The lead pair of Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, Kapil Sharma and Elli Avram, with producer Ratan Jain and producer-director duo Abbas-Mustan in conversation with Team Box Office India.
BOI: Let’s start with Abbas bhai and Mustan bhai. One usually associates suspense thrillers with your names. How come a comedy this time?
Abbas Burmawalla (AB): Our films always include an element of comedy, whether Baazigar, Khiladi or Ajnabee. After Baazigar, Shah Rukh said that since we had done a thriller film with him, we should do a slapstick comedy. And we made Baadshah, which worked just as well. Coming back to Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (KKPK)… we were working on some stories when the writer Anukalp (Goswami) narrated this story to us. He said, ‘I am narrating this to you but it doesn’t belong to your genre.’ We heard the story and we loved it.
Mustan Burmawalla (MB): When we heard it, the first thing that came to mind was, whom should we cast as the lead actor? We didn’t want to cast just any actor. Since this was an unusual character, we wanted an actor who would fit the role perfectly. We told the writer, ‘Jo character hai na woh dimaag mein rehna chahiye.’
AB: We told the writer to not be impatient and that we would work on the film when the time was right. The good thing was that Anukalp belonged to Kapil’s (Sharma) writer team.
MB: We saw his show, his popularity, his sense of timing and his humour and we thought of contacting him for the film. Since we didn’t have a phone number for him, we asked Anukalp to have a chat with Kapil and let us know what he had to say. After he spoke to Kapil, we met him and narrated the subject to Kapil. He immediately said okay and the film was on.
BOI: Kapil, what was your reaction when the project came to you?
Kapil Sharma (KS): Anukalp had told me about it earlier although he had not narrated the whole film to me. All he had said was that he had an idea and Abbas-Mustan sir wanted to meet me. He said there were three wives and one girlfriend in the story. I thought this one-liner sounded good. I went to meet Abbas-Mustan sir and they said it was a character that could be done only by me. I had never really planned on getting into films and I was happy doing stand-up comedy. I used to do theatre, and I am talking about serious theatre, not comedy. So I was surprised. But I honestly believe that when things happen unexpectedly, they usually turn out to be a good thing. When we all met, there was a positive vibe and we decided then and there that we would do this film, and that we would start in about a month.
MB: Kapil said we should inform him about the dates and that he would adjust the shoot of his show. That’s how our film started.
KS: To date I have heard about 40 scripts. Writers always visit our office and I always hear them out. I listen to all the scripts as it helps to know what people think of me. Abbas bhai and Mustan bhai saw something in me; they thought I had good timing. Secondly, Abbas-Mustan sir were backing this project and Anukalp is a friend. So there was mutual trust among us. When you share a vibe like that, you understand each other’s perspectives.
BOI: With Ratan Jain coming on board as co-producer, it was like a reunion of the Khiladi, Baazigar, Baadshah and Humraaz team.
MB: (Cuts in) We have been associated with Ratanji for a long time, so we understand each other very well. When you work with a corporate house, the formalities run into 50-60 pages. When we started our careers with him, woh zubaan waali baat thi.
KS: Woh hi sabse achi baat hoti hai…
MB: Likha padhi aaj tak ki hi nahi. We share that kind of trust not only with Ratanji but with his entire team. So it is very easy.
BOI: With regard to KKPK what made you back the project as a producer?
Ratan Jain (RJ): I came into the project at a later stage, when Abaas bhai, Mustan bhai, Kapil and Anukalp were already working on the film. I knew that Abbas bhai was planning to work with Kapil, and at one point, I even told Abbas bhai that we should do it together. So, he said okay, let’s meet. Every film I have done with Abbas bhai and Mustan bhai has been a success.
KS: Touch wood!!!
RJ: And who doesn’t know about Kapil? I used to watch his show and so I thought this was something new. If the film was being made with a regular hero or a newcomer, I wouldn’t have backed the project. I would have told Abbas bhai, paise vaapas kaise ayengey? But when you do business, you acquire a level of confidence. You know that you can promote the film, you can market the film, you know how to present the film to the audience. And when you are sure you can do it, you produce the film and leave the rest to fate. When Abbas bhai told me about the film, I didn’t ask him what the story was about or kitni biwiyaan hain. For me, it was, Abbas- Mustan and Kapil Sharma are on board, so let’s do the film.
BOI: KKPK had the longest promotional campaign in the history of Bollywood!
AB: We were shooting in Rajasthan. It was a deserted place and we thought it would be fun to shoot on that day. After some time, people started showing up and it was surprising to see that people there knew Kapil Sharma.
KS: Woh log patthar todne wale thhey… saare majdoor and they stopped their work and came to watch the shoot.
AB: It didn’t seem like they watched films but they had watched Kapil Sharma’s show. And there were around 10,000 people.
KS: Since everybody knew we were working on this film, everyone who came on the show inquired about the film. And television has such a wide reach. So whenever a star used to come on my show, they would ask about the film. Besides, Abbas bhai and Mustaan bhai have been in the industry for long that they have a long-standing relationship with everyone. So whenever Amitabhji (Bachchan), Abhishek (Bachchan) or Akshay (Kumar) would ask about the film and the production, toh meri bhi promotion hoti gayi! Abhi toh jitni film aa rahi hai, unke promotion ke saath mere film ki bhi promotion ho rahi hai. Recently, when Abhishek was on the show, he was very excited. The moment he entered the show, he asked me about the trailer. He said, ‘Our films keep releasing but this is your first film.’ It feels really nice.
BOI: A lot of actors have said that they will host a Comedy Nights With Kapil for your film.
KS: Oh yes, even Shah Rukh bhai said… the other day, even Abhishek said he would come when we are promoting my film. Everyone is excited and there is a craze to see what I have done in the film.