After the release of Kaabil, director Sanjay Gupta is happy, relieved and has moved on to his next already. While he has engaged himself in the writing process, he looks back at the Hrithik Roshan starrer quite fondly. Reason? While it was a challenge no less for him to helm a risky project like this that also required him to change his entire grammar of storytelling, there was also quite some turmoil that he saw his producer Rakesh Roshan when it came to the film’s release. While things have closed on a positive note for all involved, Sanjay is happy that with all around positive reviews coming his way, it is a new beginning.
You are clearly happy and relieved, right?
Any filmmaker would be! We opened well and then our film grew from strength from strength basis sheer content. Of course during the entire filming process you can’t be sure how it would open and how the word of mouth would be. The whole point is to be absolutely truthful to the subject matter. Yes, if you put the same question to Rakeshji then he would have different answer. He has gone through a tough time as a producer and that load was his own. He went through a lot for the film’s release and still he stood his ground with grace, dignity and honour.
When the film was ready, you must have had some thoughts in your mind though.
See, since this is a film with a superstar, I knew from day one that picture choti toh nahi khulegi. As a matter of fact if you see last year’s hits, be it Airlift, Pink or Neerja, all of these basically grew after a decent opening. Barring films like Sultan and Dangal that roared from the first day, all other films worked due to great word of mouth. Audience today have become very smart, it is a wait and watch approach that they adopt. They don’t jump for a film just like that. A bad film doesn’t work anymore. This is a way forward for the industry. Only good content is going to work that would bring in word of mouth.
Guess this is leading to the whole change in approach towards filmmaking.
And that is thankfully happening fast. I have already done that now with Kaabil which is a blend of two schools – Rakeshji and mine. The point for me too is to be going forward. The writing is clear on the wall. Let’s look at what work and what didn’t, sab aapke saamne hai. What is not working is a formula Hindi film. You need to be a Salman Khan to have such formula work.
So a new narrative is on the cards for your next too?
After so many years, I have now come out of my comfort zone. I am reinventing myself, I am relooking at the work I have done in the past, I am reassessing what I have to do tomorrow. I am working for relevance. I have to forget that I have been relevant for two and a half decades. I have to be relevant for next decade when my kid grows up. I don’t want them to say that my dad ‘was’ so and so. They should be able to say my dad ‘is’ doing this or that. I have to be working.
Guess Rakesh Roshan is your inspiration here.
Yes, I have found a new role model in Rakeshji. At 67, he is more active than me. He is working, he is respected, he is looked up to. I often fool around with him that I have 17 years left to be what he is doing currently. I am learning from him to be a step ahead. Today people are breaking the barrier and in that sense Kaabil – regardless of whatever perception may be around it – is an attempt in that direction.
You have managed a good earner though in Kaabil which is now also your biggest grosser ever.
I don’t look at it this way. I tell this to my juniors also that while money is important, do not chase it. You do good work and money would reach you as by product. If a film is good then 100 crore karegi, zyaada achchi hogi toh 200 crore bhi karegi. Of course when the stamp of 100 crore comes in then you know that people are appreciating what you have made. It has all the more meaning when something like that happens for a sensible film. Otherwise there are some movies in the Rs. 100 Crore Club that are senseless. A few amongst these are damn good too but then I don’t know how to make them.
So what are you making next?
I am in the writing process and considering two subjects. That said, I am also spending a lot of time with my family currently. During the making of Kaabil, I gained a lot of weight. So for the next 2-3 months, I have to work towards losing it all. It is time for ‘Mission Me’.