Within weeks of joining Sahara India Parivar’s board of directors to revive its broadcasting and movie production business, Boney Kapoor has sent a legal notice to a leading publishing house for alleging that financial difficulties pushed him into taking up the corporate job.
“That’s absolute rubbish, I’m appalled that despite being easily accessible to the press, the paper didn’t feel it necessary to cross-check with me before publishing this malicious piece of fiction,” rages the producer, claiming damages worth Rs 50 crore towards loss of reputation and goodwill. He is particularly aggrieved because the “derogatory” article suggests that his wife Sridevi’s clothes and cosmetics, annual five-star holidays abroad, a fleet of four cars and frequent dinners cost him Rs 25 lakh per month. And he’s finding it difficult to maintain the extravagant lifestyle.
“I may have been in financial difficulties, but I’m not a pauper. I’ve been around for three decades and I’ve made 32 films, among them blockbusters like No Entry (2005) and Wanted (2008). I can look after myself and my own,” he retorts. “Forget a house, I’ve been running an office and taking good care of the staff.” He points out that Raj Kapoor went through a red patch after Mera Naam Joker (1972) and Amitabh Bachchan’s monetary problems were well known. “They didn’t depend on others to feed them, nor do I,” he snaps.
“I’m not a puppet in anyone’s hands. Sahara Shree (Subrata Roy) approached me with the offer and I took it up as a challenge.” Kapoor has replaced Roy’s son Seemanto. He, however, points out that he will be “working closely with the family to turnaround the business activities of the channel”. Sahara One’s flagship channel, Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd, is lagging behind in the Hindi general entertainment segment.
Movie channel Filmy is below Max, Zee Cinema, Star Gold and UTV Movies. Firangi, positioned as the ‘world television in Hindi’, is not even visible. And among its last five productions, four — Kaccha Limboo, 8X10 Tasveer (2009), EMI (2008) and De Taali (2008) — have been box-office debacles, the only hit being Wanted, co-produced with Kapoor.
In 2008, Kapoor had sold off the rights to Wanted, with upcoming films like Milenge Milenge to Sahara. Earlier, in 2005, he sold off his entire movie library to the channel. “Sahara Shree has put a lot of faith in me and I’m hoping to live up to his confidence,” he asserts. His present assignment will not be a roadblock to Kapoor’s production plans. “No Entry Mein Entry should start rolling by October and Wanted 2 will start subsequently, with the Mr India sequel scheduled for next year,” he beams.
Reportedly, Salman Khan’s been paid an unprecedented R10 crore for the No Entry sequel? “I don’t want to get into figures, all I can say is that Salman is getting what he deserves,” says Kapoor shortly. Back in town from the US, Boney’s wife Sridevi is gearing up to make a comeback in a film co-produced by R Balki and directed by his wife, Gauri Shinde, about a woman who doesn’t know English. She’s married to a mobile yuppie and the story is about how she confronts the problems she faces. Says Kapoor, “It goes on the floors on July 7.”