New Czar of comedy?

New-Age Filmmaker

 (From left to right) Ajay Devgan,  Sanjay Dutt and Rohit Shetty.The affable Rohit seems a tad shy and almost embarrassed when we mention that he is now considered the new Czar of comedy after Priyadarshan and Anees Bazmee.

Excerpts from an interview:

Why have only your comedies worked? Your action debut ‘Zameen’ and the mixed genre ‘Sunday’ did not do well.

Honestly, I don’t know! There was everything going for Zameen — the music, for example. I guess it was inadequate marketing along with wrong timing of release, it came during Shradh and Abhishek Bachchan had just had two flops. But of course, that’s just a way of looking at it! (Smiles) Even today, people who happen to watch Zameen on some channel call up, tell me that they were hitherto unaware of it, and that they liked it.
Having said that, I must say that though All The Best is a comedy, it’s more of a clean, family entertainer. I have skipped other elements like double entendre jokes that were a part of the Golmaal series.

‘Golmaal Returns’ was a huge opener last year. Why did ‘All The Best’ not open as well?

I can again surmise — we released Golmaal Returns on Wednesday, a day after Laxmi Poojan. This time all the films came before Laxmi Poojan, so that business really picked up after the Diwali weekend. But we are doing much better in the second week, and are way ahead of Blue, which opened better than my film.

Can we expect a Diwali release from you every year?

I’d love to be able to do that!

When will we see a Rohit Shetty film that does not star Ajay Devgan?

(Laughs) Oh maybe quite soon. Ajay and I are planning a film that needs a younger hero.

What else is coming from Rohit Shetty?

I am working on another comedy, and also the next Golmaal film.

There’s a clear-cut polarity between people who preferred one ‘Golmaal’ over the other.

The first Golmaal was closer to me. It was more challenging to make a film that had a lot of the movement inside a house, much like a stage presentation. Every scene had a kind of choreography to it. Golmaal Returns was like a cakewalk, it was a hassle-free, dream journey right from conception to release.

Will the action-studded songs that costs several crores be a Rohit Shetty hallmark now after ‘Golmaal Returns’ and ‘All The Best’?

Why do we include songs? Either to move the story forward or to entertain, right? And to me, this was a fresh way to entertain. I was actually inspired by a song I watched in Shankar’s Tamil film Sivaji and I wondered why we were scared and shy of doing something similar. So I conceived and choreographed those songs in Golmaal Returns and All The Best as well as all the spectacular action. Of course Jai Singh, my action director was there to execute my concepts. And a mad director also needs a good producer to spend those crores needed! (Laughs)

Or is it a call of the chromosomes, since your father was the legendary stunt coordinator Shetty?

Well, maybe it is. I was in the second standard when my father passed away. Like every child for whom the parent is a role-model, I wanted to be in films and become an action director. I was 16 when I first began to assist Veeru (Devgan)-ji in Phool Aur Kaante, Ajay’s debut film. But then I moved to directing films.

Finally, coming to comedies, how serious are you about humour?

For me, comedy is very serious business. I have a whacky sense of humour, but for me, it’s never been about making a comedy that will make the audience enjoy the movie. I believe that only if I am enjoying my work, and my actors, technicians and post-production team are enjoying working on the film will the audiences too react in the same way.

Today’s filmmakers seem to distance themselves from their audiences. There is just one film every year or two that connects with a pan-Indian audience.

I think cinema for me is about being entertaining. For preaching, we have so many other channels open, including on television. I have no issues with critics doing their jobs. After all, you cannot expect them to be PROs for your films! But I cannot understand how certain high-society people get themselves photographed hugging stray dogs for publicity but look down on the rickshawala, chai-wala or the middle-class and consider themselves superior. If I am making a 40-crore film, I cannot overlook my audience.

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