Is it a state of 'kabhi khushi kabhi gham' for you?
(Says after a hearty laugh) You know what, the way Milenge Milenge has seen decent collections coming for it over the weekend, I definitely get a sense of redemption. I know how much effort went into the making of the film. I still kept quite all these months because no one would have understood why I was supporting this movie. Everyone used to say - 'stale hai picture, purani ho gayi, nahi chalegi' etc. etc. But tell me one thing, agar aapka bachcha 5 saal ka ho jaaye aur phir bhi apne aap chal naa paaye, toh kyaa aap usko apni zindagi se alag kar doge? You will still support it, right?
You are hinting at your lead actors withdrawing themselves from the film as years passed by?
I am not hinting at that; I am directly stating that. If I would have spoken about this before the release of the film, it would have looked like some cheap publicity. Unnecessary ki controversy ho jaati which I didn't want. I wanted to keep a dignified stance rather than throwing any muck around. I don't even want anyone to be hurt even now. But yes, the quantum of people who went and saw the film makes me feel good that we did something right in the making. Audience saw the film for its own merits even though the actors didn't urge them to do so.
Do you feel that Shahid and Kareena may be wondering whether they did the right thing in not talking about Milenge Milenge at all? After all the film could have added on to their repertoire as a success?
Yaar, main abhi bilkul nahi soch raha ki woh kya soch rahe hoge (smiles). It's the facts and figures doing the talking, not me. The film has made 7.5 crores in just the opening weekend. Last couple of films of Shahid - Paathshaala and Chance Pe Dance - couldn't garner such collections. I don't have anything against these films or Shahid's acting there. All I am referring to here is that these are the films which he believed in and promoted heavily. He didn't believe in Milenge Milenge and look at the kind of appreciation the boy is fetching. He is so loveable in the film and is being liked by all who are seeing it. Main pehle bolta yeh sab toh lagta that I am trying to gain mileage and flattering him into promoting the film. But now I am just reiterating what audience and critics are saying.
But really, didn't you ever feel like having a heart to heart chat with him before the release of the film?
There was no point in doing that. Being someone who started off so young with me five years back, Shahid should have reached out to me and offered all his support. I have seen him grow right in front of me. When he was a kid, all of us used to motivate him that he would be a star one day. I had started work on Milenge Milenge after Tere Naam. After Salman Khan, I could have worked with anyone but I chose to rope in Shahid because I sensed a potential in him. Now that he was flying high, he disowned the film. Aise thodi hi hota hai. We stay in the same building but I keep my professional and personal life aside. I didn't step into his place for any help. When I am off the sets, it's a different life for me. My dignity is very important to me.
In the past, there have been number of examples when stars have supported their old movies as well. Shahrukh Khan went all out to bail out Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam while Salman Khan too fulfilled his commitment for the promotion of Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya...
(Interrupts) This is the reason why someone was telling me the other day that there should be a law that ensures the producer that his actors will definitely stand by the release regardless of the time period that goes into the making of a film (smiles). Jokes apart, the fact is that Shahrukh and Salman are there because of what they are. Superstar log aise hi nahi ban jaate. This was a film where Shahid could have easily followed the path of Shahrukh and Salman and gained further goodwill for himself.
Coming back to the economics of Milenge Milenge, the fact that still cannot be denied is that theatrically, it hasn't done bumper business in the lines of other recent romantic films like say for example I Hate Luv Storys?
Why are you comparing apples with oranges and that too of a different breed (smiles)? Milenge Milenge was made 5 years back, had a treatment which was from that era and most importantly was made at a cost which used to be prevalent then. Aaj ki tarah crores mein remuneration nahi hoti hai. Everything combined together, whether it's the making of the film, print, publicity, promotion and interest, brings the film's total investment to 15-16 crores. Today, if you count satellite rights, home video, overseas, music and of course Indian theatrical, the final sum is going to 21 crores. Tell me which film today is getting his producer 30%-40% profits? You decide for yourself if this kind of recovery makes it coverage, average, semi-hit or hit. It's your call.