He has seen the boom and the bang.. the mega-busters (Dil and Beta) and the flop-shows (Rishtey and Pyare Mohan).
Naturally, he’s skilfully versed with the wicked ways of showbiz. "The moment your film flops, you are out of the limelight," he drawls.
Right now, he has just wrapped up the shooting of his latest project, Dhamaal. Unusually blunt, Indra Kumar faces a blizzard of queries with self-deprecatory wit. <b1>
Dhamaal has no heroine. Didn’t the distributors pressurise to have one?
(Ha ha) Till date, no distributor has done his demanding number on me. Maybe I’m one of the lucky few. To answer your question though, there are girls in the songs.. but none in the film.
Is it true that Sanjay Dutt’s court case made you go slow on?
Sanjay has been enormously helpful. He stood by the unit even in the face of adversity of such magnitude. He was under tremendous pressure, but he behaved calmly.. he went about doing his work.. and despite the attention around him, he managed to get his act right.
Any plans to cast your one-time muse, Madhuri Dixit?
Madhuri and I were planning a project some years ago. If things had worked out, I’d have directed her comeback film.
Can Madhuri recreate the same magic?
Why not? She’s making a comeback at the right time. Today, like in Hollywood, the Indian film industry has begun accepting 40-plus heroes and heroines. It isn’t a surprise that someone like Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) continues to deliver hits.<b2>
Isn’t it true that after a flop film, no actor wants to collaborate with you? Like Aamir Khan and Anil Kapoor haven’t worked with you after Mann and Rishtey bombed.
Both Aamir and Anil respect me.. and vice versa. We may have not worked together since, but why project it as if we are having a holy war? Anil and I have been trying to get together for a long time.. but haven’t found the right script.
Recently, I met a man who said he loved Mann. "I have seen all your films..Mann is without doubt your best movie," he told me.
But you did have a tiff with Aamir after Mann didn’t you?
Our relationship is not strained. But yes, it’s equally true that I’ve always had to give hits to stay alive in this business. Don’t forget, I had to give a hit like Masti after Rishtey to get back in the reckoning.
When was the last time you spoke to Aamir?
(Thinks hard) It must have been three months ago. Aamir has turned director now. So, he’s all the more occupied.
How come you haven’t worked with the other Khans?
I’ve tried working with Salman and Shah Rukh. But nothing materialised.
Why haven’t your recent films matched the success of the initial ones?
Dil, Beta, Raja and Ishq were blockbusters. Masti was a phenomenal success. My track record has been reasonably good.
Why did you take a fancy to comedies after Ishq?
After Ishq, I realised that there is an audience for comedies. I was going through a transition and I thought I should change with the times. There’s nothing wrong with making a comedy, I presume. Nothing, really. But critics flogged terming it lousy.. even vulgar. Yes, it was ripped apart. So was Pyare Mohan. Yet, Masti proved to be a trendsetter of its time. <b3>
Like other directors, I’ve had my share of successful and mediocre films. But thank god, none of my movies are intolerably bad!
You were once a wannabe Gujarati actor. Whatever happened to your acting aspirations?
(Laughs) Wahan meri daal kuch gali nahin. I acted in over a dozen Gujarati films as a comedian. Maybe no one laughed.. or maybe they did.. I don’t know. At 27, I left the Gujarati industry forever.
But your brother, Feroze Irani continues to be associated with Gujarati cinema.
That’s right. He’s like the Amjad Khan of Gujarati moviedom. My other brothers are also in the film business. Ratan is a director, Adi an actor and Balraj a production manager. (Laughs) We are Paanch Pandavs.. five-man industry.