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‘Both Salman and Ajay mutually agreed to forgo a part of their remuneration’

Vipul Shah on all the nightmares that dogged London Dreams, reports Hiren Kotwani.

entertainment Updated: Oct 28, 2009 15:31 IST
Hiren Kotwani

Vipul Shah on all the nightmares that dogged London Dreams, reports Hiren Kotwani.

You foraying into new territory with London Dreams, are you a rocker then?
I’m not into hard rock but I don’t mind the soft kind. London Dreams though is not about rock music. It’s essentially pop and Punajbi fusion. I guess, you got the impression because my film is also a musical, following in the footfalls of Rock On!!

How much has the story, reportedly inspired by the Hollywood hit, Amadeus, changed as the baton passed from Rajkumar Santoshi to you?
I’ve retained the basic premise -– two friends and their common connection with music. Before taking over, I spoke to Rajji who told me to make the movie the way I wanted to. I also discussed the script with Shridhar Raghavan. He had written 15 drafts for Rajji and didn’t want to work on it further.

So, along with my team of writers, I got down to to scripting London Dreams in Australia, while Anees Bazmee was directing Singh Is Kinng for me.

Buzz is that Katrina Kaif recommended your name to Salman Khan as director.
Katrina had suggested that London Dreams was my kind of film and I take over the project. But she didn’t recommend my name to Salman.

I had met him before Aankhen. Back then, I wanted to make Action Replay with him and he had approved of the subject. But I was just starting off at the time and the budget was too big to play around with. So I put the movie on hold for later.

Since then, I’ve met Salman off and on. And when the time was right, we teamed up for London Dreams.

The global slowdown hit you when you were halfway into the film. It must have been tough getting your two leading actors to forego a quarter of their fee after Studio 18 opted out.

The slowdown affected everybody across the board. I discussed the situation with Salman and Ajay (Devgan).
The choice was between downscaling the budget and compromising on quality or to taking a pay cut and making the film the way we had visualised it. Salman and Ajay mutually decided to forego a considerable part of their remuneration.
Your favourite actor, Akshay Kumar, doesn’t feature in London Dreams but has been signed up for Action Replay. That has reportedly upset Salman Khan who was the first choice for the movie.

I did discuss London Dreams with Akshay and pointed out that it would seem repetitive after Namaste London since the Punjabi background, the music and even the setting, London, is the same. So we mutually decided to wait and do something altogether different. That’s how Action Replay happened.

Salman is not the kind of guy to get upset because I’ve cast Akshay in Action Replay just because I had discussed the film with him earlier. He’s not petty.

Apparently, your rapport with Amitabh Bachchan helped you to get Aishwarya on board for Action Replay.
I have known Aishwarya for a while now even though we haven’t made any movies together earlier. She is perfectly suited for the character in Action Replay. To suggest that Amitji influenced her decision is a bit far-fetched.

Yes, I do share a good rapport with Amitji, he’s worked in my first two movies and I’d love to work with him again. I’ll talk to him only when I have something substantial to offer.

Katrina Kaif’s skirt offended a certain community during Namastey London. Akshay Kumar’s turban stirred up a controversy during Singh Is Kinng. And now you are being questioned for using the Hanuman Chalisa in London Dreams.

Some anonymous caller threatened to make an issue over the Hanuma Chalisa even after the Appellate Tribunal has cleared it.
As a filmmaker you have come to be relied upon to deliver a hit. You choose to keep a low profile.

I’ve never really cared about my presentation in the media. So far, I’ve focused on establishing myself and then setting my proudction company. I’m not good with PR. I’m still learning how to market myself.