December 8, 2001


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It's the most talked about film of the year.

It deserves all the attention it gets; for Hindi cinema has very rarely seen such a smashing display of grandeur. Six superstars, great music and an interesting novel premise -- Karan Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham has all the trappings of becoming the biggest blockbuster we've seen to date.

If it did, author Niranjan Iyengar could say that he had the honour of chronicling the film, for all time.

A still from K3G From the time the director breathed life into K3G to when the first print rolled out, Iyengar has transformed celluloid to page.

The Making of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham releases December 9, 2001.

Vivek Fernandes catches up with the author for a tete-a-tete.

What prompted you to write the book?

Karan was a close friend of mine; we've known each other even before he did KKHH. The idea struck me when Karan began to work out details of the casting. He had told me that he was planning to take Amitabh, Jaya, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik, Kareena and Kajol.

Being a film buff, the idea of writing about the six stars working together on the same set, under the same director, seemed very exciting. In my opinion, India may never see another film that can boast of such a fantastic cast.

Over dinner one evening, I told Karan to get someone to write about the film, as they did abroad for the big Hollywood flicks. I even suggested that he get someone like Khalid Mohammed to write about the making of the film.

A still from K3G He liked the idea but was keen that I take up the project. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, but was willing to give it a shot.

Indian cinema has not been chronicled as well as it should have been. Twenty years down the line there would be no information, whether factual or otherwise, on films today, their stars and their interactions, save for film glossies, which have a short shelf life.
Books on films are essential. And I'm happy that we are starting this healthy trend. Students of cinema in the years to come will have something to fall on, to use as reference.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai redefined the mechanics of filmmaking. And K3G has also been a landmark film in its own sense, with the star cast, the mounting and the mammoth budget. The success of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham will only enhance its grandeur. Undoubtedly, it is the biggest film the industry has made till date.

What kind of research did the project involve?

It is a common belief that just because a film is a periodical, a mythological or a sci-fi thriller a lot of research goes into it.

I thought the same way too until I wrote this book. But after putting my life on hold, travelling to London and Egypt and observing the entire shoot, I know that my earlier notion was a fallacy. Making a mainstream commercial film, blending varied popular tastes together and catering to every segment of your audience, is in itself a great talent.

A still from K3G The K3G story is a simple one. But, the book is not about K3G -- The story; it is about how such a simple story was magnified with all the grandeur and the star cast to produce the final product. I did not have the advantage of history, the advantage of research but I think I have more than made up for it in terms of cinematic moments, which I have tried to capture and relive.

The book is divided into six parts each representing the independent process of filmmaking: pre-production and scripting; the look of the film; the music; the shooting of scenes; the shooting of songs and post-production. It covers the entire journey from when Karan put pen to paper to the first copy of the film, 200 pages with over 200 pictures.

As a writer, which section of the book did you find most interesting?

As a film buff, I thought that I would enjoy writing about the planning of the film but as it turned out the shooting of the songs were the most interesting.

But the entire shooting process was fun. There were a lot of off screen moments which I had anticipated. Amitji and Jayaji were working together after 18 years so I knew it would be interesting to see them on the first day on the sets.

A still from K3G Kareena has always wanted to be like Kajol, so their chemistry was interesting to observe.

Hrithik and SRK have been touted as rivals everywhere, Kajol and Shah Rukh were coming together for the first time after KKHH. There were a million things to record.

Film literature, especially in India, has a very niche audience and hence a very small market. How have you tried to overcome that barrier?

We are conscious of that problem and have tried to overcome psychological barriers. The book is very pictorial and has a lot of elements that are more anecdotal than academic.

Also the section where the stars talk about their personal experiences while drawing parallels to the other films they've worked in are very enjoyable. I am sure that if more books like this were published they'd be good alternatives to the magazines.

A still from K3G Is the book a marketing gimmick? How different is it from The Making Of Asoka?

If the book was a marketing gimmick, it would have been released a month earlier.

The only similarity between The Making Of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and The Making Of Asoka is that they are both coffee table books on films made this year.

The past 12 months that I have spent with the film have opened my eyes to commercial cinema. I'm much less judgmental about its filmmakers and much less opinionated about the films. As a journalist you're taught to undermine anything that finds its average with the masses. The film has been a big revelation to me, personally.

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