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Sangeeth Sivan speaks out his heart

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By: Joginder Tuteja, IndiaFM
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Apna Sapna Money Money has been declared as a success and none other than Sangeeth Sivan is at the top of the world. And why not? After all for the second time in succession [after Kya Kool Hain Hum], he has waded away all the criticism and delivered back to back money spinners. Over to the film maker who made a shaky debut with Sunny Deol-Sushmita Sen starrer Zor around a decade back but has now firmly found himself accepted in the film world over the years.

You must be gladdened to see a heartening response to ASMM.
Of course yes and what takes the cake is that the film is doing well in not just the single screens but even the multiplexes.

Thankfully critics were tolerant this time around and gave the film better rating than compared to your last Kyaa Kool Hain Hum.
If you ask me, I would honestly say that I wished critics wouldn't have given any rating at all to the film. Does it matter at all? I would say no. What matters in the end is public response to the film which in case of ASMM has been simply too good. I am least apologetic about the film I have made. See, critics are far removed from the reality and sit in their A/C rooms while coming up with their reviews. They put in their own sensibilities without trying to get into a film maker's mind and then judge what he/she is trying to tell!

So has ASMM been made differently than KKKH?
Obviously it is much toned down when it comes to sex jokes since it was made while keeping family audience in mind. And again, I don't have any qualms whatsoever to admit that it is a straightforward fun film which is more time-pass than being path breaking by any means. We avoided double meaning dialogues and incorporated elements like a dog and a 'tabela' that would get the kids excited. And again I am amused by the fact when critics say that the film was merely time pass. Arrey baba, wahi toh main bhi chahta tha...aao, film dekho, time pass karo aur ghar jaao! Simple!

So Sangeeth is certainly having the last laugh now, isn't that so?
Well, I can say that. If you look at some of the films that have released in recent weeks, there have been cases when even big stars haven't been able to pull them off. In comparison my film with a medium budget and an ordinary starcast has still recovered its entire cost in the first week and is now into profit making mode. When a film like this opens to an 80% opening weekend, I can only say that somewhere I have done things right; there is some segment of audience which is liking my film! If my film would have been vulgar, it wouldn't have been accepted the way it has been.

Still fact cannot be denied that the film does have its dose of double entendres.
See, if you walk down the road you would see that it is a similar lingo spoken by folks there. Also when I made ASMM, I wanted my children to appreciate it because they are the ones who would give a frank opinion and tell me on my face what is wrong and what is right. They seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed it and we all agree that the film wanted people to just laugh along and go home. Period! If I recollect the cat scene from KKKH that got so much of flak! It was just meant to evoke laughter but just look at the way that solitary sequence was picked up to thrash the film. I am 100% sure that the audience knew what Tushar Kapoor was up to in that scene and wasn't doing anything wrong. You must have seen Meet The Fockers. It is entertaining, no doubts about that but did these very critics raise their finger on it? No, instead they called it great and what not! Why? Because it came from Hollywood. But anything Indian and the daggers are out.

A delay in release by a couple of months seems to have worked perfectly to the plan.
Thank goodness for that! Initially even I was upset when I was informed about the postponement. After all every director wants his film to be out there on screens once it is ready and moreover I couldn't start any new film before ASMM released. But yes, in the hindsight it all fit in well to the plan. The film had a strategic release and was promoted very well with number of tie ups only helping the visibility factor.

Riteish factor is another major contributor to the film's success. Isn't that so?
And to think of it, while writing the script he was never meant to be a woman anywhere in the plot. What we were looking for was a turning point in the film that would bring in a major confusion. This is when the woman angle came in and Ritesih was named Sania to make situations further complex.

Anupam Kher was at his freakiest best.
Do you know that he was the one who brought in the element of blindness in the film? Since we hadn't thought about this and this wasn't detailed out in the script, we were undoubtedly quite paranoid and scary about what would be the final result. But then it is there for everyone to be seen!

Sangeeth, you started off round a decade back with Zor. Why are you seen just on and off?
Let me explain that. When I made Zor, it took a year to be completed. Now in Malayalam, I was used to making films in 3 months but here after a year I was quite lost. So after finishing 'Zor', I just packed off my bags and returned to Kerala hoping that offers would come my way even though I was miles away. But then I soon learnt my lessons. I realized that if your film doesn't work well at the box office, no one cares a damn about technical finesses you have as a film maker. What matters most is only money! I didn't get any calls and in the meanwhile I made some Malayalam films.

So was it a point of no return?
Na na, thankfully I was back in Bollywood business with Sandhya. It was a well made experimental film that was completed and ready for release. But then Jackie Shroff came up with his magnum opus 'Boom' which boomed and along with that went my dreams of seeing Sandhya on the big screen.

So what happened next?
While the promos of 'Sandhya' were on air, Ekta Kapoor called me and asked me if I could get started with a horror film for her production house. I asked her that why couldn't we make a comedy instead? After 'Chura Liya Hai Tumne' didn't work well, which had released some time back, I thought of doing something for the audience I wanted to cater to. This is how 'Kya Kool Hain Hum' was born. Also, I shifted my residence to Mumbai and got my family along because over the years I realized that it was always better to be in contact with the people here at Bollywood.

So what else is in the anvil?
Come December 10 and I would be beginning my next with Nana Patekar and Bobby Deol. I would term it as a Die Hard meets Yash Chopra kind of cinema. We are still waiting for the right title of the film but what I can tell you is that this will be a hardcore action film.

Starting with an action film [Zor], hitting jackpot with two comedies [KKKH and ASMM] and now back to action! Any special reasons?
See, in India any film can work irrespective of the genre. Ours is such a huge country and there is a market for every film. Now I hear 'Vivah' is doing quite well too. So great! It is nice since it only helps the industry grow. You have family movies, comedies, thrillers all doing well hence we all know that all subjects are finding acceptance in the market. It's all about packaging yaar! Get your target audience in place and you have a success in hand!

What more beyond the Nana-Bobby film?
Soon after I will be through the Nana-Bobby film, I will have another thriller with Nana titled 'Network'. The film is about a relationship between a man and his cell phone. It should require just a 30 days shooting schedule.

Any traces of 'Phone Booth' here?
No, not at all! 'Network' is an absolutely original film and is a complete drift from the kind of work I have done. The film actually deals with how eventually a cell phone becomes the cause of this character's death. After these two films, I would prove to people that if I am called the 'sultan of sex comedy' then I can even give you hardcore action and thrillers.

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