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Jackky Bhagnani on Ajab Gazabb Love and why he isn’t faltu!

How did Ajab Gazabb Love happen?

My dad (Vashu Bhagnani, producer) liked the concept of the Telugu megahit Seema Tapakai. It has a very strong emotional connect. We got Sanjay (Gadhvi, the director) on board. Even though we bought the rights of the Telugu film, Ajab Gazabb is not a traditional remake. The core idea is the same but everything else, including the characters, have been changed.

There has been quite a trend of remaking south Indian films…

…And, it won’t be wrong to say that we at Puja Films started this trend. We’ve made 23 films and more than half of them have been remakes. Our blockbusters like Hero No. 1 and Biwi No. 1 were also remakes. Biwi No. 1 was inspired by Kamal Haasan’s Sathi Leelavathi while Hero No. 1 was a mix of many south Indian films and Bawarchi.

Your last film F.A.L.T.U. was a sleeper hit. Does that add to the pressure for Ajab Gazabb?

I was really taken aback when F.A.L.T.U. did so well. I didn’t expect it to become as big as it did. But I never really understood how much people had loved the film until I started promoting this film. The kind of love I have received is nothing like anything I have ever experienced. Living in Mumbai, people still treat me like a faltu, whose films don’t do well. I accept that my debut film (Kal Kissne Dekha) didn’t work but now I feel like I have been able to make some kind of a mark with F.A.L.T.U.

You mentioned people thinking that you are faltu. Do you still feel that negativity around you?

I am a very positive person so I don’t let comments like this affect me but I know what is being said about me. I know that I am here for the right reason. My dad makes more money in our construction division than in the movie business. So, if I was in the business of just making money, I would have been a builder. I wouldn’t have had to work so hard to get into shape or take any lessons. But I love cinema and entertaining people and that’s why I am here.

Is it a curse to be an industry kid?

If you look at it from my perspective, non-industry kids have it easier. They come in without the baggage of expectation. Even if their first film doesn’t do well, people give them another chance because ‘they are new and don’t have a godfather’. But like the cliche goes, grass is always greener on the other side.

For the first time in your three-film career, you have worked with an established director like Sanjay (Dhoom) Gadhvi. Was the experience any different?

Of course! Sanjay understands what works and doesn’t in a film. He gave us the freedom to try a scene our way and when it didn’t work, he’d tell us what to do. Working with a debutant director means that we are all fumbling in the dark, trying to find the right way.

F.A.L.T.U. had the party anthem Char baj gaye and Ajab Gazabb has Boom boom that’s become a chart-topper…

I am so glad that people think that I can be the face of partying for the youth. These songs are meant for everyone to let their hair down after a hard day’s work.

All your films have been produced by your father. Isn’t it time to venture out on your own?

It is time but I don’t want to work with an outside producer just because people expect me to. It has to be the right kind of project.

How is your next film Rangrez shaping up?

It’s a different kind of a film for me. I play a lower middle-class Marathi boy and have lots of action to do. Working with Priyadarshan has been an incredible experience.