“We have to present the old formula in a new way”

2017-10-25 18.03.12

Golmaal Again!!!, which has entered the ‘`100-crore club’, is writer Yunus Sajawal’s second big film of the year, the other hit being Judwaa 2. Sajawal himself has plenty to boast about, with 30 of the 42 films he has written being super hits. The writer firmly believes that the roaring success of these two films signals the return of the masala entertainer

Soumita Sengupta

Congratulations on your second film of this year earning ‘Rs 100 crore’.

Thank you. All thanks to the audience, who believe in us and in entertainment.

Was it tough to crack the story line?

Yes, it was very tough. We had been thinking about it for very long. Golmaal 3 released in 2010, after which there were a few ideas but we couldn’t crack it. After Dilwale, we were working on another film whose script we were trying to crack but couldn’t. So we went back to the concept of Golmaal Again!!!. From the beginning, we wanted to give the story a horror angle. And, this time, years later, when we revisited the story line, we cracked the story in one week. They say ‘Jab jo hona hain, hota hain’, and that’s what happened with Golmaal Again!!!.

Horror is a very tricky subject.

Totally, and in India, horror is not made as a horror film, also because the really big actors don’t do horror films. But when you make a Bhool Bhulaiyaa, it works. A horror film should have a story line and we made a comedy, which audiences really liked.  We did justice to the story.

Speaking of doing justice… Apart from your five main lead cast members, you also have a huge star cast that is famous. Was it a challenge to do justice to each and every character?

To conceive a script like Golmaal is very tough. And then to have such a huge star cast, it gets even tougher. We have 17 artistes and it is therefore a challenge to do justice to each character and conceive such massive characters. We have hardly used junior artistes because every actor in our film is an important character.

But the Golmaal franchise is very popular among audiences, especially among kids. Once the second Golmaal released, I realised it was not just the leading cast that the audience liked. Some liked Vasooli, some liked Babli Bhai, others liked Sawant and some liked Anthony Gonsalves. So each character became famous and the audience loved all of them. While I was writing, I had to do justice to each character. Screen time was not important but given the roles the actors were playing, they made it a memorable film.

When we decided to make Golmaal Again!!!, it wasn’t an arbitrary decision. We waited for the right screenplay.

When did you realise that Golmaal had become a huge franchise?

To be very honest, after the second film released. The first one was loved by everyone. When Golmaal Returns released, the opening and weekend collections kept pouring in. We realised how much the audience loved the first one and that they were waiting for this film to release. And when Golmaal 3 released, people started coming in from 8 am for the morning shows. That’s when we knew it had become a lovable franchise.

The first show of Golmaal 3 was almost packed; that’s how much our audiences love our work. And remember, no one comes to watch Golmaal alone, they come either with friends or family. So we have always had fans, from grandfathers to grandsons in the audience. In fact, kids who were 7-years-old when the first Golmaal released are now 15-years-old and they all came to watch the film as loyal fans of Golmaal

Every instalment in the Golmaal franchise has a different story. How did you make sure the characters did not appear monotonous or the gags weren’t repeated? 

I spent almost a year and a half scripting it. We started shooting only after all of us were convinced about the script. As you said, the stories are different but the characters are the same. None of our stories revolve around these five characters. There is always a plot, a story, and then we connect these five characters to it. Each time, we add a different touch to the characters.

You have been  working with Rohit Shetty for a very long time. How would you define your professional relationship or chemistry with him?

I have known Rohit bhai for more than a decade. And I know when he likes a scene and when he doesn’t. I can tell by the look on his face when he doesn’t like a scene I narrate. Then there are times when you know he loves it! This is the kind of wavelength we share as a writer and director.

I have worked with many directors but this kind of vibe is very rare. Rohit bhai is an encyclopaedia when it comes to films. He is passionate about cinema. When I narrate the scenes to him, I know exactly what he is thinking and where and how he wants to shoot it. He is very clear and imparts this clarity to his team.

Usually, Rohit Shetty’s films are based in Goa. Was this instalment deliberately set in a hill station?

Absolutely. Rohit bhai wanted to revisit old cinema, and during the ’90s, films were frequently shot in Ooty. That’s why we chose Ooty as the backdrop. That way, we could have the hills and lots of greenery. We also wanted to set the horror element in a hill station.

Bollywood is making some good content-driven cinema and audiences are embracing it. In that context, there is talk about formula-based films not working any more. Do you agree with that?

I believe the collections of Judwaa 2 and Golmaal Again!!! prove what our audience wants. On the pretext of ‘content’, you can’t give them a sad film they will not connect with. Audiences want entertainment, emotion. And what makes me happy is that the success of Judwaa 2 and Golmaal Again!!! has proved again that our audience wants to watch Hindi cinema; they want to watch masala entertainers; they want to watch formulaic films. But those films have to entertain. We have grown up watching a certain kind of cinema and we love watching it even today. It might be an old formula but one has to present it in a new way.

The problem is a lot of people watch Hollywood films and they want to make something like that. But, in India, what works is films that are Indian, films that entertain, whether it is Aamir Khan’s Dangal or Mithun Chakraborty’s Boxer.

Our country’s population is 1.324 billion and the collections of those films is only Rs 30 crore; the basic collections should be at least Rs 100 crore. So we need to make cinema keeping India in mind, not only the multiplex audience.

You have been working for so many years. How do you keep yourself updated with the latest trends and the youth?

The Internet is a blessing and I watch a lot of films and in many languages, from Bengali to Tamil. I watch YouTube videos, talk with people of all age groups. I also believe that experience matters.

 

Soumita Sengupta
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As on 17th November, 2017
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