He has the perfect track record at the box office with back-to-back successful films, starting with Munna Bhai M.B.B.S (2003) followed by Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), after which he helmed 3 Idiots (2009). Last year, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani directed yet another blockbuster, PK. Although Hirani’s films have been huge commercial successes, he is known for the quality of his ventures too. Here, he talks about the need to strike a balance between commercial elements and artistic values, and more.
On making hit films
It’s not that a creatively satisfying film can’t become a commercial success . They aren’t two separate things. If you make an entertaining and interesting film, it will become successful. It’s only in our heads, that we have created this notion about needing certain set elements in order to make a commercial film. At one point, it was believed that you had to include action scenes, and songs had to be shot overseas to set the cash registers ringing.
On connecting with your audience
So many films release every week with the same elements, but they don’t work. I can’t think like that. You have to have an engaging story. Once you have established a connect with your audience, they will go and watch your film. And I attempt to achieve just that.
On following his heart
I don’t think I am doing anything to strike a balance or anything. I am doing whatever is coming from my heart. If you look at my films, you are looking at the finished products, but if I had shown you these films on paper, all of them would appear commercially unviable. I still remember, during Munna Bhai M.B.B.S (2003), I was told, ‘Your half film is inside a hospital ward. How can it work?’ Then, when I was working on Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), people asked me, ‘How are you fiddling with Mahatma Gandhi? Are you making a documentary?’ Even in PK (2014), I spoke about God and religion. But people find a connect with these subjects.
On the only business he knows
The only job I know is to make films. I can’t do any other business in life. Whatever I do, I will be connected to it. I want to produce some films for people who have worked with me and I know that they are talented. So there are some smaller stories I have in mind. I will produce them. But it will all always be connected to films.