Has people’s attitude towards you changed since you bagged the National Award for Kanchivaram?
It has. So many critics have called to congratulate me. They wondered how I could switch genres with such ease. (Chuckles) I enjoy saying that it’s easy. Earlier, people thought that I was only good for comedies. But the National Award that came after 25 years has finally proved that I can make a serious film too.
Does this mean that you will now switch from mad capers to more meaningful movies?
No, I will continue to make comedies like De Dana Dan. And let me tell you that it is far more difficult to make a good laugh riot than it is to make a film like Kanchivaram or even win the National Award.
But buzz is that you are in talks with Aamir Khan for a film on AIDS that Percept will be producing?
Yeah, I’m supposed to give the script to Aamir. It’s a movie aimed at spreading social awareness but with a light touch. Unless, I make it entertaining, no one is going to watch it. It won’t be a slapstick comedy like De Dana Dan or Hera Pheri but will have generous doses of real life humour. And I’ll make it even if Aamir doesn’t do it.
And what’s happened to Bum Bum Bole?
It’ll be out during Christmas.
But is there a market for a kiddy flick and shouldn’t it have come closer to Tare Zameen Par to cash in on the Darsheel Safary craze?
It’s made on a shoestring budget so I don’t think it’ll be difficult to recover the investment made in this film.
You’re currently shooting an untitled film with Ajay Devgan and Akshaye Khanna that was reportedly inspired by the caste killings in Alinagar. So despite saying that comedies will continue to be your USP, have you turned serious?
Sometimes, you read a news item that needs a larger voice. You have a social commitment as a director too. But my forte remains comedy. From next month I’ll start shooting Khatta Meetha with Akshay (Kumar).
Even though you’ve been saying that De Dana Dan is not Hera Pheri 3 that’s the impression the paying public has, given that it features the trio of Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar and Suneil Shetty. Won’t that work against the movie?
I think it would be an advantage. Everyone knows that I was not responsible for Hera Pheri 2 so it’s okay.
Your grouse was that Kuselan didn’t work because the spotlight had been on Rajnikanth. But though you turned it away from Shah Rukh Khan in Billu and kept the focus on Irrfan Khan, your film didn’t work either.
I didn’t have any grouse against Kuselan. And personally, I’m so busy juggling seven-eight films at a time that I have no time for post-mortems. And somewhere down the line I’ve realised that if the critics like a film, it doesn’t work and vice versa. (Laughs) I hope they hate De Dana Dan.
Working simultaneously on half-a-dozen projects must leave you with little time for the family?
I take them with me everywhere. And I manage to make time for everything I want to do.
Apparently, Akshay Kumar, Mohanlal and you are in talks with Lalit Modi and planning to buy an IPL team?
It’s too early to talk about that now. Let the bids happen. If we’re able to swing it, fine. If not, we’ll forget about it.
Kerala, of course.
Mohanlal is a good friend, why aren’t you planning a Hindi movie with him?
He’s told me he’s not interested in Hindi films but we are doing a semi-serious Malayalam movie together.
Do you know that Ravi Chopra was taken to court for lifting My Cousin Vinny as Banda Ye Bindaas Hai and had to pay damages amounting to Rs 1 crore? You’ve been accused of plagiarism too in the past.
I’ve never been accused of blatant copying. Yes, sometimes you do get inspired, nothing wrong with that. There are after all only seven plots in the world. For that matter even Hollywood has found its muse in some Bollywood movies. Everyone’s doing it. Take any of the recent Hindi movies, and you’ll be able to connect them with another movie. As long as it’s not a frame-to-frame remake…
You trashed Slumdog Millionaire…
(Cuts in) I stand by what I said despite the Oscars it won. It was a mediocre film, a conspiracy against India.