KABIR KHAN: 300 CRORE IS NOT THE BENCHMARK I HAVE IN MIND FOR BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN!

globalmovie     08 Feb,2016         No Comment

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Director Kabir Khan has his hands full with two back-to-back releases this year; first beingBajrangi Bhaijaan on July 17, followed by Phantom on August 28. He talks to us about his upcoming film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, his fight with Salman during Ek Tha Tiger and his fixation with Pakistan.

There is a huge buzz surrounding Bajrangi Bhaijaan, how excited are you for the film?

I am very excited. Yes, people are appreciating our trailer and all the other communications that we have sent out to them. We (me and Salman Khan) are very happy with the film. We are really excited to share this film with everyone as soon as possible. A lot of work is still going on like the marketing of the film and the finishing touches, but I am really excited about the film.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is an emotional journey. How has the journey been for you from the start of the film till now?

This film is something I’ve felt very strongly about from the time we started writing the script to the time I narrated it to Salman. It is a film that we both instinctively reacted to and we were really excited to make it from the get go. The excitement level has been high from the first day of shoot till today, when we are sitting 10 days from the release. Why? Because it has a story and backdrop we believe in and both of us have strong views on the issues that we have spoken about in the film; we both also like the lovely and engaging story of this little girl and Salman’s character. Therefore, the whole process has been really enjoyable and that thing is very important for me because I believe that the process of film-making should be as enjoyable as the film itself, otherwise the energy doesn’t show on the screen. This film had a positive energy throughout the shoot.

You seem to have a fixation with Pakistan. We first saw it in New York, then in Ek Tha Tiger and now in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. What fascinates you so much about our relations with our neighbor?

I try to put real context in my films; I try and put an energetic political backdrop to my films. Unfortunately for us, a lot of the conflicts of our world today are dealing with India and Pakistan and that ends up being inadvertly a backdrop to my films. But, it’s not a conscious decision that I take to make films that have to do something with the India-Pakistan relationships.

But, yes I do feel strongly about our relationship because I believe that there needs to be a common man to a common man friendship between the people of both the countries and this is very important. You can have problem at the political level, but that should not transform to the people because then we will end up living in a situation of negativity and hatred for the rest of our lives.

They are also humans and we have to recognise that we should not transform what their government is doing to their people; they don’t feel exactly the same way. They do not support the State sponsored terrorism that their government indulges in. We all know it exists and we have a strong take against it. In fact in my next film, Phantom, I’ve taken an aggressive stance against it. But, the Pakistani people aren’t part of it. We lost 166 or more people during the 27/11 terrorism attack, but imagine they lost more than 260 children in the Peshawar attack. The Pakisatni people are not behind the attacks, if they were then why would they kill their own children? We have to understand that and this message has been common in all my films.

The fascination for the Indo-Pak relation comes from my fascination of political backdrops. In our time right now, our conflict has been very much with Pakistan, the terrorism and the misinterpretation of Islam and so on. All that has dominated the last ten years of our life and that’s the time I have been making my films, so these situations crop into the backdrop of my films.

Salman and you had a small tiff during Ek Tha Tiger. So, how did you break the ice with Salman the first time you met him?

There was not really a fight between us, what happened was that we had a lot of discussions and debates about how to approach scenes, but it never went into our personal space. We always discussed and argued during Ek Tha Tiger, but by the end of the film we totally understood each other and that’s why Bajrangi Bhaijaan happened. I actually realised that Salman feels strongly about certain issues and I also equally feel about those issues and if we got some similar feelings about a project then it will be perfect to work on. Therefore, Bajrangi Bhaijaan happened and the film went smoothly; there was no debate or tussle on how to approach scenes this time around.

So, it was easier working with him the second time around?

Yes, it was much easier to work with him this time around as we understand each other now. See it takes some time to understand someone and their approach.

Salman is emotional as you said, how else would you describe him?

He is a transparent man, he is what you see and there are no hidden agendas or complexes. He wears his heart on his sleeve, he says what he feels and he is an extremely warm & affectionate person. Once he is your friend he will go to any length to do things for you. He is a remarkable person.

How important was getting the right girl for Munni’s role? It’s being said that you auditioned around 5000 girls for the role, so could you please elaborate about the audition process?

We knew from the word go, when I was writing the script, that the most important casting for this film will be the girl. If we don’t get the girl right, this story cannot work and this is something I had told my casting director Mukesh Chhabra. I said, “Mukesh, this is something we have to get right. Do whatever it takes.”

We auditioned girls in Mumbai, Pune, Chandigrah, Shimla, Delhi, Kashmir and we even got in touch with people from Kabul & Tehran to get child actors from there. The girl doesn’t speak in the film, so we could take people from other countries too as long as they looked sort of Indo-Pakistani. We auditioned a lot of girls and it was actually difficult as they were all so beautiful and cute and it becomes difficult to judge about who will ultimately perform.

You cannot judge a six year old on the basis of their acting skills; you have to judge them by spending time with them and realizing that this is the girl who will be able to deliver the goods. So we went through all the auditions and then we shortlisted a few girls. We then brought them to a workshop in Mumbai where I spent time with them, did some exercises, chatted with them and so on to figure out if they had the correct energies to do a film which is so big and who out of them will be able to go through so much of travel and put in a lot of hard work too. I saw all those elements in Harshali (Malhotra) and that’s the reason why I chose her.

What do you make of the Rs. 300 crore trade talk surrounding Bajrangi Bhaijaan?

That is just trade talk and they need to do it as this a big film, a superstar film and it is one of the biggest films releasing this year, so of course people will talk. Everybody today talks about numbers and these numbers become a fascination for the audience and our trade. Every time a superstar film comes up, whether it’s Salman or Shah Rukh or Aamir’s film, everybody talks about numbers.

I do not pay too much attention to that, I think beyond a point numbers should not define a film. Yes, a film should be successful and should make money, but numbers alone cannot define a film. Let’s see what happens. If it does Rs. 300 crores, then it’s great; but that is not the benchmark that I have in my mind.

Are you planning to do some other film after Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Phantom?

There are a few ideas that I have but because I have shot two films back-to-back for the last two years, I have done nothing but shoot, so I need to take a break. I need some clarity of mind to think clearly about the next film that I want to do, which actor I want to work with and so on. I guess that will take some time, so I will take a small break and then resume. I can just say that I have two ideas in my mind and they are very different from one another. It will take me some time to decide which one I want to do.

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