The kind of childlike enthusiasm that Rajkumar Santoshi shows in his conversations, it is tough to believe that he is the man behind intense films like Ghayal, Ghatak, Damini, Khakee, Pukar and Lajja. However, it isn't tough to believe that he could have made Andaz Apna Apna as well as Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani. Now he steps into the same zone with Phata Poster Nikhla Hero.
You return into direction four years after Ajab Prem.... What excited you about picking Phata Poster... as your next?
Well, other than the fact that it is an action comedy, there is also a very strong emotional angle to it. Not many people know that the film also has a very prominent mother-son angle to it with Padmini Kolhapure and Shahid Kapoor. Since it added a new dimension to the comical flavour of the film, I picked it up. I know that if emotional content is good, comedy also stands out.
Can you please elaborate more on the mother-son angle?
Here, both mean the whole world to each other, dono ek doosre ki duniya hai. This mother wants her son to be an honest policeman and there is a reason behind that. On the other hand, the son out there is star struck; he wants to become an actor. This is what forms the backdrop of the film.
And what really is the kind of treatment that has been meted out for the film?
It is a complete entertainer for sure which will satisfy all segments of audience. The film also scores high due to songs and dances.
Were you always sure though that Shahid Kapoor would be able to pull it off the kind of comedy you wanted in the film?
I can say that with confidence. It would be a pleasant surprise for the audience. That was the case with Ghayal when people had seen Sunny Deol doing action but not the kind that was seen in the film. Again, it was all accentuated due to the emotional appeal of the subject. Same is the case here as well in Phata Poster.... Shahid has a natural flair for comedy and you would see that. People haven't seen him in an action comedy. He has been outstanding in the film.
In the last couple of years, at least half a dozen leading men have played a cop. In fact your own Khakee had a number of cops. So how is Shahid treated differently?
That's right, when I had made Khakee, it was the first time after years that Amitji had shaved off his beard. In fact he even removed his goatee so that he could look real and into the character. He was willing to do that since he was convinced about the part that he was playing. Then there was Akshay too who was a grey character to begin with. Tusshar was an honest sincere young boy who adapted to the system. So now in Phata Poster Nikhla Hero, you will see some interesting shades of being a cop coming into play in a comic way. None of these can be taken in a serious mode as was the case in Khakee. Like it happens in a Peter Sellers movie, there may be a villain but then everything on screen runs in a comic way.
In personal life though you are going through some serious times. After all, in the middle of this all you are also going through a battle with Firoz Nadiadwala. Isn't that impacting Phata Poster... promotion since you are finding yourself amidst legal matters?
See, this is life and such kind of things do happen. There are all kind of emotions that are coming into play for me today. Phata Poster Nikhla Hero ka apna muqaddar hai. Jo abhi ho raha hai mere saath, all of that is a part of life and we have to pay the price of being a celebrity.
Any regrets though?
Yes, I do regret that because there was a time when Firoz and I were good friends. When we had started working on Power (which is the bone of contention today), it was with good intentions and trust in each other. Now today when there are these allegations and counter allegations, it is all because we couldn't complete the film. Agar kar li hoti toh shaayad hamaari waah-waah ho jaati.
You must be expecting that with your next film with Anil Kapoor which is based on partition, right?
(Smiles) This story on partition is so relevant even today because political parties are trying to create rivalry between Hindus and Muslims. We end up blaming Pakistan for everything but then not all Pakistanis are bad. Yes, perhaps some of Pakistani policies could be wrong but then leadership could be wrong in either of the two countries. Mazhab ya mulk bura nahi hota, aadmi bura hota hai.