'If Devdas goes wrong, I will quit'
What makes producer Bharat Shah supremely confident
The man who has produced the most expensive film of the year is not worried about its box-office prospects.
Bharat Shah is confident that Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Rs 500 million film Devdas will recover its money in two weeks! In fact, he expects an 'overflow from various centres'.
He adds, "If a good film like Devdas goes wrong, then I will lose confidence in filmmaking, and will quit the industry." He refutes charges that certain Mumbai theatres screening Devdas had current bookings open. "There are certain theatres with no advance booking, and therefore people might have bought tickets in current booking," he justifies.
The Shah Rukh Khan-Madhuri Dixit-Aishwarya Rai starrer released July 12.
Shah, who was in police custody for his links with the underworld, spoke to Bharati Dubey about his latest production, Devdas.
You seem to be at loggerheads with Sanjay Leela Bhansali...
Not at all. He is a creative man and therefore, a little whimsical.
There were reports that some members of the cast chipped in, in the making of the film.
It is my money and only my money. No one else has invested anything.
Although the music rights of the film were sold to Universal for more than Rs 130 million, the music has not really caught on...
Universal did not support the music, as they should have. They did not do anything, because of which we faced a lot of problems. They have always promoted our music well in the past. But not for Devdas.
I am told the music is picking up now that the movie has released. I expected that.
Were you involved with the film right from the beginning?
I was always the producer of the film, but because of the controversy, my name was kept away.
Did you ever think the budget would cross Rs 500 million?
No. I did not think that the film's budget would be so high --- even Sanjay would not have dreamed of that budget. But I always give my directors a free hand. Once I get involved with a project, I do not compromise. Whatever money I have invested on the film shows. Everybody, from Sanjay to Shah Rukh Khan, has worked very hard.
Was Shah Rukh your first choice to play Devdas?
Of course. Shah Rukh was the first choice for Devdas. We did not think of anyone else because no other artiste would have suited the role. I do not think Sanjay spoke to anyone else for that role.
Shah Rukh is not only my all-time favourite, but the number one star in India. He cannot be compared. He is the best.
Why were only 495 prints of Devdas released?
Sanjay took a while working on the shorter version of the film. So we could not come out with 600 prints. We plan to add 250 prints soon.
After Shah Rukh's previous film, KS Adhiyaman's Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam released, you blamed the media and industry for pulling it down...
The film was delayed for six years. Once a film gets delayed, people lose confidence in it. The industry rejects a film before
it is even released, which is not right. Till today, its music is at number one. And we have an overflow from most of the territories.
Only filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt stood by you during your trial.
The film industry is with me even today. But not all have the guts to talk openly. Directly or indirectly, they do not want to get trapped. Everybody knows what is happening. Why would they take the risk?
The diamond industry knows that Bharat Shah has not done anything wrong. Besides, I do not need any help. I have God on my side. I have come to know in the last one-and-half years kaun apna aur kaun paraya hai [who is on my side and who is not]. Ninety nine per cent are paraya; only one per cent is apna.
ALSO READ: The Devdas Special