Unlike his filmmaker-father David Dhawan, director Rohit Dhawan doesn’t make rib-tickling comedies. And unlike his younger brother, Varun Dhawan, he is a private person. “I’m on the quieter side,” admits Rohit, as he opens up about his career and life as a Dhawan.
Were you expecting Dishoom to be lapped up by the audience?
I can’t talk about the numbers, but I was expecting 100% positive feedback. Movies like these are not made too often in India. It is a western genre. The film has a fresh narrative with regard to the screenplay and how the events unfold. Our intention was to make a fresh masala film. And I strongly believe that we have achieved that. We are used to watching those regular, over-the-top Hindi masala films. But in Dishoom, you can believe every character.
You’ve made your second film after a five-year gap (he made his directorial debut with Desi Boyz in 2011). Will you take as long to make your third one too?
There is no fixed plan. I’m not the most ambitious person. When I’m making a film, I’m ambitious about getting it right; I want the movie to reach the maximum number of people. But I take my own time. I’m a bit lazy. I like watching movies and reading. I have a bunch of boys that I hang out with. My wife tends to complain a lot about that. I have dreams, but I’m not someone who chases them immediately.
Your father used to make back-to-back hits…
We are poles apart. He is a rare and gifted film-maker.
Have you been influenced by his style of film-making?
Yes, of course. His solid grip on the entertainment aspect of a film has influenced me a lot. He says, “There should never be a dull moment in the movie theatre.” He comes from a different school of thought. He believes that whatever a film-maker creates has to be entertaining. He told me, “Public ko bore mat karo (Don’t bore the audience)”, because you are asking someone to invest their time and hard-earned money in your film. I have learnt a lot by listening to him during our dinner table conversations.
Do you remember watching your father’s films?
Yes, and it was so strange watching his films at that time. I remember, for all the movies he has done with Govinda, he used to get calls at 7 am (when the first show of a film would start), and by 9am, they were declared hits. Today, I have realised that making a hit film is so hard. His films came from a very honest and pure place.
Were you never tempted to make the kind of films your father made?
No, because I have too much respect for the films he has made with Govinda sir and Salman (Khan) bhai. I have been brought up between Bandra, Juhu and Andheri, and then I went to New York, USA, to study. I feel limited because of my protected upbringing. Dad, however, didn’t have all this. He was a free bird. He’s more desi. Living a protected life isn’t the best thing for a film-maker. I want to make a hardcore Indian film. But to do that, I think I need to go away and travel a bit.
Were you ever nervous about the comparisons with your father?
That’s something you can’t avoid, especially when you are born in a film family. I’ve always maintained that you don’t choose movies, movies choose you, when you are born in a film family. The same was the case with me and Varun. You can’t avoid those comparisons when you have a famous father who has had such a successful career. They were more for me because I am also a director.
You never wished to become an actor?
No, never. I acted in a few short films in school, but I never had an inclination towards it. I realised that it’s a completely different ball game. In acting, you have to cross all the lines of shamelessness. At least, as a director, you can live the secret life you’ve always wanted, through your actors.
Do you have friends in the industry?
Yes, I have close friends like Ranbir (Kapoor) and Arjun (Kapoor). Ranbir is a childhood friend, so he’s like a brother. I also have friends I hang out or grab a beer with. I don’t go out too often, so we just hang out at each other’s houses. Who wants to see a director? I don’t talk much, and keep to myself. I’m slightly on the quieter side.
Were you always interested in film-making?
From as early on as I can remember, I used to hang out on film sets and most of my summer holidays were spent in places such as Switzerland, where a lot of film songs (father’s songs) used to be shot. I gave film-making my 100%, and I am passionate about it.
They say after marriage everything changes…
Things are exactly the same for me. I think if you marry the right person, everything remains the same (laughs).