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Where have you shot this film?
It has been shot in London for a very long time, and then it was shot in Punjab. We also shot in Kedarnath temple, we have shot in the Himalayas, we have shot at Ajmer Sharif Dargah, and we have shot at Taj Mahal, Rishikesh, and Haridwar. We have also shot at many places in Rajasthan, like in Jaipur city, the desserts, etc.
There were rumours that Ritesh Deshmukh and Bobby Deol appear in cameos in the film
There was a report that Salman Khan is also there in the film! So these kinds of rumors keep happening to a film. At the time actually, there were a lot of units shooting in London. Since we are all friends, we keep meeting each other. During one such time, Ritesh and Bobby had come to meet us and somebody clicked some picture on telephone. I don't know, it was some audience who had clicked the picture on our location and that was put on the net. That's how these rumors got momentum. Similarly, I was seen with Salman a lot of times in London. So people thought okay Salman is also a part of the film! But it is not at all true, and that's what I want to put on the record.
Javed Akhtar and Himesh Reshmmiya come together for the first time. Will that be a highlight of the film?
Himesh had always been telling me that whenever I make a love story, he would give me fantastic music. I liked the passion that he had. So when I was making a romantic comedy I thought of Himesh first. Then I thought that if I can get Javed Saab to come in, it could be very interesting because they both have very unique styles of writing and composing, and if they come together the album will have something very interesting, something very unique.
I have my own style, just like Himesh and Javedji do. So I was sure that all the three of us working together for the first time would create something interesting and to my happiness and satisfaction, the response that I'm getting for the album is quiet overwhelming. We launched the album in UK and USA on 24th and on 26th of February. It was sold out. So we have done a very big launch in India as well. Almost 3 lakhs units have been sold out, which is a very big launch in today's time. So I think the music has been appreciated, people have been messaging me, calling me constantly. Himesh and Javedji are also getting tremendous response on the music. So I think the idea of getting them together has or seems to be working. I hope more people listen to the music and like it.
What kind of music is it?
It has all the shades of romantic numbers. It has a couple of dance numbers, and some very soulful melodies. There is sad song in the film so there is mood of separation. So in all you will find all the colors of music here. There is a very folkish Punjabi song in it as well. So there are all colors of romance there.
Which is your favorite song in the film?
That's very difficult to say because we worked for almost 7 months, selecting the tunes and we have really done a lot of hard work on that. So after all that hard work, it is very difficult to say which one is my favorite song. It's like selecting one from your kids, it is just not possible.
There are some original tracks and remixes of it...
We thought of giving the audiences complete value for money. Anyway these days, people come out with remixes of songs without asking you, and they turn out to be very sad. We thought why not make our own remixes, and as we were doing that we got the idea of doing the Mehfil Mix of four songs which were soulful. Javedji has written some special poetry for all those songs and he has recited them as well. So its recorded in his voice which plays before the song in between the music pieces. There is a wonderful poetry which is connecting the songs; it is very well written by Javedji. This is something very new which Indian film audience doesn't get to see or hear quiet often, and whosoever has heard the Mehfil Mix are saying that I should put it in film s well. So in that sense, the response has been mind-blowing so far.
Whose idea was the 'Mehfil Mix'? Was it your idea or Himesh's idea or is it Javed saab's idea?
No it was Himesh's and my idea. It wasn't Javedji's idea. Javedji was initially a bit surprised to do something like this, but eventually it has come up beautifully.
There was a lot of controversy going on about Katrina wearing a short skirt in the Dargah scene. Do you think it will affect your film?
No, I don't think so because there was no controversy to begin with. We went, we shot there, and while we were shooting there for two hours nothing happened. It was later that some press released the picture of Katrina saying that the skirt is short and a couple of news channels tried to create a controversy out of it. But nothing happened because we had a word with the Dargah committee and we already sorted out the matter with them and they are more than happy with the way we have behaved on this particular matter. So there was no controversy at any point of time. There was an attempt to make it into a controversy but that didn't happen, so I don't see why it should affect my film.
And it has also been reported that this film is a remake of Purab Aur Paschim...
When Rishi Kapoor heard the script of the film, he said this film reminded him of Mani Ratnam's Mauna Ragam, the Tamil film. When Gulzar Saheb heard this script he thought that this was very close to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Now Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Purab Aur Paschim and Mauna Ragam have got nothing in common. The only good thing for me though is that everybody is comparing my film with the good films of Indian cinema. So I have no reasons to complain but you will see it's very original, it is not inspired from any film. The media will not believe it so I am not opposing it. I am just telling the audience to go and check it out themselves whether it is Purab Paschim or is it an original.
So how was your whole experience of shooting Namastey London?
It has been fantastic because for the first time I worked in a system which is used in Hollywood Cinema. My entire crew was from Britain. All the British were highly professional and it was a completely new system of working as far as filmmaking is concerned and I think the result is there for everybody to see. Its not good to talk about your film all the time. Sometimes the film should talk for itself. I think people will find it quiet different and new.
What are your expectations from Namastey London and what is the USP of the film?
The USP of the film is it's moderness as well as the humour element in the film. The performances in the film are of very high standard and I think the technical execution of the film is worth watching. So there are lots of pluses for the film and I feel that audience will enjoy the film.
I have no idea. I don't think any film director today can work on two films together, because the expectations from every filmmaker are very high. Audience today is so intelligent and so difficult to please that if any director even thinks of making two films at a time he will not be able to make a good film. That's how it has become, it has become very difficult to please the audience and it is good. Expecting something from filmmakers is not bad and I think to fulfill that kind of expectation you have to give your best to the film that you are doing. That's what we are trying and I hope that the audience appreciates the effort that we put in.
And memorable moments you had while shooting?
There have been lots of fond memories. But when you are away from your home and when the unit gels very well, it becomes a great shoot and it becomes a very pleasant experience. If the unit doesn't gel together and if there are fights on the sets or there are fights in the unit it becomes a very torturous experience to be there. I was shooting for almost three and half months. However, my experience has been very pleasant. We didn't have any fights we gelled like wildfire and we had great fun shooting the film, we had great fun even when we were not shooting. So it was a great atmosphere to work and I think that kind of atmosphere is very important for good creative work to happen and I think we all have enjoyed a lot working on this project. So all in all it has been very beautiful experience.
Your first movie Aankhen was an action thriller, and then Waqt was a family drama. This one is romantic comedy. After this which genre would you like to work on?
I have no idea. But yes I do want to try a new genre. I mean it is very easy to follow the kind of things that you have done before which have become successful, then there is some formula that you can find for yourself to make a film. However, I don't think that's the best way to go ahead, I like to try new things so I hopefully will be doing something very different than Namstey London or Waqt or Aankhen.
Both your movies Waqt and Aankhen were with Amitabh Bachchan...So why not this one?
Amitji not being in this film is a tragedy for Namastey London, honestly. You know every film cannot have your wish list completed. Amitji's health at that time was not at its best and I thought that a 2-month schedule out of town would be a real pressure on him. I didn't want to put him through that pressure so I didn't approach him for this film. I don't know how Amitji would have taken that, he might have been very angry with me but I thought that was the best thing to do. Now he is back in action, with full energy. Hopefully in my next film I would be having Mr. Bachchan working with me again.