Times have changed. How much has your cinema changed?
Change is inevitable. 'Woh khansama ka zamana chala gaya'. Nowadays it's the era of fast food. No one is bothered about the delicacies of the eating ritual. Accepting change is important. I've to make my cinema within the given parameters of change. If you notice, Kismat Konnection even has a different kind of music. I've to incorporate today's sensibilities into my own vision. The story remains practically unchanged. But the mode of narration has to change. I'm not here to make great cinema. But I do have a certain literary background and a cultural grounding. That will show up, no matter when I make a film. One change I've made is to make my new film shorter. It's just 2 hours 20 minutes long. My earlier films are longer. Today's audiences don't have patience to sit for leisurely narrations. I can't prolong moments in the narration any longer. And maybe the silences are not that pronounced. Kismat Konnection is also the first film I've shot abroad in Canada. But it doesn't matter where the story is situated. It could've been located in any vibrant metropolitan city.
Would you call it a compromise?
No. I'd call it an acceptance of reality. One needs to work around the limitations. 'Jitna chaadar hai ussi mein banana hai'. My son Haroun, Masha Allah, has contributed tremendously to Kismat Konnection and my previous film, Chalte Chalte. Very soon he'll be directing a film and I'll be helping him out. Theek hai bhai. The young generation has to be pleased. So be it. I had thought I'd make another subject. But I guess it was destined that I make Kismat Konnection. This kept coming back to me. I genuinely feel this film had to be made. Before I realized it, the film was complete.
Did you get the full co-operation of your team?
It becomes so much easier when you're working in an atmosphere conducive to productivity. I do believe when I work on a happy set, the happiness shows in the film. The positive vibes show up. I must thank my film's producer Ramesh Taurani for signing Shahid Kapoor at a time when Vivah and Jab We Met hadn't been released. The film's commercial viability wasn't that high when we started making Kismat Konnection. But I had decided on Shahid. 'Mujhe woh achcha lagta hai'. To give the film a new look we shot it in Toronto. I haven't traveled much. We chose Toronto because it seemed less expensive than US or London. Besides, I wanted the bustle of Mumbai.
People in the industry look on Shahid Kapoor and Vidya Balan as replacement for Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla in your cinema?
We shall leave that to the audience. Every actor has his or her own identity. Anyway, to be compared to Shahrukh and Juhi isn't a bad thing. Shahid and Vidya look really nice together. I was very comfortable working with them. They've brought in their own dimension to their characters. I had made a film about kismet. When I was 14-15, I remember my father telling me that at that age it was foolish to believe in destiny. But as you grow older you are a bloody fool if you don't believe in destiny. Whatever I've achieved today is because of many forces that I had no control over. But in Kismat Konnection, I've shown my characters believe that they can make their own destiny. That's what being young is all about. I've a fortune-teller in the film. But I've made sure she remains an ambivalent character. You never know whether she's a fraud or not.
Do you watch Hindi films?
Occasionally, I do try to catch the important ones. If someone recommends a film, I see it. Among the recent ones, I like Madhur Bhandarkar's Page 3, Tigmanshu Dhulia's Haasil and Anurag Basu's Metro. Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa Akbar was a very sincere film. That's why it worked. I've made a film after five years. After Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, I didn't want to over-intellectualize my cinema. My name is attached to Kismat Konnection. Whatever I've done for television till today, I've nothing to be ashamed of. It may not be exceptional work. But it's decent work. Where are the exceptional films today like V Shantaram's Do Aankhen Barah Haath, which have withstood the test of time? I'm just happy making logical cinema. I'm not aspiring to greatness.