Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Dharma Productions, with whom I worked. And there’s no point wondering what it would have been like had I stayed.
The media has written reams about it; the issue has been debated over and over again; and it has been the subject of much gossip. In fact, it all happened so quickly that both Karan (Johar) and I do not even know why it did. Honestly, there have been times when we have even spoken about working together again. And who knows? It might even happen some day.
However, this piece for Box Office India is about making it on my own out there. I don’t think I would have achieved all that I have if I hadn’t received the foundation laid by Yash Johar and Karan Johar. It has been tough, it has been a struggle. But I think it has also been relatively easy. The kind of responsibility and control I was allowed to have in Dharma Productions gave the industry a chance to get to know me independently as a director and a technician, and, therefore, I was never viewed only as an ‘assistant director’ to Karan Johar.
Not that there weren’t times when I didn’t question my abilities, when I didn’t feel insecure about my meetings with actors. What my exit did teach me, however, was to become strong and never take anything for granted. Perhaps that’s why I treat every meeting as a possible last meeting and work hard to make sure it all works out. Maybe that’s why I am so partial to working with directors like Vikram Motwane, Anurag Kashyap and Sujoy Ghosh, because, somewhere, we all just want to make films, tell stories.
There are many reasons a director chooses to make the films he makes. The script excites him, the actors are people he wants to work with or maybe it’s an unexplored genre. When working with a studio, you have a safety net and there’s a chance you could become complacent. That’s because there’s one aspect that is sorted out – what if this does not work and I don’t get another opportunity? I think it is this insecurity that has been the major driving force in me making the kind of decisions and films that I have.
I have had to make many choices and take some important decisions since I left Dharma productions. Some have worked out while others haven’t. But, the most important thing I have learnt is that I must make films I believe in. Hence, Delhi Safari (India’s first 3D animation film) and the bouquet of films that we at Emmay Entertainment (my new production company with Monisha Advani and Madhu Bhojwani) are now getting ready to produce.
I have no idea what mark I will finally leave as a director. But I hope to play a part in making cinema that is entertaining, responsible, and most importantly, I hope to keep doing what I am most passionate about – making films!