What is "Dolly Ki Doli" all about?
It is a female dominated romantic comedy about a con woman and three guys. Besides Sonam, we have Rajkummar Rao, Pulkit Samrat and Varun Sharma as leads.
Why did you zero in on Sonam Kapoor as the lead?
She figured in our first short list. When it comes to casting, we need to tick certain box that is whether the concerned artist has the required dates, and will also give the extra bit which the character requires. Then comes the important part of whether she will be ready to work within our budget. We met Sonam, she heard the script and was excited. She has fulfilled all the above parameters and I am satisfied with her output.
Why did you not cast yourself?
I don’t cast myself, just because I am the producer, I should fit the character. That is why I was apt for Makhi in the Dabangg series. As far as this film goes, there was just one princely cameo which I felt I could do justice to. But even then I had placed myself number three in the picking order. Saif Ali Khan was my main choice and he agreed to do it.
The release date of the film has been altered?
Over the years, I have learned a lot about film marketing and release windows. I am also taking adequate. After a little to and fro, we came to the conclusion that given the marriage genre of the film, 23rd January was the ideal date, as it is bang in the middle of the wedding season and plus we have holidays until the 26th as it is Republic Day.
But now, you have a face-off with "Baby"?
I feel it is not a risk as our genres are completely different. I would have preferred a single release window but that is a tough task given that out of 52 weeks, 12 are booked for biggies, so we have to make do with the balance 40. In this scenario, it is next to impossible to find a solo window and even if we have one now, someone may come there eventually. That is when I moved Dolly Ki Doli from 30th to 23rd; I thought I will get space as we need a second week to allow our film to grow.
Will you get enough screens?
I am not really bothered about screens, there are more than enough currently, we have 5000+ screens and will release in max 1500-2000, my film will not have more than 1000, pushed to 1500 if the buzz gets really hot. So there are still around 1000 screens vacant. The success of PK shows that the market has the potential to go up to Rs.36-40 crores on day one. Baby will get around 14crs, I will be happy to get between 3-6 crores on the first Friday. So, there is space for all.
There is some controversy that "Dolly Ki Doli" is similar to the Punjabi film "Ronde Saare Vyah Picho".
Look, no one has seen my film concept wise, many films are similar, but you can say ‘copy’ only if the characterization, screenplay and hook points are same. I met the maker of "RSVP" and I told him that his film released in September 2013. My writer had registered his script way back in 2012. I came on board by the end of 2012, Sonam came later so things took time. This way, I can on the contrary accuse them of copying my seed. We both were inspired by a newspaper cutting of a Hyderabadi lady who had 12 I husbands but we chose different plots.
Is it right to force the director Abhishek Dogra to sign a three film contract with you
Everybody including Yash Raj Films and Vidhu Vinod Chopra do it. If we trust someone new with a big project, we should be allowed to gain some leverage financially. We should have the first right of refusal. But having said that, if he comes up with an idea which I feel is not my zone, but he wants to make it, I will not stop him. Did I stop Abhinav Kashyap from making Besharam after Dabangg? Anybody will move out if he is offered thrice the moolah. The director himself should have moral obligations. Rajkumar Hirani could have worked elsewhere after 3 Idiots but he stuck with Vidhu Vinod for three films though, on a sharing basis.
Can you tell us about your role in "Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon"?
It was a pleasant surprise when Abbas–Mastan who had given me a break as a merciless wife beater in Daraar thought that I was fit to play a comically deaf gangster. I am working in the film with Kapil Sharma and he is a great actor.
There were newspaper reports which suggest that the climax was reshot on your father’s suggestion?
I feel sad when certain senior journalists write stuff despite me clearly telling them that is not the case. It takes around 50/60 days to shoot the climax, it is not easy. Dad (Salim Khan) just suggested some minor changes which we incorporated.
Can we see you working with Salman again?
It would be unfair or my part to expect Salman to work only with me after Dabangg. He also does not have it easy, besides me, has two other producers (Sohail and Arpita) at home, plus he has started his own home production. So I think it is time I made good films with others and I am sure that is what he would also want me to do.
What do you feel about the chances of "Dolly Ki Doli"
I am quite confident about its fate as it has all the right elements that is emotions, music etc. the filmmaking process is quite long and hence it is tough to maintain your enthusiasm throughout. But I am proud of my product, now let’s hope the audience appreciates it as well.