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A Fruitful Journey of Producer Murad Khetani

Murad Khetani of Cine1 Studios talks to Padma Iyer about his cinematic journey, the success of Kabir Singh and his upcoming films

Cine1 Studios started its journey in 2012. How do you look back at this seven-year journey?

While I had the plans in place as to this is what I am going to do and all, but the one that I was sure about was that I want to make good films, collaborate and work with good directors and actors. We started with The Shaukeens with Akshay Kumar. Then we did Mubarakan and then now we have Kabir Singh which is a huge success at the box office this year. Next we are coming up with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 which stars Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani. We are doing another film with Sandeep Reddy Vanga who directed Kabir Singh.

I am very happy with the way our company has progressed and with the future plans and lineup that we have.

The films you have made have been co-productions. Was it always the plan?

It just happened. We did Mubarakan with Sony. We did Kabir Singh with T-Series and are working with them again on Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. I have a good relationship with them.

But then you may have to adjust. Two people will have a different point of view. How do you work out the differences if any?

The thing is, before joining hands we always have a clear understanding about what our roles are. This makes things comfortable and you don’t have any misunderstandings. For example for Kabir Singh and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, I know that I am doing the production so it’s my call. I am taking all the calls for production.

As a producer, you must come across several scripts. How do choose the one you want make?

I meet a lot of writers and directors. I also watch a lot of South Indian films. I watched Arjun Reddy, liked it and then bought the rights for its remake into Kabir Singh. I have also gotten rights for another South Indian film. I keep watching films.

When I read a script, I get the feeling that this film should be made. We get more than 50 scripts and the rejection ratio is multiple times higher than what we finally select.

Kabir Singh is the biggest success for your production house till date. But the film received its fair share of criticism as well. How did you deal with?

See, the thing is, criticism comes with every film. Yes, as far as Kabir Singh is concerned, criticism was much more because of the kind of central character the film had. Neither the actor nor the director tried to say that we like this character. It was just a character in the film. Criticism is attached with every film. We have to be prepared for that.

Your next big film is Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. How did it come about?

I received this script approximately two years ago. The writer came to me and narrated a one-line story. I thought that it was good and we should develop it. Then about six months ago I was talking to Bhushan (Kumar) ji about Bhool Bhulaiya and I told him that I have a script and it could be made as Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. He was looking for a script for the sequel and when he saw it, he too liked it. We just joined hands for the film and started working on it. We narrated it to Anees Bazmee and he loved it and he came on board as director. He is a writer himself, so for him to like something written by someone else is a huge thing.

How involved are you in the making of a film?

Be it choosing a director, actor or even budget, we have a say in all these things. Once the director is on board, then we don’t get involved into other things much. It’s not like I don’t get involved in the creative process, it’s just that I don’t interfere much. I get involved in the sense that we discuss the casting; we discuss the locations, and so on. I don’t say that don’t do this or don’t do that. That is interference.

Satellite Shankar is all set for release. What are your expectations from the film given that it is coming after Kabir Singh?

I have a very positive feeling about the film. I have seen the film and it is well made. It should do well. It cannot be compared with Kabir Singh. Every film can’t be Kabir Singh. It is a smaller budget film. Kabir Singh was much bigger than this. I cannot expect same result for every film.

You have worked with Anees Bazmee and Sandeep Reddy Vanga before and will be working with them again. What makes you repeat your directors?

One thing is that both are very good filmmakers. They have proven themselves. Sandeep has done two films Arjun Reddy and then the same film in Hindi. Remaking a regional film in another language is a very difficult thing. These are great filmmakers and there is no doubt about it. We had a good working relationship in Kabir Singh and we are working again for another film. Aneesbhai is such a senior director and so he has a good experience. I loved working with him in Mubarakan and we are very good friends now. I am very happy because if a director is ready to work with a producer again then that means that the producer is good and is paying you well. (Laughs).

What is the update on the Sandeep Reddy Vanga film?

It is a crime drama and he is writing it. It should be ready in a couple of weeks. Then we will decide whom to approach for the cast. We have not yet locked in anyone as yet.

What kind of films do you want to make in the future? Is regional cinema on the cards?

It should be good film no matter what the genre.

I haven’t thought about making any regional film as yet. But if something good comes my way, I can always do that. It’s not like I don’t  want to get into the regional space. If something interesting comes up then I will surely do it but I am not specially going and looking for a project that is regional.


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