His debut film as an actor, Sir, raised high expectations from him, as he stood confidently in front of veterans like Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal and Pooja Bhatt. Atul Agnihotri was touted as yet another chocolate hero of the film industry but destiny had some other plans for him.
Atul who started his career as a child actor in Pasand Apni Apni was soon lost in the whirlwind of flops and found himself following his passion of filmmaking. After making his directorial debut with Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha, Atul Agnihotri is now ready with Hello, his next venture as a producer-director. The actor-turned-director says Hello to Parmita Uniyal in a telephonic interview.
Why did you choose to make a film on Chetan Bhagat's novel One Night @ The Call center?
I simply loved the book. Moreover, I wanted a writer who is from our own soil and understands the cinematic requirements. It is a story that has never been told before on screen. With six-seven stories being told in one film, it's going to be a great visual experience.
Hello deals with a bizarre subject - Call center employees getting call from God. Your previous directorial venture Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha also dealt with a supernatural concept. Do you consciously choose such subjects?
Yes, that's true. I love subjects that have elements of mystique in them. The spiritual side of life attracts me.
What was the basis of selection of the actors in your film?
It took 55,000 emails, and opinion polls on various communities like orkut to choose suitable characters for the film. Since most of the readers of the book are on Internet, they voted for the actors they thought would be suitable for the film. That's how the names of Sharman, Amu, Isha came out.
Film Hello is governed by character and script and not by heroes and heroines. It talks about the character's past and present and everything. The script even has the minute details of hair, cloth and personality attributes of a character.
Would you like to remake a classic film someday?
No. The concept of remaking a film doesn't fascinate me. The concept of the film should be original and unique. I have found a great writing partner in Chetan Bhagat and I would definitely work with him in future too.
So, when can we expect your next project?
It's still in nascent stage. It takes a lot of time to work on every aspect of the film. If Hello turns out well, then I can work on other things.
Talking about your acting career, people had huge expectations from you after the success of your debut movie Sir. What happened after that?
I didn't get the kind of roles I wanted and most of the projects that I acted in backfired. At that time, actors were not paid enough. I got 25,000 for my first film and then 50,000 for the next. I guess, my true calling was direction and that's what gives me immense satisfaction. When I started off in the industry, I was an assistant director. Production and direction had to happen.
Do you believe in destiny?
Yes I do. I think life leads you and you just have to travel.
With Hello releasing next month, are you nervous about its outcome?
Not, at all. In fact I am very confident. The film is now complete. I am happy and so are the investors and everybody associated with the film.
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