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Reports on your film have so far been mixed.
From within the industry? Yes. But audiences have reacted very positively. I've now cut twelve minutes. There were portions that seemed repetitive. I'm glad I had those previews. They gave me a chance to see people get restless in the middle of the second-half. I had removed the song Mera dil before release. Fortunately we released only 30 percent prints on Thursday. So the main release was on Friday with the cuts that I had made. I did want to release on the 25th. Whatever has happened happened for the best. If I had cut the film after its all-India release people would've presumed I'm not secure about the film.
Do you feel long films suffer?
I don't know...In my film my audience is completely there, right up to the marriage finale. They are rooting for each couple. In the shaadi climax I've treated the line Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti as a joke. If you notice the music used for Akshaye Khanna and for Shanon are the same. That sequence is a satire. The audiences are getting the point.
There's the fear that episodic films don't work in India.
But Salaam-e-Ishq isn't episodic. The love stories are all woven together. All the six love stories happen together.
Why the pointed references to Karan Johar?
You tell me something. Which one filmmaker would an aspiring star want to work with? Karan is synonymous with Bollywood.
The Anil Kapoor-Juhi track is directly inspired by the Richard Gere-Jennifer Lopez film Shall We Dance?
Also American Beauty, and so many other films. Cinema must always seek its inspiration from what has come. And the Govinda track is inspired by Raja Hindustani and Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. My writers Sourabh Shukla, Suresh Nair and I thought about our favourite love stories while writing Salaam-e-Ishq. If you look at Govinda's track it's designed as a journey. The track Mera dil had so much of Rajasthan with Govinda and Shanon in it. A pity I deleted it. Thanks to you Govinda is back in the race. Thanks! People are questioning the quality of the script. I think it's a beautiful screenplay. That was the reason why all the stars wanted to be in my film.
Sohail Khan believes his scenes have been cut.
It was always meant to be five scenes. We shot six scenes and retained five of them. After Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya I realized he's a superb comedian. I just gave him the scenes and he improvised. He wasn't familiar with the Rajasthani accent. So I got my dialogue writer Sourabh Shukla to help him with his lines. And Sohail is a closet director. So he constantly kept asking me whether he should try this or the other thing. Like all efficient comic actors he loves to improvise. I feel vindicated. Sohail's story wasn't connected to the other love story. So when the film got lengthy everyone suggested I cut out Sohail. I refused. I knew people would start laughing the minute they saw his face. But the track closest to my heart is Juhi and Anil.
Like Anil have you been tempted to have an extra-marital affair?
Never in my life! My wife thinks no one would want to have an affair with me even if I wanted to. I love Anil's solo dance without a moustache...I've watched the film with a paying audience. They're happy with what they see. They say achcha hai par lambi hai.