Rakesh Roshan : I couldn't shift Kaabil's release date because I'm superstitious

Published On: 2020-04-02

Author: Meena Iyer

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Rakesh Roshan : I couldn't shift Kaabil's release date because I'm superstitious


Source: Mumbai Mirror
By: Meena Iyer

Rakesh Roshan explains why the Raees-Kaabil clash couldn’t be averted, why Hrithik moved out of the family home and why he has been on such a long break.

Describe your relationship with Hrithik today? Were you upset when he decided to move out on his own?

My relationship with Hrithik is better now than it was earlier, it’s actually very good. The reason he moved out is because if he stays with me, he cannot call his friends over or throw an impromptu party. He was too conscious of the fact that his father was there in the same house. If I were in his place, I would feel the same way. The only difference now is that he sleeps in his home at night and I sleep in mine.

He knows that we are just one phone call away. And every morning he comes home to spend time with his mother, Pinkie, and me. All of us exercise together and eat breakfast together. Just this morning, I was with him for a few hours in his apartment discussing work.

In 2006, Hrithik was ahead of the Khans with Dhoom 2 and Krrish being blockbusters. How would you say he is placed today in comparison to Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh?

Hrithik made his debut in 2000 with Kaho Na… Pyaar Hai. He is a decade younger than the Khans. Yes, like you pointed out, in 2006 he had a couple of blockbusters. But I don’t go by numbers because I feel that all the superstars are on a race track, like galloping horses. Sometimes one horse is ahead of another, sometimes one is lagging behind.

However, unlike the races, there is no winning post in this industry. Here you have to gallop continuously. Sometimes one star retires hurt and gives up, but the race doesn’t end. It’s there for any actor to run till he has the energy in him.

I am very proud of Hrithik because in a span of 16 years, he has done so many different roles which most actors haven’t attempted. Whether it is a mentally-challenged guy of Koi… Mil Gaya or the villain of Dhoom 2, the quadriplegic of Guzaarish or the blind man of Kaabil, he is not afraid of challenges.

He did a double role in his debut film, the two characters being distinctively different. It’s tough to launch an actor in a double role. He has a Jodhaa Akbar as well as the Krrish franchise in which he’s played a superhero with conviction and also Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in a span of just 16 years. And Hrithik has proved his mettle in every film.

You’re just the producer on Kaabil, yet you are so involved. Was it like this with your earlier productions too?

I have always been a hands-on producer, completely involved with the day-to-day work, even if I am not directing it. I was like that with Krazzy 4 and Kites too.

With Kites I had to back out after a point because the director wasn’t very organised and his assistants wouldn’t keep me in the loop on many occasions. Once, in New Mexico, I paid token money for four locations because I didn’t know where Anurag Basu would shoot. That was slightly disturbing. Also, they would do exactly the opposite of what I advised. Having started the film, I didn’t wish to make a fuss, so I decided to stay out. But deep down I felt that the film wouldn’t work. I had told Hrithik as much well before the release.

Has Kaabil been a good experience?

Good is an understatement, it’s been a pleasurable experience. My director, Sanjay Gupta, and I got along well from day one. I used his technique, he used my experience and emotions. It was a good marriage!

I give my directors everything on a platter, there is no restriction. But I will not tolerate wastage. Sanjay and I often collaborated on the screenplay and dialogues. If I found a scene lacking in emotion, I’d request him to up the EQ. He’s done a better job with Kaabil than I’d have.

Everyday, he’d send me the footage he’d shot and I’d go to the editing room first to see it. When I was happy I’d send him a thumbs up, otherwise I’d suggest minor changes. Sanjay’s technical finesse and my inputs to the emotional scenes, worked well. I have given him A-list technicians like cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee (Bajirao Mastani), editor Akiv Ali (The Dirty Picture) and the Academy Award-winning sound-engineer, Resul Pookutty.

What is your take on the Raees- Kaabil clash?

I am neither angry nor hurt with Shah Rukh Khan, Ritesh Sidhwani or Farhan Akhtar. To quote a line from The Godfather, “It is strictly business, not personal.’’

What is baffling is that SRK, Farhan and Ritesh came to meet me twice to discuss the release date and I explained to them that the box office window open to us collectively is approximately Rs 300 crore. They agreed, then went and announced that they are coming on the Republic Day Weekend of 2017.

Once SRK suggested to me that I should shift my date. I told him I couldn’t because I am superstitious. During King Uncle, I had pushed the release earlier by four weeks because of my daughter Sunaina’s wedding and the film flopped. After that I have never shifted the original date.

Even during Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai in January 2000, Aamir Khan’s Mela opened a week before our film and Shah Rukh’s Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani released a week later while Anil Kapoor’s Pukar was scheduled for two weeks later. Many of my distributors advised me not to come out on January 14 with Aamir on one side and Shah Rukh on the other. But I refused to change the date even though three distributors opted out two weeks prior to the release. They told me I was committing hara-kiri. I released the film myself in these territories and even mortgaged my house. God was kind, the film was successful!

I explained this to SRK and pointed out to him that if I didn’t shift the release then when my son was still a debutant and there was so much at stake, I wouldn’t now. I told them to move Raees two weeks ahead or release it two weeks before. They hadn’t even announced their date at that point. But now that they have decided to come on the same date as us, it is fine. Both the films together will do a business of Rs 300 crore. What is my destiny will not change!

Incidentally, Shah Rukh and I have a long relationship. He gave his first shot for a song in King Uncle in Nairobi. We later worked together as filmmaker and actor in Karan Arjun and Koyla. And years later, his company did the VFX for Krrish.

Is there any strategy to combat the clash?

I will give my film an organic release. Just because there is a clash, I will not up the ante as far as marketing goes. There is no heroism in Kaabil and no catch-phrases. It is the story of a blind man taking revenge. That makes him a superhero, that makes his story hair-raising!

Why do you take such long breaks between films?

I’m a filmmaker, not a manufacturer. Till I get a subject that challenges me, I will not make it. If I am making a film with Hrithik, I have to do something new. I cannot make the same kind of movies with him, over and over again.

In the last three years, I have heard 2000 scripts. But I still haven’t found anything to challenge me. I have only found something with a triple role for Hrithik but I have not been able to crack the script post interval. The moment I do that, I will set the ball rolling. And then there is Krrish 4 which I’m also working on.