Sanam Re producer Bhushan Kumar, director Divya Khosla Kumar and DoP Sameer Arya chat with Team Box Office India about their soulful love story
Box Office India (BOI): Let’s start with Airlift, the first hit of the year. Were you expecting success on such a large scale?
Bhushan Kumar (BK): Not really, because of the kind of film Airlift is and it being based on a true story. All of us, including Akshay (Kumar), were initially talking about how this was real cinema that we were making. We never dreamt it would get such a great response commercially too. What the audience usually wants in a film is a heavy dose of commercialism even if it is based on a true story. With films like those, you take many cinematic liberties; you then add some masala and then some action.
But we didn’t want to do that in this film. Since the character was in a war zone, he could not play ‘Akshay Kumar’ as he is in other films. We were not sure how our Indian audience would react to us taking the situation forward realistically and making it unlike a typical Hindi film, where the hero fights 50 people.
It was a very big step and we felt that we may not be able to reach the `100-crore mark and we should target `50-60 crore. But everyone appreciated true cinema and the fact that the film didn’t look like a docu-drama.
This is a big achievement for our film industry and, as we speak, the film has crossed the `100-crore mark. It is a huge achievement, especially as the film was made on a very realistic budget. More than money, it has earned our production house a lot of respect. Since we started actual production two years ago, after Aashiqui 2, this film, after Baby, has earned us plenty of respect other than just money.
BK: Absolutely. After Airlift, every film based on a true story will benefit because now we know that there is an audience that wants to see this kind of cinema. So I would say the audience has evolved by leaps and bounds. The primary aim of films is to entertain, and while watching Airlift, people were applauding. That means they were appreciating what they were watching on the screen.
BOI: You started the year with a bang with Airlift, and your second film is Sanam Re, which is in many ways more than a home production.
BK: Correct. (Laughs)
BOI: How did it come about, Divya? After Yaariyan, how did you zero in on Sanam Re as your next directorial?
Divya Khosla Kumar (DKK): For me, cinema is not about making money, it is more about my passion as a creative person and how I grow and keep learning. Since I am very creative, it gives me a lot of satisfaction when I make a film. Yaariyan was of a completely different genre. It was a college adventure film. Of course, I wanted to challenge myself as a director and try something I had not tried before, and Sanam Re is a soulful love story. I cracked the script with my writer Sanjiv Dutta very quickly. Yaariyan released in January last year and by March-end, we had cracked the script of Sanam Re. I think it is also destiny because with Yaariyan, it took a lot of time to get everything together, from the script to casting to training the actors. I shot the film in 2-3 months but the pre-production of Yaariyan took a lot of time.
With Sanam Re, everything worked so swiftly so I believe that destiny wants this film to come out and reach the audience because it is a very pure story. It answers a lot of questions relating to love, about finding happiness, what soul mates are, whether it is all destined, and how love becomes stronger. So this is a very emotional and sensitive film. The film takes you on a rollercoaster ride, it makes you laugh and it also makes you cry.