His first film had the stars, and it did not fare well at the box
office. However, Ali Khan
">Saif Ali Khan
and Urmila Matondkar
managed to impress
the critics with their performance in 'Ek Hasina Thi'. Now, director
Shriram Raghavan is all set to make a mark with his next release,
'Johnny Gaddaar', starring Neil Nitin Mukesh
. This time, he hopes to
stay put in Bollywood.
Q.: How is 'Johnny Gaddaar' different from 'Ek Hasina Thi'?
This one is just the opposite of my first movie. In that movie my
hero played the role of a villain. But in my present film, I have five
people, who are doing things they are not supposed to. There is a
mystery in the film, not for the audience, but for the characters. And
I am sure the audience will enjoy the movie.
Q.: What's new in this film?
I'm working with Dharmendraji in this movie for the first time. And
five minutes into the movie, the audience will forget 'Ek Hasina Thi'.
Q.: What was it like to work with Dharmendra?
I have been his fan since childhood. I have seen all his movies,
and he mostly played a thief or a smuggler, especially during the 70s.
Keeping that in mind, I wrote this character for him. Dharmendraji
plays the role of a smuggler from the 70s, who knows the business
inside out. Neil plays a young man, who wants to learn a lot, within a
short span of time. Dharamji's character tries to advise him, to tell
him that the field he has chosen is not acceptable in society, but Neil
does not listen to him.
Q.: How did you discover Neil Nitin Mukesh?
I saw him sitting, with some of his photographs, at a production
office. Ashok, Hrithik's PRO, made me meet him later. We spoke for some
ten minutes, during which time I found out that he had assisted Aditya
Chopra. Then I narrated my script, and he showed interest. Ten days
later, he auditioned for me, after which he attended a workshop for two
months. I was looking for a Punjabi boy, who speaks and thinks in
English, and Neil was the best choice.
Q.: Jhamu Sugandh was the producer of the film at the beginning. What happened?
I did not want to bring in his name. Anyway, he was the official
producer for thirty shoot days, but he had to drop put due to some
financial difficulties. Too much hard work had gone into the film to
abandon it, so I sent a proposal to Adlabs, and they agreed.
Ali Khan">Saif Ali Khan" src="http://www.india-forums.com/bollywood/images/uploads/saif_ali_khan_big.jpg" align="left" border="" hspace="5" vspace="5">
Q.: Were you nervous about this hitch?
Of course I was a little anxious, but I always try to stay positive when things go wrong.
Q.: In 'Ek Hasina Thi', you presented Ali Khan">Saif Ali Khan in a new light,
like he was never seen earlier. How have you prepared Neil in this
I did not present Saif in a different way. He had worked in at
least 25 films when I met him. He liked the script and was willing to
play the character. Things are different with Neil. I have given him a
more contemporary character, someone from the present generation.
Q.: 'Ek Hasina Thi' was Saif's first negative role, much before 'Omkara'.
'Omkara' gave Saif better mileage. It's all a question of being in
the right role at the right time. You are being generous in your
compliment. I believe in team work. My spot boy deserves the same
importance that I get, for my films.
Q.: Why did you not take Saif for this role?
He's absolutely unfit for the character. He's thirty plus, Neil is
young. The story revolves around two and half crore rupees and Neil
fits in the story very well. These days, people talk about 500 crores,
and if Saif is shown getting affected by such a small sum, it will
become a comedy.
Q.: What are the hurdles that you faced during filming?
There is a scene where a train coming into Mumbai has some action
on it. It is a 12-mimute sequence. We shot in an actual train for this,
traveling between Mumbai to Surat and back. We also shot at Pune and
Lonavala stations at night. Our unit began shooting at Mumbai Central
at night. That was difficult. Parvez Fazal Khan is the man responsible
for the action in that scene.
Q.: Tell us a little about your next film, 'Happy Birthday'.
I am not doing 'Happy Birthday'. My next is an unnamed movie,
produced by Ramesh Sippy
. It is a love story, starring John Abraham
-Rajnee Gupta (SAMPURN)