Sajid Khan: I am anxious about Humshakals
'I started writing Humshakals in the week of Himmatwala’s failure. I feel I wrote it vehemently because I wanted to make myself laugh.'
Sajid Khan discusses his new film.
Director Sajid Khan says he is happy that his last directorial venture Himmatwala failed at the box office, as that brought him "back to the ground.”
The 42-year-old director blames himself and his arrogant behaviour for Himmatwala’s failure and says he has learnt his lesson. He promises to direct only comedy films in future, and so he returns to his comfort zone with Humshakals.
The new film will see its protagonists -- Saif Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Ram Kapoor -- in triple roles, and will release on June 20.
Sajid tells Sonil Dedhia why he is not confident about Humshakals’s success and why he thinks he is a role model for a husband.
Your last film, Himmatwala, bombed at the box office. What do you think went wrong?
I think I went wrong with Himmatwala. I made the film because it was my favourite childhood film and I still stand by it.
I think that zone or that genre of cinema is over. My name became the biggest enemy for the film because people did not expect an action-comedy set in the 1980s from me.
In fact, a lot of people thought that Himmatwala was a spoof.
The failure of Himmatwala made me realise that I should not do something that I am not good at.
During the promotions of Himmatwala, you seemed pretty confident about the film.
Himmatwala was destined to fail.
When promoting Himmatwala I spoke very arrogantly. It has taught me to go easy when speaking. I don't think much before saying anything.
When I was doing television shows, I was known to be a funny guy. I often crossed the line when it came to cracking jokes on people from the industry and I wasn’t bothered about it. I was happy doing it because I was paid for it.
So somewhere with Himmatwala, it all came back. My arrogance really went against me.
People from the media, who before Himmatwala rooted for me, turned against me.
I don’t blame them because I gave them all the reasons to be angry. I take the entire blame for Himmatwala’s failure.
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Image: Sajid Khan
'I am glad Himmatwala didn't work because now I am back on track'
Ajay Devgn in an interview said that he knew that Himmatwala would fail even when he was shooting for the film.
That’s not true because a day before the release of the film, we were celebrating in his house.
If an actor doesn’t believe in the film, he won't promote the film.
Ajay and I promoted the film for 22 days.
What have you learnt from the failure of Himmatwala?
I am a changed man now. I was very arrogant then and I said things to get attention and make a statement.
People couldn't understand whether this film was a comedy or not.
It was supposed to be an action film but it turned out to be a tragedy (laughs).
Before Himmatwala, I had given three back-to-back hits (Heyy Babyy, Housefull and Housefull-2). I started demanding that people respect me because I was successful.
I was screaming for attention.
I am glad Himmatwala didn't work because now I am back on track.
Image: Sajid Khan and Ajay Devgn on the sets of Himmatwala
'Humshakals is my coolest film so far'
You have grown up watching diverse cinema but you still choose to make films that are comedy masala potboilers.
I became a filmmaker by chance. I am very fortunate that I have directed my fifth film.
I always wanted to make one film. Success led me to make more films.
The money, the power, the respect that I got after making Heyy Babyy led to me to direct more films.
People know Sajid Khan’s films as comic capers that make them laugh.
People expect a comedy film from me and now I will give them only what they want.
That means that you are scared to experiment.
No, it’s not about experimenting. I made my first film with a baby. If I was scared to experiment, I wouldn’t have done that.
The only formula is that a good film works and a bad film doesn’t.
I know Himmatwala was bad. I made it because of sheer arrogance.
The failure of the film brought me my personal success. I got my funny-bone back and decided to direct Humshakals.
Did you take any conscious decisions while writing or making Humshakals?
I started writing Humshakals in the week of Himmatwala’s failure.
I feel I wrote it vehemently because I wanted to make myself laugh.
The original idea was three people in double roles. After a month, I made it two people in triple roles and one person in a double role.
Then, after 45 days of living with the new screenplay, I said let’s just go all out and make the film with three people in triple roles.
The freshness of Humshakals is its USP. The film is not as ‘massy’ as people think it is. It’s my coolest film.
I can promise and guarantee that people will have a silly smile on their faces throughout the film.
It is very difficult to make a comedy which caters to all age groups, but I think I have been able to pull it off with Humshakals.
Image: Sajid Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Riteish Deshmukh on the sets of Humshakals.
'Saif has amazed me with his act in Humshakals'
Humshakals, as you said, is a genre of film that you like to direct. Are you confident about its success?
No, I am not confident. I am anxious. I am not even concerned about how much money it will make at the box office.
I think when the going is good everyone will accept whatever you do. In my case, people’s tolerance level was increasing.
When Housefull and Housefull-2 became hits, people wanted another hit. And when Himmatwala didn’t work, all the frustration came out.
Saif Ali Khan’s brand of comedy is completely different from yours. Was it easy to convince him to do Humshakals?
At first, I wasn't sure if Saif would agree to let his hair down and go so much beyond his usual performances for Humshakals. But he has not just surprised me, he has actually amazed me with his act.
It was difficult for him and Riteish to switch from one persona to the other in the span of a single day.
Directing him made me laugh out loud so many times. In the process of making this film, Saif and I discovered that we are similar in a lot of ways.
Image: Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Sajid Khan on the sets of Humshakals
'Bipasha hasn't promoted many films in the past too'
You said that if an actor doesn’t believe in a film he would not promote it. Bipasha is missing from the promotions of Humshakals.
I will be very honest with you. Bipasha has not promoted many films of hers in the past.
She promoted her last film Aatma because the film was about her.
Are you saying she doesn’t promote movies where there is an ensemble cast?
There are many movies that she hasn’t promoted, like Players and All The Best.
She was perfectly fine shooting for the film. She is a part of four out of the five songs in the film and she has done complete justice to her role.
Image: Bipasha Basu, Tamannah, Esha Gupta and Sajid Khan
'I am the best role model for a husband'
You fell out with your best friend Sajid Nadiadwala. Have you decided to sort things out?
Sajid Nadiadwala has been like an elder brother to me.
He has been my best friend for 17 years and of course best friends fight and also get back.
We will get back. We will look back at the last two years and laugh it off.
Right now he is busy in his own space and I am busy with my film and that is the reason I didn’t do Judwaa 2 and Housefull 3.
I felt gaining a producer in Sajid Nadiadwala was making me lose my best friend and he too felt the same thing.
There is not a single day when we don’t think of each other. Perhaps as one of Bollywood’s big directors I can say that I wouldn’t have been here had it not been for him.
Sajid Nadiadwala made me a director and I can never forget that.
I was offered tonnes of money from outside after Hey Babyy’s success but I gave that up to do another film with Sajid.
I don’t know if we will work together but definitely we will be friends for life.
You are 42, is there any pressure to settle down?
No, there is no pressure.
I live an easy life. I don’t drink, womanise or gamble or go to nightclubs to party every night. I am the best role model for a husband (laughs).
I have settled down so many times in the past with women who were pretty and intelligent, but things didn’t work out.
I will settle down but I need to find a like-minded person.
Image: Ram Kapoor with Riteish Deshmukh and Sajid Khan