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'Munna Bhai is feel-good film'

Director Rajkumar Hirani says he never wanted the film to be a comedy. Diganta Guha shares more details.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 15:33 IST

"Nobody can predict the future of a film. I can say that when I see the film with my family and friends I would be proud of it. The rest you can never predict. Last time, I never thought it would be a huge success," says Rajkumar Hirani on Lage Raho Munna Bhai, which released on September 1. Diganta Guha caught up with the director.

Boman Irani calls you the Frank Capra of Indian films…
I primarily love human-interest stories. I love a good world around me. I have always loved the Hrishikesh Mukherjee type of films. The characters have to work. You have to have characters that are lovable. If they are not, why would anybody watch the film?

How did the idea of making Lage Raho Munna Bhai emanate?
It wasn’t supposed to be a sequel at all. I was working on a different script altogether. It was another character. Munnabhai wasn’t there. I had Aamir (Khan) in mind for that role. It was a serious film, we were making a serious comment on the system. It started becoming a very grim film. The protagonist was a very serious person. I started thinking that if Munnabhai were the protagonist…it would become a much lighter film.

A still from Munna Bhai. Vidya Balan playa a radio jockey in the film.

Munnabhai MBBS

set a new trend in comedy. What about the humour aspect in

Lage Raho…?


It’s the same thing this time. There is a huge message in the film like there was last time - probably a bigger message in

Lage Raho….

But no character comes out upfront and says that. It’s all treated in a very light hearted manner. Nobody is trying to preach. Last time also, I didn’t want to call it a comedy film. It was a feel good film…. So is

Lage Raho….

I am not being preachy.

What about pressure?
There was pressure when I was writing the film. I was worried whether it would match the standard of the last film. While we were shooting there was pressure on the actors who felt the characters had become very popular. Everything was being equated with the last film.

Has this film been made on a larger scale than last time?
Yes. Last time we had very limited budget. But this time it’s not lavish in that sense. There is no extravaganza because this kind of film does not require it. It is very realistic in nature and how lavish can you make a dhobi ghat? You can’t put it in Switzerland.

Your comments on the Gandhian angle?
I believe that Gandhian ways can work today and we are trying to say that in a light-hearted manner.

What about Circuit and Munna?
There is no change. They wear the same clothes, live at the same place and are still the same people. It’s just that the world changes for them. There is a romantic angle — Munna is in love with a voice on the radio. Last time the romantic angle had become incidental. This time the film begins with it and moves on to other things. Lage Raho… doesn’t stay an out-and-out romantic film.

How was it working with Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi? What is special about the equation that they share?
They were more focused. For Sanjay, Munnabhai MBBS was just another film. He didn’t expect the adulation and affection that he got. When he was in Kolkata for Parineeta, everybody was referring to him as Munnabhai. He said, “People have forgotten our names, they used to call me Baba and now nobody calls me Baba. When I die people would probably say Munnabhai dead.”

That made him much more responsible. He would work harder — his sister says he came home and acted out the scenes. He enjoyed the process of making the film, which is rather rare for a person who has worked for 25 years. Arshad (Warsi) was also very focused.

Has Raju Hirani matured through Lage Raho…?
In terms of the content and intention of the film, yes, it is a much more mature Raju Hirani this time.

What next?
I am working on a script that is set in a college. It’s a funny film with a little comment on the education system. Maybe one more Munnabhai after that.