Welcome back. You’re finally directing another film?
Yes, I am in the process of completing the script and hopefully I will start soon.
When exactly do you hope to start your new film?
It all depends on Salmanbhai’s dates and health. Right now my primary concern is his condition. We all want him to recover fully. Phir movies to banti hi rahegi. For now the priority for all of us who care for Salmanbhai is his health. I will meet him once he’s back from Bangkok. I am working on a script that will hopefully bring out the best in him.
Do tell me a bit about the film.
My script is almost ready. It’s a family film again. With lots of characters. And each character has to be written carefully. It’s a time-consuming process and I don’t want to rush it.
Would it be in the tradition of Hum Aapke Hain Koun?
Ummmm…it would convey all the joys and sorrows of a joint family. It will have tears and laughter and of course celebration. But at the same time it’d be a little different from the family films I’ve made in the past. The definition of family values has changed in recent years. My film would have to reflect that change.
Your last film Vivaah came in 2006. Six Years is a long time to stay away from filmmaking?
Yes. During the last few years I took time off from direction to set up our company’s television branch.That took a lot out of my time and energy.
Your fans had begun to despair thinking you wouldn’t direct another film.
(laughs). No,it’s just that I had a number of activities happening. And I’m not a multi-tasker. I normally like to focus on one activity at a time. But here I was looking after the television business. And since I write my own films, my script-writing suffered. I am just not good at doing 2-3 things at the same time.But now I decided it’s high time I directed another film.
Your last directorial venture Vivah seemed inspired by Bimal Roy’s Sujata?
I kept in mind all the novels of Saratchandra Chatterjee while making Vivah. But my new film is not like Vivah.
Lots of rumours about your next film. Is it called Bade Bhaiyya ?
It sounds like something I’d call my film (laughs). But it isn’t. I am in the last stages of scripting. And there’s no title yet. I don’t know where that came from. I also read I wanted Arjun Kapoor to play the Bade Bhaiyya ke chote bhaiyya(laughs). I don’t know who my casting director is. But that person has a fertile imagination.
So there is no Arjun Kapoor in Bade Bhaiyya?
There is no Bade Bhaiyya only (laughs). Definitely no Arjun. Unless I finish my script there is no way I can approach actors. Nowadays every actor of every generation insists on a script. And forget nowadays I’ve never approached any actor for any film without a script.
Abhishek told me you even play all the songs during the narration.
That’s true. I am not likely to change my method of working. When the casting is announced it’d be done in a big way. Right now there is no casting except Salman Bhai. I keep reading information about my film. But the truth is, Salmanbhai is all we’ve decided. I’ve taken three years to write the script and I am yet writing. The closure of the script will happen only when a voice from within me says it’s complete.
Salman and you created history in Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun?
(Voice lights up). He is like my brother. I’ve spoken to him. But I’m yet to narrate the script.
No director has been able to get that innocence out of Salman. In fact he looks like you in your films?
We have a bonding that goes beyond the films we do together.
While you took a sabbatical from direction your assistants directed films that looked like clones of your film.
(Thinks for a while) I don’t know why. All those films were made with the correct intentions.But sometime your fail. I personally enjoyed producing all those films. Success or failure are in no one’s hands. One can only strive to do one’s best.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun(HAHK) remains your most iconic film. Is that a burden?
No It’s not like that. It’s not as if I had set out to make what you call an iconic film…Hum Apke Hain Icon(laughs)….No film is made with specific intentions. You just make what comes instinctively to you.
Which among your films is your favourite?
Until I make my next film the previous remains my favourite. So at the moment Vivah is my favourite. Now I want to tell a different story in a different format.
But HAHK had far deeper ramifications?
I agree. From the audiences viewpoint it is the biggest film of my career…I am blessed. Even today 18 years after its release people talk about it wherever I go. They give me so much love and respect for it.
In fact in Bela Sehgal’s Shirin Farhad Ki No Nikal Padi Farah Khan and Boman Irani have done takeoff on Salman and Madhuri Dixit’s Didi tera devar from HAHK
(Affectionately) Yes, I saw that. It was really wonderful of Sanjay Bhansali to have given my film such a prominence. I couldn’t ask for more.