for production.
“Shah Rukh wants his films to be different but then also commercially viable. That’s something he has learnt since the days of his earlier productions like Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, Asoka and Paheli, none of which worked at the box office. He doesn’t go ahead and give his nod of approval for a film just on the basis of a well sounding idea. He wants something much more than that; like a prototype which gives him an exact sense of what the final film would look like”, informs a trade source who has closely followed Shah Rukh’s stint as a producer.
Another thing that Shah Rukh is quite clear about is that even though he may be having quite a few friends in the industry who are most willing to work with him, he chooses only those who manage to impress him with their homework, are well prepared and quite clear about what they want.
“He has worked with the likes of old friends like Farah Khan (Main Hoon Naa, Om Shanti Om) and Aziz Mirza (Chalte Chalte) but that never meant that he wasn’t open to other options”, continues the trade source, “It’s an idea that matters and hence when Anubhav Sinha approached him for Ra. One and Roshan Abbas presented to him the synopsis of Always Kabhi Kabhi, he gave them a go ahead to flesh these out further.”
Many were surprised though because Anubhav came soon after Cash while Roshan hasn’t made a film before. Also, SRK and Abbas have never been known as his thick friends unlike Farah and Aziz who were a part of his inner circle. So while Anubhav went on to spend more than a couple of years just on getting his writing and other pre-production activities right for Ra. One, Roshan too got busy with getting the visual representation of Always Kabhi Kabhi in place so that he could convince Shah Rukh to make the film.
“Yes, it was a challenge for me to see the idea to Shah Rukh and for that I did present a graphic novel of Always Kabhi Kabhi which visually described the spirit of the film”, confirms Roshan, “I sketched out a large part of the film to show what it would eventually look like. Since I had the screenplay pretty much ready, I went to him with the right scenes instead of selling something which was in thin air. There was a definite plan in place and once Shah Rukh liked what I had to say, I explained how this novel would further translate into a full blown film. Of course he liked what he saw and bringing the floor from that point on wasn’t tough.”