When I started out, NFDC, then FFC, gave me Rs 3 lakh and with the cooperation of my cast and crew, I made Sazaye Maut on this impossibly small budget. Khamosh followed, then Parinda in ’89. With Parinda, I got ambitious and cast Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff who were top stars at the time. I couldn’t afford their market price so I told them I’d pay them a bonus if the film clicked.
In this business, no one pays up after a film’s release. I did. And continue to do so. The bonuses are not a part of a profit-sharing deal. The buzz about Aamir Khan being the unofficial producer of 3 Idiots and getting 40 per cent is a laugh. I don’t deal in legalities, for me it’s an emotional issue.
The kind of money Aamir made from 3 Idiots, I doubt if he got for any other film. But I was under no obligation to pay him. We did not have a written agreement. I could have sent him a bouquet of roses and become richer by a few crores. But if I feel someone deserves a little more than what was settled on, I give it. That’s the kind of man I am, the kind of company Vinod Chopra Films is.
I have a team that is ready to work for one-fifth of what they would get from other production houses because we share a common ideology. An, in return, some of them get paid a lakh a month irrespective of whether they are working on a film or not. That takes care of their everyday needs and leaves them free to pursue their creative interests.
There have been reports about Abhijat being paid Rs 2 crore for 3 Idiots, making him the highest paid writer today. Few know that he got Rs 1 crore for Lage Raho Munnabhai before the film released. Two days after his father, who was seriously ill, came out of hospital, I gave him an envelope with a Rs 1 crore cheque. The old man couldn’t believe that his school teacher son had made a crore from writing a film script!
With Chetan Bhagat, we had a Rs 1 lakh contract. We paid him a bonus of Rs 10 lakh before the film opened.