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'I hope I don't disappoint people'

By Jahnavi Patel
January 25, 2017 10:10 IST
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'While writing the script, I had shared it with some Indie filmmakers and they had asked me who I wanted for this part. I had said Shah Rukh Khan and we had all laughed because we had no access to Shah Rukh Khan!'

But director Rahul Dholakia did swing it and cast the superstar in his new film Raees.

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan in Raees

When Rahul Dholakia asked Shah Rukh Khan to star in his new film Raees, the superstar listened to the script and then asked him, 'Why me?'

The director, who has made the brilliantly reviewed film Parzania before, said there was a line in his film which he felt went with SRK's personality.

He didn't have to actually say the line. Shah Rukh guessed it: 'Baniye ka deemag, miyabhai ki daring.'

It was all Shah Rukh, and he couldn't help but say yes to the film.

Rahul Dholakia tells Jahnavi Patel/ Rediff.com more about his conversations with Shah Rukh Khan, and the film.

Your cinema is different from Shah Rukh Khan's. How then did Raees happen?

When we wrote Raees, the script became larger-than-life. It was a good blend of popular and realistic cinema.

(Producers) Farhan (Akhtar) and Ritesh (Sidhwani) read the script and asked me for five names who I would like for this role.

I said, 'Shah Rukh Khan.'

While writing the script, I had shared it with some Indie filmmakers and they had asked me who I wanted for this part. I had said Shah Rukh Khan and we had all laughed because we had no access to Shah Rukh Khan! (laughs)

Shah Rukh was graceful enough to take it up and he has done wonderfully in the film. He has given a brilliant performance.

 
Was it difficult to get him on board?

No. I think once he read the script, he was in tune with the film. So he said yes.

When I reached the interval point in the narration, he said he would do the film. 
 
We haven't seen Shah Rukh in this space. Why did his name come to your mind?

The character is such. When I met Shah Rukh, he asked me the same question.

I told him that there's a line in the film which I felt was his personality.

He asked me, 'Which one? Baniye ka deemag, miyabhai ki daring?'

I said, 'Yes.'

The film needed some edginess, a larger-than-life persona; it had to be a bit romantic but intense.

Shah Rukh has played these kinds of roles in different films, it's not that he hasn't played it. His character is layered, it has a lot of shades. He has been able to capture each one of them very well.

IMAGE: Rahul (in green) with his direction team. Photograph: Rahul Dholakia/Twitter

The teaser of Raees was released a year and a half ago. People talked about it then and are still doing so.

That scares me. Ek dedh saal se teaser ki itni bhaari impact hai, fir trailer ki impact hai, abhi expectations toh bohot high hai. (The teaser had a lot of impact, and then the trailer did. So people will have high expectations.)

I hope I don't disappoint people.
 
Is there pressure?

Now the film is done, the pressure is on the producer. (smiles)
 
People have put in so much effort, passion and years -- almost three -- I should not disappoint them.

 
Raees has been in making for a long time. It has been re-shot, toned down.

A little bit, yes. We had to tone it down along the way. Things change, situations change.

We look at the film, introspect, and feel it's going a little off the zone. So we modified it along the way. 
 
The film's leading lady Mahira Khan recently said in an interview that she would have loved to be in Mumbai for the promotions but she could not because of the circumstances. Do you think it would have been different if she had been here?

You always feel good if your actors are with you.

It does help the promotions but the situation is such that that you have to balance it.

IMAGE: Mahira Khan in Raees

You have retained her bits in the film.

Yes. We had already made the film and she is there for a particular time in it. I can't change that because they are such intense, dramatic scenes with Shah Rukh.

If I remove that, my story goes for a toss.

Was Mahira the first choice?

No, I had no choice. (laughs)

I needed somebody who was like a 30-year-old girl, a good actress, someone who wasn't very big in India, someone who had that innocence and the Muslim look, someone who had dates because this was a two-schedule film, someone who would look good with Shah Rukh and who could stand on her feet when Shah Rukh was there.

Considering all that, there were very few options left.

Then we auditioned her and I liked her.

She had come for the promotions of (television serialHumsafar. She was good in the audition and she's good in the film too.

When a filmmaker explores the commercial genre, they don't go back to the niche films.

I don't know what I want to do next. 

I like to tell good stories. We have been writing various stories but it doesn't have to be superstar-driven. Even Raees is character-driven.

If we start writing with superstars in mind, it will become difficult.

IMAGE: Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Raees

Was Farhan Akhtar supposed to do Nawazuddin Siddique's role?

Initially, Nawaz was to do Nawaz's role, then Farhan came.

But the dates didn't work out, so Nawaz came back.

Nawaz is superb in the film, he brings that edge.

Have any of the characters put on a Gujarat accent?

I hate stereotyping Gujaratis; I don't want all that.

All of them have said lines in Gujarati but to an extend.

 

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan and Mahira Khan in Raees

The dialogues of Raees have caught up.

The dialogues are quite interesting, whether it is 'Baniye ka dimaag, miyabhai ki daring' or 'Battery nahi bolneka' or 'Gujarati hawa mein vyapaar hai' or the 'Ammi jaan kehti thi'... there are many more in the film.

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Jahnavi Patel / Rediff.com in Mumbai