Once again, rediff comes through with the interesting in depth interview. And we get to learn all sorts of interesting things about the film industry and AR Rahman and SHAHRUKH!
Here‘s the link to the interview, READ IT!
Okay, you back? Here were the bits I wanted to talk about. First, he discusses how he got into film.
“I told my brother I wasn’t happy with what I was doing; I wanted to do something creative [so I joined him in his TV house]…Money was flowing in easily, but it was a bit creatively dissatisfying for me. In 2001, I told my brother I want to quit. Television had given us financial security — a house, a car, a fixed deposit. I was ready to move ahead.”
“I told my wife that in the next four, five years, there would be no new house, or car or fixed ,deposit but I will take care of you. My daughter Radha was born in 2001 and yet, my wife was fine with it.”
“Basically, we are middle class people. We have basic needs — achche khaate hai, achche peete hai, haste hai, gaate hai, so jate hai.”
“I was expecting things to start moving for me in 2005, but that did not happen. I made my first film in 2007.”
See, I’ve always wondered about that! How people get training and money for film and so on, and how long it takes to get started. So, from what I am getting from this sample, there’s the usual family connections (his brother), but also TV was wide open and way easy to get into. And then he had to take a risk and spend 6 years struggling to even get a film in play.
And he goes on to say that even that film wasn’t a hit, nor was the next one, but he finally made it with Tanu Weds Manu, when he stopped thinking about making a film just to make a film, but about the story. I guess that’s interesting in terms of artistry, but I was more interested in the financial industrial details.
Next interesting section, his discussion of working with Rahman! I was just talking about this on my Monday Morning Questions post, how closely the directors work with the composers to build a sound.
“He’s a magician! He’s the pillar, the strength of my film. He doesn’t write the songs, he writes the connecting screenplays of my films. I cannot take every film to him. I only take films that I feel truly deserves Rahman. I honestly didn’t think Tanu Weds Manu should go to him. To make a film deserving of him, you have to work very hard at it.”
Rai spent 15 to 20 days in Chennai with the soft-spoken maestro for a song sitting.
Rai spent most of that time doing nothing, making friends with Rahman’s assistants and kitchen staff and exploring the neighbourhood.
One day, Rahman asked him to listen to something, something that he composed for Rai.
“It was Rahman humming a tune. And I was so touched!”
Isn’t that interesting? I don’t think composers usually get that much respect or credit, directors won’t fly across the country just to hang out with their kitchen staff, but of course Rahman is something different. But the general idea of spending 15-20 days total sitting with them, coming up with the sound for the film, and being excited when they come up with something original, inspired by your story, I think that’s fairly usual.
And finally, Shahrukh! There’s been all this discussion of him being a dwarf in the Aanand movie and why and what the heck it means. Turns out, it’s pretty simple!
“You may find faults in him, but you will fall in love with Khansaab very easily,” Rai says.
“So I thought let me remove about three feet from his height and then let me see how he makes people fall in love with him.”
Oh! Okay! That actually makes a lot of sense! You want to make him somehow unappealing, but you wouldn’t want to do anything to his face, because then you lose some of his acting ability (prosthetics covering up his mouth or eyes or whatever it is). Something like blindness (Hrithik) or a wheelchair (Hrithik again) doesn’t really make you unappealing, it doesn’t come across onscreen they way it might in real life. I guess the closest someone has tried this with Shahrukh before was in Koyla, which I was just talking about, when they removed his voice and forced him to act with everything else.
So now I’m excited! Let’s see how Shahrukh does as a romantic lead, when all he has is his charm.