Farah Khan’s busy and how! She’s either travelling or putting the final touches to her movie or tweeting and spreading the word about her next film. She’s going flat out to make her third venture, now also as producer, big bigger biggest. From her busy schedule she takes time out to discuss her ready-for-release film and lots more.
One week to go for the release but there are already plans for a sequel.
Yeah, we’ve got a story idea for a sequel to Tees Maar Khan (TMK). But we will begin only after completing Joker, which we will start on January 24. There’s also very little time for pre-production.
What triggered the idea of TMK?
This question can be best answered by Shirish (Kunder) as he wrote the script. Post Jaan-E-Mann, he wanted to write a mad comedy. Not many know that Shirish has a wicked side. His favourite movie is Austin Powers and he can watch it ‘n’ number of times. He actually wanted to get into a genre like this and came up with the title, Tees Maar Khan, which I just loved.
What was it like working with Akshay Kumar?
Akshay’s work ethics are solid and it’s a pleasure to work with him. He arrives at 6.30 am for the 7 o’clock shift! This keeps the entire crew on their toes. If you knock on his vanity van door and say “shot ready”, it’s like a stop block and he’s there. In fact, there were times when we were not ready and he would ask whether the shot was ready, and I’d say, “No, please give me another ten minutes!” (Laughs)
Akshay exudes positive energy on the sets. There were no ego hassles and he was cooperation personified. Other than that, he gave us block dates immediately. We had planned a 70-day schedule, which we completed in 58 days.
And Katrina Kaif…?
She was more stressed than the rest of us and I don’t know why. (Laughs) We would tell her to chill but she would keep saying, “No, I have to tone my abs.” She was also worried about her costume and how it would look on her. Katrina is the hardest working girl I have ever worked with. For instance, for the song Sheila ki jawani, she worked out for months and ate the right food, which is why her body looks the way it does on screen. She also learnt belly dancing and set aside only eight days to rehearse the song. I am glad she is getting the kind of reaction she is! I had promised to give her such a kickass song that would help her rake in the moolah for the next two to three years. Considering that none of my films is heroine-oriented, I have always believed in presenting them fabulously.
Tell us one unusual thing about Akshay and Katrina that we don’t know…
They share great chemistry on screen. But you know, off screen, they don’t bother to talk to each other. Katrina says, “Akshay and I have done so many films together. He does not even look at me and I feel like a piece of furniture on the sets. He’s been such an integral part of her career that he can take her for granted. He’s also very protective about her. If Katrina has upset someone, I have watched Akshay speak to her as a father figure. And she listens to him.”
Is it true that Akshay recommend Katrina for the film?
Initially, I was thinking of signing a new girl. My team-mates would ask what kind of new girl and I would say “Someone like Katrina.” I even told Akshay that I didn’t want Katrina for this film because they had done too many movies together, and I always insist on a unique pairing for the lead roles. But finally I had to give in because she fit the role to the T. Katrina was very eager to work with me as well. Usually, actresses are only interested in who the hero is. Here it was a genuine desire to work with me as director. That was flattering.
Speaking of Akshay, do you know he feels you think like a man?
I know, I know. I read his interview in Box Office India last week and I take it as a backhanded compliment. But he also said I have all the qualities of a woman. But I don’t think like a man… I think like… (Pauses) I don’t know what a man thinks like… (Laughs).
I think like myself. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I don’t think film direction is gender-based. Seriously, I don’t know what women directors are supposed to make or depict. I have seen so many emotional movies made by male directors. If you didn’t know any better, you would assume they were made by a woman. I have seen many male directors get hyper and scream and shout and lose their cool during a shoot. I am organized, which I think is a womanly quality. I pamper people on the sets with good food and I also throw parties for them on the sets. Given the kind of movies I make, I think I think better than a man. (Laughs)
How different is TMK from the two masala films, Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om, you made earlier?
It is not very different from the genres I have made. But unlike my earlier films, here the script goes in one direction. See, my earlier films had five to six sub-plots and there were many different things happening. I remember, we used to have a tough time putting the climax together. TMK, however, has a very streamlined script that comes to a logical climax. It’s a good 45 minutes shorter than my earlier films – 2 hours, 7 minutes.
Was that deliberate?
The script was concise, one scene naturally blends into another. Of course, every scene is entertaining and enjoyable. If you delete a scene, you can’t move to the next one. The screenplay is much tighter.
Is there any scene that will remind us of the ‘70s genre? Except for me, there is nothing to remind you of the ‘70s! (Laughs)
Was it the success of Munni… that inspired you to make Sheila…?
The song Sheila ki jawani was shot before Dabangg was released. We shot Sheila in July or August while Dabangg hit cinemas in September. We had the tune much earlier. I shot Munni ten days before I began TMK. But let me tell you, they have nothing to do with each other in terms of choreography and music.
But the two songs are being constantly compared?
I am very happy with that as they are the biggest hit numbers of the year.
Have you thought of making a film in any other genres?
Yes, I sometimes think I will. I think I should make a thriller and I know I will be very good at it. The only genre that does not excite me at all is a love story. It is not my favourite genre unless it’s shot like the Titanic. But people with lingering looks have nothing to do in life but to fall in love and get married. That is not my cup of tea. Since I was a child, I have never enjoyed these films. I’d rather watch a Sholay than a Dilwale Dhulania Le Jayenge.
What about the horror genre?
I’d get scared to make it. Shirish often jokes with me saying, “You can make a serious horror film but people will still think it’s a spoof.”
Have you ever thought of making a woman-oriented film?
(Laughs) No. I haven’t yet thought of that. Even if I make one, it would be a fun film like Erin Brockovich and not some rona-dhona film.
What are your plans for next year?
We have started a production company, so doesn’t make sense to have long gaps between films. I have a few things in mind. As I said, we are working on TMK 2. I have a couple of other ideas too. There is one about a group of five boys that I have partly written. I have to see whether it still excites me. I want to take a vacation for a month or two and spend time with my kids.
Do you think being a producer is far more difficult than being a director?
As much as people may pretend, producing a movie is not really rocket science. If you have some intelligence and you are well organised and you know how to keep the budget in check, producing a film is not difficult. Sometimes, a producer can be at the mercy of a director or a star and that can put a film in jeopardy. So the marriage of a producer and director is very important, which Shirish and I have. There are certain departments that he will handle and where I cannot interfere and vice versa. For instance, we have bought the script of TMK from him and he said it was now entirely my baby and that if I wanted to make any changes, to consult him as a writer.
What drives you – professional relationships or personal relationships – considering relationships are fickle in our industry?
For me, personal relationships have always worked. It’s the opposite for Shirish, though. This works for us very well. If I were to make a film as producer, I’d be bankrupt. As for my personal rapport, well it gets me a lot of favours. For instance, Salman will do a song for me. Anil Kapoor will do a cameo in my film. Sanjay Dutt will do a voiceover. Our industry functions on personal relationships. With Shah Rukh, I would not have a contract till a month after the movie was released. It was done out of sheer friendship and love. And whatever he wanted to pay, he would give me out of friendship and love.