|Sajid Khan with John Abraham, Shreyas Talpade and Akshay Kumar on the sets of Housefull 2
Sajid Khan has come a long way from being a television host. Five years after his debut as director with Heyy Babyy, Sajid is back with his third film, sure that it will be a superhit. “I want to make Housefull a franchise. This is a special film for me. I will start working on Housefull 3 soon,” says Sajid. Hours before he jetted off to Singapore for the premiere of Housefull 2, Sajid told t2 about directing the “dirty dozen”, and also Jacqueline Fernandez.
All your actors insist that shooting with you is “like being on a holiday”.
I am glad someone had a holiday because I didn’t (laughs). This has been my hardest film till date. Working with so many actors at the same time is not a joke. Fortunately I had Akshay Kumar, who is known to be very punctual, spearheading the cast. But I have to say that getting the actresses out of their vanity vans on time was tough (laughs).
You have had a very successful partnership with Sajid Nadiadwala. What keeps your relationship going?
He is my best friend. He is like an elder brother. We are like family and I know he’ll give his life for me and I will give my life for him. When it comes to working together, we don’t look at each other as producer and director. He trusts me a lot. He goes with my vision. I fight with him a lot that ‘why are you giving such a huge budget and spending so much, I will save money’. But he says ‘spend’.
Critics don’t really love your films. Does that upset you?
I make films from the audience’s point of view. I don’t make films to get five stars from critics. The audience is the ultimate critic. A true critic is someone who loves movies and understands it. Hindi movies will never be liked by the critics, trust me. Just like mainstream Hollywood films will not be liked by the critics. Like Housefull, Ready was panned by all critics and both were blockbusters. My biggest high is watching the film in a housefull theatre. That, for me, is as good as a five star rating or any award.
Most filmmakers stay away from releasing their film during the IPL but Housefull 2 is releasing on the first Friday of IPL 5!
We were initially supposed to release on June 1, but I decided that we should move ahead to April 6. I believe that this is the fifth year of IPL and I don’t think people are going to be watching every single match. I’m sure that people would want to come out of their houses to watch movies as well. Also, remember, Vashu Bhagnani released Biwi No 1 in the middle of World Cup 1999 and it was a huge hit. If a movie is good, it will do well, if it is not good, no matter how well you promote it, or whichever date you choose, it will flop.
Finally, are you dating Jacqueline Fernandez?
My personal life is not for public consumption. I’m answerable only to my family and close friends. Let people speculate. About three years ago, people were talking about Riteish (Deshmukh) and me being a couple. So, clearly now I am batting for the other team. Even then, I didn’t say anything. Why should I add fuel to such rumours by commenting on them?
Jacqueline Fernandez scored big with the item song Dhanno from Housefull. And she is hoping that its sequel does “wonders” for her career. “I was in Calcutta with Sujoy (Ghosh) when I got the call from Sajid Nadiadwala offering me Housefull 2. I couldn’t believe that they wanted me as the lead, on a par with Asin, to pair opposite John Abraham,” she squeals during a phone conversation with t2.
The rumour is that you were promised Housefull 2 when you shot the item song for Housefull. True?
Yes, it is. Sajid Khan had told me that he would cast me in Housefull 2. I didn’t pay much attention to it because people tend to make promises all the time in Bollywood. So, imagine my shock when Sajid Nadiadwala called me about Housefull 2. They had played so many pranks on me during Housefull that I thought his call was an extension of that (laughs).
What made you sign on the dotted line?
I couldn’t have asked for a better movie at this point in my career. After Murder 2, I got a lot of offers but they seemed to be in the same kind of space. It’s very easy to get slotted in one category and many actors find it tough to break out of it. I was very conscious that I had to get out of the Murder 2 “slot” so I was very grateful that Housefull 2 was offered to me. I think it will do wonders for my career.
Considering there are 11 other characters in the story, weren’t you worried about having little to do?
Not really. I had full faith in Sajid that he would do justice to all the characters. One of the reasons why you have not heard a single story about fights within the cast is because Sajid has been very upfront with everyone about what they are doing in the film. And, everyone has been treated equally. When I am offered a film, I take into consideration the whole package and what it would do for my career.
There has been a lot of gossip about you. Let’s start with all the films that you have refused, like Raaz 3...
As I had mentioned, I was very sure that I wanted to get out of the mould that Murder 2 had put me into. So, when I realised that the script was headed in a similar direction, I told Mahesh Bhatt that I wasn’t comfortable with it.
Mahesh Bhatt was clearly very upset with you.
He is a lovely person. He was like a father figure when I was shooting Murder 2. Those who know him know that if he doesn’t like something, he will be vocal about it. I still have the highest regard for him.
Why did you refuse Krissh 3?
I didn’t refuse it. I had signed Krissh 3 but there were date problems. It was very unfortunate that I couldn’t do that film.
Does the link-up with Sajid Khan and the buzz of your impending marriage upset you?
I am still trying to figure out how to deal with these rumours. It’s been a difficult time for me because I couldn’t even share what I was feeling with my friends or family. One day I was supposed to be meeting Sajid’s family and on the next they wrote that we had broken up because he didn’t want me to be an actress! (Laughs) It’s all very crazy. For the record, I don’t believe in sharing my personal life with the world at large.