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'Only flops frighten me'

By Mohnish Singh
February 21, 2019 11:32 IST

'If somebody says a certain superstar's film is not good, I would not go to watch it.'
'But if the word-of-mouth is good, I don't miss a film.'
'When Badhaai Ho released, we immediately ran to theatres to watch it.'

IMAGE: Indra Kumar shares a light moment with Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit, Riteish Deshmukh and Anil Kapoor. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ajay Devgn/Instagram

Comedy is probably the toughest genre, but Indra Kumar seems to have mastered it.

The director has some of the funniest films to his credit -- Ishq (1997), Masti (2004) and Dhamaal (2011).

His latest film Total Dhamaal promises to be a laugh riot and features a galaxy of stars -- Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Ajay Devgn, Boman Irani, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, Sanjay Mishra, Esha Gupta...

"One should concentrate on the subject, rather than the star. Initially, there was star power, but now, people want good stories. A great story always works," he tells Contributor Mohnish Singh.

How difficult is it to put together an ensemble cast in a film?

It can be hard as well as easy to convince them.

But when you have your script sorted and the writers have done their job well, each actor has his part well etched out and they know what they need to do in the movie.

So I don't think it is difficult to convince them.

But writing the story was a challenge.

IMAGE: Ajay Devgn with Indra Kumar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ajay Devgn/Instagram

Whose comic timing is the best?

Be it Ajay, Riteish, Madhuri, Boman Irani or Sanjay Mishra, everybody has their own comic timing.

I cannot judge or compare them.


How does it feel to be reunited with Madhuri Dixit after so many years?

It feels as if two long lost childhood friends are meeting each other again, as are reuniting after 26 years.

One could never have imagined that Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and I would come together for a film after so many years.

IMAGE: Johnny Lever and Arshad Warsi join the Total Dhamaal team. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ajay Devgn/Instagram

Aashish Chaudhary and Sanjay Dutt are not a part of this film even though they were a part of the earlier Dhamaal movies.

We changed everything about the film in its latest installment, and that's why Aashish Chaudhary isn't there.

Sanjay Dutt was approached for the film, but due to date issues, he could not make it.

We both regret it. If he was there, it would have been merrier.

Ninety percent of the film has special effects, something that has never been attempted by other film-makers before.

We ventured into something we were not aware of.

But by the grace of God and everybody's help, we could do it.

For me, it was a new territory to get into, as I have never done a film where special effects were involved.

It was Ajay Devgn's VFX Studio NY, which encouraged us. We did more than what we wanted to (laughs).

IMAGE: A scene from Total Dhamaal.

What sort of comedy do you enjoy the most?

I like all kinds of comedy, as I have ventured into most of them.

I have done slapstick comedy, horror comedy and sex comedy.

Total Dhamaal is a comedy film which you can watch with your family.

Do you fear critics?

Film critics have not praised me for a while now.

People ask me if I fear them and I always reply no.

Only flops frighten me.

IMAGE: Indra Kumar with Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor. Photograph: Kind courtesy Madhuri Dixit/Instagram

Your films are known to have great music, but you have used remixes in Total Dhamaal.

Everybody felt I had to change with the times, so I did.

We needed a theme song which talks about money, as the film is about that. Paisa Yeh Paisa was the perfect song.

Why not make new music?

When they are recreating my songs, why can't I recreate somebody else's songs?

There are two more songs from the film that are yet to release. They are unique and maybe once they release, your concerns might get solved.

Do you enjoy today's music?

Some songs are really nice and some are not.

I really liked Salman Khan's song Jag Ghoomeya from Sultan and Dil Diyan Gallan from Tiger Zinda Hai.

IMAGE: Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit in Total Dhamaal.

You have always wanted to make a film with Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Aamir Khan. Out of the three, two of them came together for Thugs Of Hindostan, a film that failed miserably. Do you think that had you directed it, things would have been different?

All of them tried their best, but when things don't work out, you can't help it.

My dream is still intact.

If I get a chance, I will work with Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit.

I still want to do that film.

From the current lot of actors, who would you like to collaborate with?

Most of them are good. I would like to work with Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.

IMAGE: Esha Gupta in Total Dhamaal. Photograph: Kind courtesy Esha Gupta/Instagram

Which recent films have you enjoyed?

It's all about good content these days.

If somebody says a certain superstar's film has released and it's not good, I would not go to the theatres to watch it.

But if the word-of-mouth is good, I don't miss a film. For example, when Badhaai Ho released, we immediately ran to theatres to watch it.

Uri: The Surgical Strike has proven that content is king and it is minting money.

Rajkummar Rao's movie Stree was so good.

It has been proved that one should concentrate on the subject, rather than the star.

Initially, there was star power, but now, people want good stories. A great story always works.

Down south, star power still works at the box office.

Even there, films starring superstars will flop if the story is not good.

Superstar Rajnikanth is worshipped and people believe he is God, but even his film Kaala flopped.

In one of your recent interviews you mentioned that Ajay Devgn would be a part of all Dhamaal films from here on. Have you already started working on the next installment?

Let this film release first and then we will decide on the next installment.

But yes, Ajay Devgn will be in it whenever the next part of the franchise is made.

Mohnish Singh