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Since 1st March, 1999
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To know nothing

Why have you decided to premiere Chandni Chowk To China in Los Angeles?

It’s the home territory of Warner Brothers (the presenters of the film). It’s as logical a place as anywhere else. Moreover we have got an actor (Akshay), who is superb, who wants to go to LA, New York, London and most importantly Chandni Chowk, the heart of India. This film is clearly made for an Indian audience so we want to ensure that we reach out to the audience in Chandni Chowk as well as LA.

As a director yourself are you happy with the way Nikhil Advani has given shape to Chandni Chowk To China?

I am very happy. It’s a terrific film with an amazing superstar at the heart of it. I am very lucky that everything fell in place — Shridhar Raghavan’s script, Akshay came on board, Nikhil agreed to direct and the film has such an interesting backdrop.

The whole world is facing a recession right now. Do you think this is an ideal time to release the film?

I will only be able to know whether it’s the right time or not after the film’s release. It’s a very strange time but work has to go on in all walks of life. I hope we can give people entertainment for the money they shell out for the ticket.

Why did you postpone the release of your other production The President Is Coming?

We decided to postpone The President because a couple of big films were coming this month.

In The President Is Coming, President Bush is the butt of jokes. What is your take on Bush?

I am not a politician. I am very happy that Obama is the next President. He has got a lot of support of the world. As entertainers our job is to make fun of people and be tongue-in-cheek. That’s what Jay Leno does. Politics is serious acting.

Chandni Chowk To China and The President Is Coming sound as different as chalk and cheese...

That’s the most fantastic thing to have happened. We started work on Chandni Chowk to China almost three years ago. I met Akshay over two years ago. Making Chandni Chowk was like going to battle; you plan a war and it is fantastic and has its own rewards. The President on the other hand is so hands-on. Director Kunaal Roy Kapoor, the writer, actors and I worked closely together.

Which is more feasible for a producer — a mega-budget film or a small film ?

Given our market, I think small-budget films have great potential vis-a-vis the biggies for recovery. The answer is really simple — “make good films and people will come and watch them”.

Rohan the producer is very active at the moment, but what about Rohan the director?

I am hoping by April next year I should get back to my day job. It’s been too long. I am really looking forward to that. But I have enjoyed myself as a producer too.

Aren’t you making a film with Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor?

I am definitely working with Abhishek. As for Ranbir, I am a big fan of his. I have met him a few times. He is fantastic and really does the Kapoor khandaan proud. He is the generation next, Kapoor family. I would love to work with him in a period film. I am jealous of Nikhil that he is getting to work with Deepika. It would be a dream to get them all together.

But are you making a film with all of them?

When a film is released on a Friday, that’s the only time when you can claim a film has been made. This business is very strange, I can’t say anything.

There was a news report that claimed that Abhishek was giving more importance to Mani Ratnam’s film and in the bargain delaying your film...

If I were Abhishek, I would prioritise Mani Ratnam over me too (laughs). Nowadays, every actor does a film at a time and moves on to the next. It is the only way to work. The system has changed for the better.

RGV’s remake of your father’s film Sholay was a resounding flop. Do you ever plan to remake Sholay with Amitabh junior and Dharmendra junior?

I have had the good fortune of associating with a writer like Shridhar Raghavan. He has so many fun ideas; I feel greedy about doing all of them. I don’t think there is any harm in attempting a remake but one’s take on a film is important because that makes it your film.

A famous screenplay writer William Goldman wrote a very famous book Adventures in The Screen Trade. And his first golden rule was “Nobody knows anything” (laughs).

Mauli Singh

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