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'My film is not like Chandni Chowk'

June 24, 2009 18:26 IST

'My film is not like Chandni Chowk or Singh is Kinng'

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Sabbir Khan's claim to fame is his upcoming directorial venture Kambakkht Ishq, starring Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor.

But Khan is not new to the film industry. His father was lyricist Noor Devasi, who penned the song Aao huzoor tumko sitaron mein le chaloon in the film Kismat. 

Sabbir, who assisted Vikram Bhatt on his blockbuster film Ghulam and David Dhawan on Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, hopes some of that magic will rub off on his debut film. He tells Patcy N what to expect.

What made you take Kambakkht Ishq to Hollywood?

We wanted to make an entertaining film. When I started writing the film, we thought of setting it in a film industry. That's why we had Akshay playing a stunt artist. Then we thought of taking it to the next level as we wanted to have something in the film that would force the audience to buy a ticket. So we thought of shooting it in Hollywood. But when we were planning it, we were laughing at ourselves for dreaming so big. But then I went and lived there for a year. We did a year of pre-production work before the film went on the floors.


Image: Amrita Arora, Kareena Kapoor, Denise Richards in Kambakkht Ishq. Inset Sabbir Khan

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'Everybody should go in for a large canvas if they have the resources'

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What did you do in the year that you spent in the US?

Apart from preparing for the film, I met dozens of agents to get access to their actors. That's very difficult, as we have to go through many agents before you meet the star's real agent.

Plus, I had go through the sets [at Universal Studios], which had history attached to it. It is not easy to shoot at the Kodak theatre [where the Oscar ceremony is held]. There are so many channels to go through that one year was spent in organising all this. I had to also change the script according to the locations we were shooting in.

Were you nervous directing your first film on such a large canvas?

I think everybody should go in for a large canvas if they have the resources. This is my debut film but I'm wasn't nervous. I have been the part of the industry far too long -- my father was a lyricist. I was in and out of studios when I was in school. I have seen the biggest of stars. So for me, it was a pleasure making the film -- big or small does not matter.


Image: A scene from Kambakkht Ishq

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'Akshay's hits or flops won't affect my film'

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Did you approach producer Sajid Nadiadwala or did he ask you?

I was working in his company. I assisted David Dhawan in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, which had also starred Akshay.

Akshay had been very supporting and encouraging and had told me that whenever I planned to direct film, I should go to him first. Sajid also wanted me to do a film for his company. But I was not taking it seriously.

When he was leaving for New York to shoot for Jaan-E-Maan, he called me and told me to take his words seriously and write a script and direct a film for his company. After that, I started writing the script and wrote it keeping Akshay in mind.

When you were planning this film, Akshay was giving back-to-back hits. But now, he's had a string of flops to his credit.

I wrote this film for Akshay, not because he was a big star. Besides, my film is not like Chandni Chowk or Singh is Kinng. It's not a comedy. So his hits or flops won't affect my film.


Image: A scene from Kambakkht Ishq

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'I was overwhelmed by Stallone'

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Why didn't you take your Mujhse Shaadi Karogi heroine Priyanka Chopra?

Because the actress in my film had to play a model, and Priyanka had already done that in Fashion. So there would have been no novelty for her.

Plus, Sajid and I loved Jab We Met and were bowled over by Kareena's performance. That was when we decided only she could do the film. Kareena's role is strong and at par with Akshay's. So when we saw her strong performance in Jab We Met, we knew she was the one we needed. She has done a fantastic job.

Were you nervous directing Sylvester Stallone?

No. I had spent a year in the US doing in pre-production work, so I had met him many times and read out the script to him. So the nervousness was gone. But I was overwhelmed by him.

On the first day of the shoot, I had a crew of 200 people and 5,000 extras. We were shooting at the Kodak theatre, and there was a lot of commotion there. But the minute Stallone walked in, there was pin-drop silence. I felt a slight twang of apprehension and nervousness but I knew I was the captain of the ship and that it should not come from me. So I snapped out of it immediately.

How did you convince Stallone to say Kambakkht Ishq in Hindi?

It was part of the script and he agreed very sportingly.


Image: A scene from Kambakkht Ishq

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'Arnold was so humble'

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There were rumours that Arnold Schwarzenegger was to be a part of the film?

Arnold supported the film because he is the governor of California and we shot the film there. He had a very busy schedule and so could not be a part of the film in terms of acting. But the first meeting that I had after reaching the US was with the governor. I got a letter from him inviting us to shoot in California. That's why we have thanked him in the opening credits.

How did the meeting with him go?

I was nervous. But when I met him, I realised he was so humble. He got up to offer me water and a chair. I feel the popularity that these people enjoy is because they are simple and humble. He has no airs or star baggage.

Are you in touch with the Hollywood actors?

Yes. We have become friends and are connected by phone and e-mails. Stallone is coming for the film's premiere.


Image: A scene from Kambakkht Ishq

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'Akshay's character is chauvinist, rude and arrogant'

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Some of the dialogues in the film -- especially the one about how women's importance lies in bed -- are raising a few eyebrows.

Yes. But the dialogues are coming from a chauvinistic, rude, arrogant character. That's the way he is supposed to speak so that I can show the change in his character later. It's not Akshay Kumar who's saying that. I've written these lines and directing him that way.


Image: A scene from Kambakkht Ishq

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'We have used the best stunt directors'

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Akshay plays a Hollywood stuntman. So your stunts had to match international standards.

Exactly. We were very careful with this, so a lot of effort has been put into having new stunts, which will be at par with Hollywood. But it's not an action film. It's not about a stuntman or his stunts. That's just the backdrop of the film.

We have used the best stunt directors -- they have done the stunts for Mission Impossible and Bad Boys.

What next?

Nothing yet. I have to remove this film from my system first, so I am waiting for its release. Of course I have to make another film for Sajid. It will start early next year.


Image: A scene from Kambakkht Ishq

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