Producer-director Sajid Nadiadwala, who has spent more than three decades in the film industry, says that he loves cinema very much and it is a passion for him. "I make films not with the mind but with all my heart. I think you have no other option to stay long in this industry," he added.
Sajid Nadiadwala will soon be releasing the Sushant Singh Rajput- Shraddha Kapoor starrer Chhichhore, directed by Nitesh Tiwari. The film is all set to hit theatres this Friday (September 6). In an interview with FilmiBeat, the producer said that Chhichhore is the finest film in his career of 30 years. "This is a film that I would like to give my children," he stated.
Sajid Nadiadwala also opens up about his career, the release of Kick 2, his friendship with Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What made you produce a film like Chhichhore? What attracted you to the script?
I keep an eye on what's happening in the industry. After I read the story of Dangal and before the film released, I called director Nitish Tiwari asking him if he had any good script. He told me that he'd finish Dangal first. In between, we had three-four sittings, where he narrated some ideas, but nothing that powerful was coming out. One day, he came with this idea, Chhichhore. I felt that this is a script that needs to be told. I went through sleepless nights for four-five days while thinking about it. I also felt that the director is good, so I need to go ahead with the script. This is a very sensitive film. After Dangal, he started writing the film. And today I can proudly say that this is the finest film in my career of 30 years. It is so well directed. At midway, I realised that this is the kind of film I want to give my kids. Surprisingly, the trailer wasn't up to the mark. It's difficult to convert a 2-hour 25-minute film into a 2-minute trailer.
With trailer's release, it is being compared to Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots, as both revolve around the story of college friendships and hostel life?
The originality and vulnerability of college life cannot change. Both Rajkumar Hirani and Nitesh Tiwari are equal in my eyes. The way they adapt to the situation of the college might be the same, but the story changes very differently. How to look at that world, how a kid should behave with his family, how a family should behave with the kid is totally different. However, you are talking about the best college film of Bollywood. So even if you are comparing the two, it's good.
You have given hits with everyone from Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar to Varun Dhawan and Tiger Shroff. Now, you are launching Ahaan Shetty as well. How do you understand the potential of an actor?
It's also about luck, I think. With Salman, I did Jeet, then Judwaa, where he played a double role. Those films worked, so we kept doing work together. Akshay was my school friend, we shared the same bench, school bus.... We have been friends for over 40 years. So when he was struggling, we did our first film together, Waqt Hamara Hai. We made about 10 films with Akshay and almost all are successful. Till 2000, I used to do one film at a time. Then I started to hear more scripts, spending more time in office. So, we were switching between one film with Akshay, then one film with Salman... In between the Housefull series came, then Kick came. With all this, I started making different cinema like Highway because I loved the story. Opportunities came to me, more than the other way around.
One day I heard a very good script, which was a remake of a South film, for which I needed a new face. I came to know that Tiger has tried his luck at two, three production houses till then, so we approached him too and I found him perfect for the film. The film hits the bullseye. Then Baaghi was also a hit, Baaghi 2 was a blockbuster. It gave me some courage that I can make films on a different subject too. After that, we made Super 30 with Hrithik. Nobody would have thought of making this script, maybe 10-15 years ago. Who can think of Hrithik turning into a Bihari? I have been in this industry for 34 years and I think this is the best time for our writers, directors.
What difference do you see in artists, producers, or directors of today's generation?
Today's artists are very professional. Earlier, a film was made over four-five years. Some used to go in search of a different costume and then they would come after two months. But today, films are made in four-five months. Today, if it's a 9 o'clock shooting schedule, and the actor comes at nine and a half, then people on the set start saying that it is unprofessional. In old times, there is a 20-day schedule and if the actor used to come on the 12th day, we would be happy to see how professional he is.
As you are delving into like every genre, from comedy to action; what is the one thing you look into the story?
I make two kinds of films. One, where I teach and one, where I learn. I worked with new directors like Ahmed Khan and others, so I teach them a few things. But some directors are there whom I learn from like Nitesh Tiwari, Imtiaz Ali, Kabir Khan. No one can survive in this industry for 34 years if he does not learn continuously. Even today, I get scared, happy, disappointed. But I believe that today's directors are very sharp and focused on their work. Administration and execution have become very good.
As a filmmaker, you have spent more than three decades in the industry. What tip would you like to give new producers?
For producers, until and unless they don't love their work, there is not a chance to survive. You have to love this profession to be a part of it. No other tip can work. If you see the other two, three big banners, you will see the immense love and passion for cinema. So, this is the most important thing.
How do you see the failure of a film?
Luckily, we have a track record of 90 percent with successful films. Even those which are weak, it is just because of the balance sheet. For example, Tamasha.. Wherever I go abroad, I get to hear good things about Tamasha. They may not talk about Kick and Housefull, but they like Tamasha. So, I think God has been kind to us in the last 20-25 years.
Today, where many big production houses are going at a loss, facing a financial crisis; what do you follow to survive here successfully?
Most importantly, I keep creative things only to myself. I keep watching world films. I watch movies in other languages too. If four movies come in a week, then I watch all four films. It's my passion. And there is only one person who greenlights a film, that is me. And I don't do any other business, I am only into this. When I started my career, I made two- three films for money. But they didn't work. Then I understood that movies are made with heart. I remember when we started Judwaa, there was a news that 'Ek Salman nahi chalta, do-do le liye'. But it was a film made with heart. I think if you make a film with business in mind, you lose more money.
From Salman Khan to Akshay Kumar, your friendships have been around for a long time. You started your career with them. How do you recollect your friendship with them after watching Chhichhore?
Both are different types of Chhichhore. But the good thing is that despite all the Chhichhorapan, both are very serious, very passionate about their work. Both are highly professional. Not only with me, but Salman has done a number of films with many producers. That speaks volumes about a person.
Talking about the friendship, we have a great time, off shoot. We party a lot, travel the world around and when we work together, thank God that we have been successful with each other. At the time of Kick, Salman had jokingly told me that I should direct the film. And he posted that on his Twitter account. I did not even know that I was going to direct Kick. After 10 minutes, my wife called me as to whether I am becoming a director. I said, I do not know. Then she told me that Salman had already tweeted that I am directing Kick. Off screen, we are all crazy.
Talking about Salman Khan, nowadays there are a lot of rumours about 'Kick 2'. Is the film releasing on Eid 2020?
I am just penning the script of Kick 2. It will take me some time to complete the dialogues and the screenplay. I will soon be announcing a film that I am planning to direct. You guys need to wait and watch. But yes, Kick 2 is not coming on Eid 2020.
You seem to be quite occupied for even the next year...
Yes, we have four films releasing in 2020, and then another four films the next year, and so on. So, we are fully booked for 2020-2021 with a maximum of four films a year. We cannot take away all the festival dates.