Rohit Shetty’s record in Bollywood was impeccable – he made mass entertainers and was good at them. Whether it was an action film like “Singham” or the “Golmaal” comedy franchise, Shetty’s films routinely exasperated critics and delighted audiences.
But with 2015’s “Dilwale”, a multi-starrer with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead, Shetty faced his first big failure. The film didn’t do well at the box office and faced protests over Khan’s comments on intolerance in India.
Almost two years later, Shetty says he has moved on. His latest film, another edition of the “Golmaal” franchise, is Bollywood’s most successful film this year. It grossed more than 2 billion rupees ($30 million) at the box office. The director spoke to Reuters about his latest success, what happened to “Dilwale” and what Bollywood’s problem is.
Q: Congratulations on the success of “Golmaal Again”. Was it expected?
A: We always knew it would do well, but on this scale, it is madness. People are watching it multiple times.
Q: Why do you sound surprised? You are used to successful films.
A: Yeah, but… (laughs) there is always 10 percent of doubt – whether this will work or not.
Q: What was your state of mind after “Dilwale” released? What were you thinking?
A: I wasn’t thinking anything. You saw the film, and you knew something has gone wrong and then there were so many issues and controversies going on, it was better to leave it all and move forward. That is how we started working on “Golmaal”. You know what you are doing, but the industry just comes out with speculation and everybody has their own point of view. It is better to start working on your next (film) as soon as possible.
Q: Did you question your way of film-making after “Dilwale” didn’t do well?
A: No, if you go wrong sometimes, you analyse it – that we should have stuck to the original draft and not changed the script.
Q: Is that what went wrong?
A: Yeah, yeah. That, we realised when it released. Again, there were so many things happening with the film. It didn’t release in so many centres, etc, that it was better to just leave it all and move on.
Q: Did you do anything differently in this “Golmaal” film?
A: If you see the scale of the film, it’s not just another comedy that we go to Goa and we shoot in a bungalow – the whole range of the film, the look, the emotional element of Parineeti’s character, and the ghost bit. People say times have changed, but it is not that times have changed, it is that people want to see something new in the same genre. Every genre was there and will be there forever. It is just that you have to upgrade yourself, which is what we did.
Q: The industry is now increasingly talking of concept films, high-concept films, etc…
A: (interrupts) The problem in the industry is that there are 15-20 directors, three-four production houses and seven-eight actors. The rest of them, nobody is working, so they are talking. (Laughs) Everybody is talking.
The new problem in the industry is that there is too much bakwaas (nonsense) happening. Everybody who has a 4G or a 3G (phone connection) is a critic or knows about cinema. Nobody knows what the audience wants. Nobody is going through the history of cinema, nobody is thinking about what was happening earlier. Just because three films with big stars didn’t do well, it doesn’t change anything.
Q: What do you think is the future of the mass entertainer in Bollywood?
A: If it didn’t have a future, it cannot be a fluke that the film made more than 200 crores (2 billion rupees). And it cannot be a fluke that people are watching it twice or thrice. There are so many niche films which haven’t done well. A good film will do well, whether it is a “Newton” or a “Bareilly Ki Barfi” or a “Golmaal”.
Just because a commercial film has come, niche cinema won’t work – that will not happen. We talk about Amol Palekar, but what was he making at the same time that Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan was a superstar? Whether it was Naseeruddin Shah or Omji (Om Puri), who all came in at the time… “Naseeb” was being made the same time as “Ardh Satya”.
It’s just a panic button. There should be a GST on giving suggestions like this. Then maybe people will stop. (laughs)