'Was Salman Khan the only reason for the success of a film?'
Film-maker Rajkumar Santoshi has gifted cinema fans with some fine films, some of which have gained cult status today.
From juggling quirky comedies like Andaz Apna Apna and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani to serious subjects in Ghayal, Damini and Lajja, the director has proven his versatility.
Santoshi returns to the movies with Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh.
"I have always been clear that when you want to make a film, you should first work hard on your content. After you have selected your subject, you can think about who would be the perfect fit for the role. Nowadays, it's all about the actors. 'Oh, Varun Dhawan has been giving hits lately, so let's make a film with him as the hero'," Santoshi tells Rediff.com Contributor Mohnish Singh in the first part of a long conversation.
How was Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh conceptualised?
I was inspired by the play by noted writer Asghar Wajahat.
The idea struck his mind because he was the one who wrote the play, and I thought we could make an interesting movie. You must interview him.
I request that the media interview the people who work day and night behind the scenes to make sure their story reaches the audience.
They are the actual creators, but we always value the stars.
We interview Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, who give us blockbusters.
Was Salman Khan the only reason for the success of a film?
There is a team that has made some interesting films, and that's the reason the film has had a good run at the box office.
Over the past few years, the audience has made it clear that they will love only well-written, well-made films, irrespective of whether they are driven by stars or newcomers. How do you look at this shift?
It has always been my strongest belief that content will always be the king.
What kind of change have you been observing in our content?
When we talk about trends, the only thing that has happened is that the lines between Hindi cinema and South cinema have blurred.
People are open to good content. For them, knowing who is the hero or heroine is has become secondary.
Kantara is a film where people were ignorant about the hero. Even today, they may not remember the hero.
They loved the content, and people showered their love on it.
In the same way, Baahubali was a great hit. Not many knew Prabhas.
This means that a star or a hero does not make or break a film. The collaborative efforts count.
People didn't even know who S S Rajamouli was.
But the final product screams that it's good, entertaining, engaging cinema.
Avatar: The Way of Water is yet another film where people have no clue about who the hero or heroine is. People are not even able to recognise the actors because their faces are animated. But again, they proved content wins.
There has been a sabbatical in my career for eight-nine years, but I have observed that there is a certain kind of dictatorship from the corporate sectors where they are choosing to make films with a select group.
I have always been clear about the fact that when you want to make a film, you should first work hard on your content.
After you have selected your subject, you can think about who would be the perfect fit for the role.
Nowadays, it's all about the actors.
'Oh, Varun Dhawan has been giving hits lately, so let's make a film with him as the hero.'
If he or she is a genuine film-maker, they would never do that.
Please go on.
Ghayal was a super hit. I could have made sequels like Ghayal 2, Ghayal 3, Ghayal Chodega Nahi etc.
I could have minted money. But I fell in love with the story of Damini. I felt it was really relevant in those times.
I thought that if I wanted to stick around for a longer time, I would have to support the masses.
Many people suggested that I should show the rape of Meenakshi Seshadri's sister and that will lead to an emotional connect. I said that would not solve the purpose of my film.
Anybody will fight for their mother and sister. She fights for her maid, and she fights her husband, her in-laws, and everyone just for her.
This is the kind of example we should set.
When I made Damini, I got acquainted with Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. They said they wanted to work with me, and I said, 'Of course.' I said we would make something entertaining.
Frankly speaking, I felt that Damini would tank at the box office, but it was a sleeper hit.
I would have gotten carried away after its success and made several films on a similar theme, but I have never done that.
I respect moviegoers a lot, and that's the reason I want to give them something unique with my new film.
Do you like the trend of sequels?
No. People, who like it, are free to do that. It's easy money.
When you take it to OTT, they will be fine with it.
Even if you are selling garbage, they are ready to take it.
There are some films that deserve a sequel, like The Godfather.
Here, when a sequel is made, it is entirely different.
Only the name remains the same, the story is entirely different.
They just want to mint money off the name.
Like if you see Rocky and Rocky 2, the character is the same and the story evolves. He was 40 and now, he is in his 60s, and his son has grown up.
That is how a sequel is supposed to be made.
Whatever people are making nowadays is fraud.