'Box office success means nothing to me'
Dedh Ishqiya producer Vishal Bhardwaj talks about his latest film, and tells us why he will not produce a film that's directed by someone else.
One of the most talented directors in Bollywood, Vishal Bhardwaj is excited about his latest production Dedh Ishqiya.
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, the film has a stellar cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, Arshad Warsi and Huma Qureshi. The film has already got rave reviews.
In this interview with Sonil Dedhia, Bhardwaj explains his roles as director and producer, and seems unfazed by the fact that none of his films has worked at the box office.
It’s been a while since you had a box office success. How important is Dedh Ishqiya’s success for you?
I never look for success. I look for creative satisfaction.
Success comes and goes but creative satisfaction remains.
I was satisfied with the last film I directed, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.
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Image: Naseeruddin Shah and Madhuri Dixit in Dedh Ishqiya
'None of my films have worked at the box office'
Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola did not do well at the box office.
I don’t think about that. None of my films have worked at the box office.
Despite that, people want to work with me. Producers are ready to give me a budget of Rs 30-60 crore to make a film.
This is the reason I say box office success means nothing to me.
You have received critical acclaim…
(Cuts in) Yes, I got mixed reviews for the film and it made me introspect.
So what came of the introspection?
I don’t want to talk about it. I am not here to talk about my introspection but about Dedh Ishqiya.
I have made all my films with 100 per cent conviction. I don’t intend to dwell on the past
Image: Vishal Bhardwaj, Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'Vidya Balan's character had to be eliminated'
Director Abhishek Chaubey wasn’t sure he wanted to make a sequel to Ishqiya. Weren’t you tempted to direct it?
I was more tempted to make Maha Kaminey, a sequel to my earlier film Kaminey.
Ishqiya belongs to Abhishek. Even though we co-wrote the film, the basic story idea and characters came from him.
Had he refused to direct the film, we wouldn’t have made Dedh Ishqiya.
Also, Shemaroo (the co-producer of the film) insisted on capitalising on the brand.
Why is Vidya Balan not in the sequel?
It is like Hrithik Roshan not doing Dhoom 3.
The film is more about the adventures of the two characters played by Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi.
Vidya Balan’s character had to be eliminated and we had to look for a new character.
If we make the third part, chances are that we may not have Madhuri Dixit in it.
Image: Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah in Dedh Ishqiya
'I will produce only those films that I direct'
Do you think there’s pressure on Madhuri, as it is her comeback film?
The pressure is on us.
Given Ishqiya's success, we have to make Dedh Ishqiya a bigger success.
Indeed, it is Madhuri’s comeback film. Her previous film (Aaja Nachle) came a few years ago. It is value addition to have Madhuri in the film. The character was written keeping her in mind.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali produces the kind of films he would never direct, but that is not the case with you.
I don’t produce or direct films that I don’t believe in. I think Sanjay would have loved Rowdy Rathore and that is why he produced the film.
So you won’t make a masala film?
I want to stop producing films because I want to conserve that energy for myself. I am not interested in producing films. Abhishek is like my brother so I did it for him.
I am producing another film after Dedh Ishqiya for Meghna Gulzar, as she is like my sister. But as a profession and business, I don’t want to do it. I will produce only those films that I direct.
Image: Huma Qureshi and Madhuri Dixit in Dedh Ishiqya
'It wasn't difficult to convince Shahid to go bald for Haider'
What’s the status of your next directorial venture, Haider?
We have finished 60 per cent of the shoot. We are starting the next schedule by mid January and will finish by the end of February.
Apparently, Shahid Kapoor is going bald for his character in the film. Was it difficult to convince him?
Yes, he is going bald but it was not difficult to convince him.
The character needed this look. He knew about it.
Image: Vijay Raaz in Dedh Ishqiya