In spite of being an acclaimed director, why did you ask Anurag Basu to direct your own film Kites?
It was not a conscious decision on my part to assign the task of directing Kites to Anurag Basu. It was totally unplanned. It so happened that I used to see only the name of Anurag Basu, besides the three names in the list of nominees, including me in every award function, the year I was nominated as the Best Director for Krrish. I was intrigued by Anurag"s film Gangster, which figured in the list after Lage Raho Munnabhai, Rang De Basanti and Krrish and was keen on watching it. I got a DVD, watched the film and liked it immensely and after I called Anurag over to my office, I told him that he knew the pulse of film making.
Did Anurag jump at your offer instantly?
Interestingly, when I asked Anurag if he could direct a film with Hrithik Roshan, he said that he has never made a film on a big canvas and every film of his had till date cost only around three to four crores of rupees. I told Anurag that I had a story idea for Kites and narrated it to him. When he told me that he liked the story, I asked him to direct the film because I did not have to achieve anything more and just wanted to make a good film under my banner. Anurag said that he was shocked and asked me for some time.
Did he come back in a few days?
Anurag came back to me exactly after 25 days. I realised that he had his own thought process and vision of Kites. When he narrated to me and Hrithik the story and screenplay of Kites, both of us liked it immediately. If you think of it, the story is the same but what makes it different is the way Anurag has presented it by giving it a new angle screenplay wise. There are two types of filmmakers. One makes a straight commercial film whereas the other does things in between the screenplay and makes it interesting. I asked Anurag to concentrate on the screenplay and assured him that I was there, as far as business was concerned.
How did the idea of Kites emerge?
I saw two kites flying in the sky and felt that it was quite romantic. It struck me that it was a nice plot for a romantic story. When the winds are stronger, the kites soar higher in the sky. The biggest message that I have set out to drive home through Kites is that love has no language or for that matter boundary. It is a film which gives its own message. Kites is a very simple story which has been narrated in an interesting manner.
How would you describe Kites?
Kites is out and out cross culture love story. We wanted to make it as a global film by taking Spanish or for that matter even a Russian actress. If I had cast an Indian actress she could not have spoken in Spanish. We decided to settle down for a Spanish actress because I am assured of a wider market in the sense that I have assured audiences in not only Latin America but also the USA where 50% speak Spanish. Kites is a thriller. Since Anurag Basu had made Gangster, I knew that he could make Kites. There was no question of my interference in the film, because I was just the production manager of Kites. I am happy with the film, having given a big break to a director who has till date made only three films. I am happy with the way my film has shaped up. Anurag will be the most sought after director even if my film does little business.
Tell me about Barbara Mori!
It was a blessing in disguise that we cast Barbara Mori, because besides the fact that she is a popular actress in Mexico, she could merge with her character beautifully because in real life too, she did not know English. Barbara Mori is a fine actress. I did not know that she is the No.1 heroine in L.A. She was stunningly beautiful in the film My Brother"s Wife. Barbara has done seven to eight films there. Anurag went to L.A. to narrate the script. The day I signed her, I showed her Jodhaa Akbar and she spoke highly of Ash.
Didn"t the fact that she is married and has a child out of wedlock deter you from casting her?
So what if Barbara is married and has a child? A girl has to be good looking and also in good shape. I had translated the script in from Hindi to Spanish and sent her. She had absolutely no nakhras except that she said she would not do the dance number or sing because she is not used to singing and dancing in films.
Do you regret having asked Raja Sen to direct your film Krazy Kiya Re?
I feel that it was a mistake on my part to have asked a new director like Raja Sen, who had assisted me for five years, to direct Krazy Kiya Re, though the subject as well as the actors were good, because it was like asking a Basu Chatterjee to make a Amar Akbar Anthony or for that matter a Manmohan Desai to make a Khatta Meetha. Raja wanted to make dark films since his genre was different.
Do you miss acting?
I do not miss acting at all. The last film in which I had acted was Koi Mil Gaya. I am out of the rut now, because as an actor I just cannot wait for two years for a film of mine to come up. I am happy being a producer or a director.
What do you have to say about Hrithik Roshan?
As a director, Hrithik has given me a lot of confidence to take up different subjects. If Hrithik was not there, I do not think I could have made either a Krrish or for that matter a Koi Mil Gaya. Hrithik looks every inch a super hero in Krrish or a king in Jodhaa Akbar or a mentally challenged boy in Koi Mil Gaya. I knew he would suit the role of Jai in Kites too. It is only if you are a good actor that the beauty of the character will come through in a film. I have not given any tip to Hrithik at all, because I am of the opinion that you learn only when you make a mistake.
What is your approach as a director?
As a director, it excites me to make different films. I had sleepless nights when I set out to make a film like Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai with new comers. I take on subjects which given me sleepless nights. I do not plan my films. The subject dictates the casting in my films. I get the guts because my son is there with me. Today I feel that it is very risky to make a normal film but easier to make a film with a new plot to give the audiences something new to see. I liked 3 Idiots a lot. I have always liked to shift genres. After Khudgarz, I did not make a film with two friends. Then I made Kishen Kanhaiya and Khoon Bhari Maang. Both were dynamically different from one another, genre wise.
How do you feel when you look back at your career?
I have struggled a lot and have not forgotten those harrowing days of mine. That is what keeps me going. Today I work ten times more than ever before because I have ten times more responsibility as a filmmaker. You will be in the forefront if you keep on making good films. We should always think that the audience is more intelligent than we are. My first film as a director- Khudgarz ran well and gave me the confidence. Had it been a flop; I"d not have been in the industry today.
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