It may be more than a month away but 2017 is already poised for a blockbuster opening, at least at the box office. Two of the year’s biggest releases, Sanjay Gupta’s Hrithik Roshan starrer ‘Kaabil’ and Rahul Dholakia’s action-thriller ‘Raees’ with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead, are set to clash on the Republic day weekend. While neither side has shown interest in moving their dates -producer Rakesh Roshan has maintained that the weekend rightfully belongs to ‘Kaabil’ since he announced the release date first; ‘Raees’ makers argue they were left with little choice than to pick the same date as ‘Kaabil’.”There are only so many Fridays in a year,” they had contented.However, Gupta, who is following up his last outing, ‘Jazbaa’, which was met with little enthusiasm, believes that the clash can still be averted.
Bollywood award shows are TRP driven, says Sanjay Gupta
What do you make of the clash?
I wouldn’t say I am in denial but I think the clash could still be averted. In all fairness, Rakeshji did announce the release date first. SRK is a man of principle, a man of his word, he is a Pathan. I can’t fathom SRK stepping on someone’s toes. I don’t know if the films will come on the same day or not but I definitely think they shouldn’t. If someone else had announced a film before him, there’s no way in hell that Rakeshji would release his film on the same date. That is the respect we need to accord one another.
You sound anguished…
Hrithik is 10 years younger than Shah Rukh. So I don’t see this as a competition. Shah Rukh’s competition are Salman (Khan) and Aamir (Khan). Both the films won’t do more than a Rs 150-crore in a week because we have a Rs 300 crore box office window at best. When Salman releases a film solo, he gets Rs 300 crore. Shah Rukh should be looking at getting Rs 300 crore for his film and I’m sure he is looking at that possibility. I don’t understand why he would restrict the business of his own film. This clash is also going to be detrimental to them.
Heard you loved the ‘Raees’ teaser…
‘Raees’ is the kind of film that I would make. I’m looking forward to it. I want to see SRK playing a badass gangster, mouthing ‘Baniye ka dimaag and miyabhai ki daring’. I like his attitude. It is right up my alley. I was blown away with the first teaser.
Didn’t SRK and you start out from the same stable 25 years ago?
Yes, and I still believe in the Shah Rukh I have known since then. Both of us started out on the same sofa in the Sippy Films office. (SRK-starrer) Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and Aatish (Gupta’s directorial debut) kicked off and released at the same time and were produced by GP Sippy. I may not have gone to Shah Rukh with a film, but, knowing the man he is, I don’t think he can ever play unfair. No one in the business can accuse him of that.
Was there a period of uncertainty after ‘Jazbaa’ failed?
The phase between ‘Jazbaa’ and ‘Kaabil’ could’ve been trying but it felt like someone up there was looking out for me. I met Hrithik for a narration of ‘Kaabil’ four weeks before ‘Jazbaa’ released (October, 2015). He instantly said `yes’. Three days later, I met Rakeshji (Roshan), he approved of it too and came on board as the producer. The only glitch was that Hrithik could only shoot around July 2016 which would mean I’d be sitting at home for eight-nine months. I couldn’t afford to do that -in an ideal world, I’d be happy to concentrate on prepping for ‘Kaabil’ -the situation almost compelled me to start another film in the interim to keep my kitchen running. It made me unhappy because that’s not the reason to make a film.
There was talk of a lot of people `warning’ Rakesh Roshan about collaborating with you and vice versa…
Rakeshji received a lot of unnecessary advice which he was kind enough to share with me. He was honest enough to name the people who had forewarned him. Similarly, I shared my apprehensions with him. We decided to wear blinkers and focus on ‘Kaabil’, go in with complete faith. Rakeshji is a senior and successful filmmaker. I decided that even if there was anything we disagreed on, I’d agree to disagree but never disrespect his views. A director-producer duo is like husband and wife, at least during the duration of the film they are making, and honesty should be the foundation stone in that relationship.