Blockbuster director Rohit Shetty in conversation with team Box Office India
Rohit Shetty (RS): When we made the film, we knew people would like it, especially the audience that likes to watch my kind of cinema. But we never thought it would take such a huge opening. That was a surprise.
BOI: When you say ‘your kind of cinema’, what do you mean?
RS: A Rohit Shetty and team film! When I say ‘my kind of cinema’, there is a segment of the audience that watches my kind of films and a segment that doesn’t. Those who like my kind of cinema are also part of my team. They belong to Rohit Shetty and team!
BOI: Do you say ‘your kind of cinema’ because you have worked so hard and for so long? And was it difficult to build the ‘Rohit Shetty genre’?
RS: (Pauses) It was difficult.
BOI: Did you always want to make films of this kind?
RS: I have always wanted to spread happiness and I am happy doing the films I make. But it’s difficult when your film is about to release. On the morning of its release, people trash you on Twitter and Facebook, some TV channels and newspapers. You have to swim against this tide and conquer. It’s always been difficult and will continue to be.
RS: Eight! Haan, total eight hits hain, vajan zyada hai. I don’t really have a formula. It’s just that we work with honesty and we work hard. I’m not saying that others don’t. But I guess I am lucky.
BOI: When you say ‘Rohit Shetty kind of cinema’, a Singham is different from a Chennai Express, which is different from a Golmaal. So it’s not like you’re replicating the same type of film.
RS: No, it’s not a replica but we always upgrade from what we have done. We are always doing better than in our previous films, keeping all the ingredients in mind to cater to the audience, drama, comedy everything. It’s like the trailers of some films… ki iss film mein drama hai, action hai, comedy hai.
BOI: Baring the critics, who else criticises your movies? Within the industry, most people believe in your kind of cinema and want you to succeed with every successive film. Is it because they believe you’re an incredible human and you should thus be showered with success?
RS: (Laughs) It would be incredibly stupid of me to say that I am an incredible human being. But it’s a small industry and if you speak ill of someone, they get to know. I have stayed away from this. I believe in karma and keep away from the slightest bit of negativity.
BOI: As a trade magazine, we are in touch with everyone from the industry, whether filmmakers, distributors or exhibitors. Everyone speaks with the utmost respect of two directors – Rajkumar Hirani and Rohit Shetty. Whenever a film from either of you is about to release, they want both of you to showered with success. Why do they have so much faith in you?
RS: I would like to thank the industry for having such faith in me. I am such a small guy. I never think ill of anyone because that’s the way I have been brought up. More than believing in God or keeping upvas (fasting) and doing pooja, I think it’s better not to think badly of anyone or it will come back to haunt you. Also, God has given me so much, so if I think or speak ill of anyone, it would hurt Him. In gratitude, it is better that I work for Him and I guess that’s what people like about me. It’s best that you don’t interfere in anyone else’s life. That’s why I am not on Facebook or Twitter. Let me clarify that all those accounts are fake.
You guys are friends and to this date, I have never called you to check how much a film has made. I never do that because everyone should grow. And if everyone progresses, I will progress. What I charge or what my budgets are only show that the industry is progressing. That way, my future will be better.
RS: Being humble is in my nature. But I am not diplomatic. I am stupid and because of that I get phasaoed sometimes. Because I speak my mind and speak my heart. Delivering hits will always be difficult. Even when Singham released, I was scared on that Friday morning and was wondering what would happen to the fate of my film.
BOI: Despite being Rohit Shetty?
RS: If you take success for granted, then it’s all over. The moment you start thinking that main kuch bhi banaooga chalega, kyunki main Rohit Shetty hoon, that would be my downfall.
BOI: You don’t believe in the word ‘I’?
RS: ‘I’? NEVER! It’s always ‘US’.
BOI: Do you see a change in the way you shoot now, given your body of success?
RS: Yes, there are a lot of things that I have to keep in mind and that is because my entire team and I go into the psyche of the audience. When we started work on Singham Returns, I asked them if the film is what they would want to see, or what is it that I would want to watch in Singham Returns. Was it great action, dialoguebaazi, drama, a bit of humour and a lot of emotions like Singham had? So I asked them if they would like to watch all that in Singham Returns and they all agreed. So I try to get into the mind of the audience and understand what it is they would like to see me doing in my next film.
And, even after my film releases, our work is not over. My ADs make the rounds of cinemas, observing how people are reacting, which cinemas they are reacting, and if they are reacting, how they are reacting. We keep all this in mind when we are making our next film.
BOI: Do they make a note of all those things, like, iss scene pe achchi tali mili par iss scene mein humko laga tha logon ko achha lagega par aisa nahi hua?
RS: Yeah! They note down all these details and let me know what is working and what’s not. Like when we made Golmaal 2, we thought it was a horrible film but it did well. I would say that my most mediocre work was Golmaal Returns. It lacked emotion and we were arrogant, and we made a lot of fun of other films. That was a learning experience for us, that God has given us so much and we need to chill. After that, we started putting emotions into films like All The Best, Golmaal 3 and Singham.
RS: That’s when you need to have a reality check. Today, you may say I have delivered eight hits but, for me, Raju Hirani is one of the finest directors. For me Rang De Basanti is far better than any of my films. You need to have that reality check.
BOI: Or, for that matter, even the box office gives you a reality check.
RS: No, but… When I say reality check… The box office is good but there are many films that are not good but they do well perhaps because of the star or a hit number. At the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself. When I watch Singham Returns, I know it is one of the best films I have made so far. But my body of work is nowhere near 3 Idiots or Rang De Basanti. And that keeps me on my toes… inspiring me to work harder.