Suneel Darshan is sitting on a fortune estimated at Rs 100 crore plus. In a career spanning 23 years, he has produced 10 films and chosen not to sell the satellite rights of any of them.
“None of my films have been officially seen on TV anywhere in the world,” he confirms. “I don’t know if that is creditable but I have always believed that cinema belongs to the theatres. But with 11,000 theatres dwindling down to 6,500, I may have to take a call on this soon. Today, even the biggest banners and stars have embraced TV. I guess I haven’t been savvy enough, I still watch films in theatres.”
Darshan’s last film, Shakalaka Boom Boom (2007), a desi version of Amadeus, didn’t work commercially. He attributes its failure to the fact that the subject and genre doesn’t appeal to Indian audiences. “Even London Dreams (2009) on the same subject flopped,” he points out.
After its release, he took a “voluntary pause” because he had been working non-stop for 20 years. But he’s hoping to flag off his next project by the year-end. It will launch his son Shiv who has undergone extensive training at the New York Film Academy.
“I launched many newcomers, including Miss Universe Lara Dutta and Miss World Priyanka Chopra in Andaaz opposite Akshay Kumar. Akshay staged a comeback after 15 flops with Jaanwar (1999), consolidated his position with Ek Rishtaa (2001) and never looked back after Andaaz (2003). Now it is Shiv’s turn,” beams the proud dad.
Today, when only the Khans — Aamir, Shah Rukh, Saif and Salman—can guarantee some sort of an opening, is this the right time to launch a new face, may be two? “It’s not stars, not even the Khans, but the package in totality that works. Salman’s last Diwali release, Main Aur Mrs Khanna, wasn’t a big draw but this year’s Eid release, Dabangg, is red hot,” Darshan argues. “That’s why I’ve been concentrating on the script that’s in the final stages. The idea is to design a film that will get maximum visibility.”