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'Karan Johar the biggest director of our country'

Tarun Mansukhani, who debuts as director with Dostana, in conversation with Vajir Singh.

entertainment Updated: Nov 13, 2008 16:37 IST
Vajir Singh
Vajir Singh
Hindustan Times

Tarun Mansukhani, who debuts as director with Dostana, in conversation with Vajir Singh.

For the first time Karan Johar is producing a film without his lucky letter ‘K’.

I’m glad that it’s happening with my debut film. Anyway, I’ve never believed that Karan’s films were hits only because of the letter K. He’s the biggest director of our country.. irrespective of K or no K.
Video: Abhishek-John, the new red hot jodi

How did Dostana happen?
Dostana started when Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna ended. I was wondering what to do next. Karan felt I was ready to direct a film, so he asked me to write a script. He said if he liked it, he would produce it. Eight months later, I was ready with the script for Dostana and he liked it.

But Karan Johar’s name must have made it easy getting an all-star-cast?
Definitely. Although I’m a newcomer, I was given the best actors and technicians, no questions asked.

How on earth did you think up a script with the gay element being its centrepoint?
(Laughs) I wanted to attempt a film about friends. We have dealt with every aspect of friendship so far in our movies, except sexuality. So, I was like — why not sexuality?

Initially, I was bit apprehensive.. then I went ahead, putting this factor as a comic track, but not making fun of anyone or anything.

How did Karan Johar, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham react to the script?
Everyone was like — oh, hmm, oh, cool. No one said — oh gay, no no, not happening. Abhishek I’ve known for quite a while. I’d given him a hint of the story during the shoot of Kabhi Alvida.. He was like, sounds like fun.. let’s freak out. He asked me who’s the other guy, so I said I’m thinking of John. He said, dude you’ve no idea how funny this pairing and film will be.

The next day, after I narrated the script to John, he asked, “You want Abhishek and me to play a gay couple?” And he burst out laughing. He said that Abhishek and he are two of the most heterosexual looking men around. Both of them playing gays would be just too funny.

Did you tell John that you would be exposing his butt?
(Laughs) Well, I knew that in this particular scene, John would be coming out of the water. In Miami it just so happened that I asked John to pull his shorts up and he tugged them down instead. I asked him to pull them down further.. which he did.

Are you aware that John’s butt is more in the news than Priyanka Chopra in the golden bikini?
(Laughs) Well, my film belongs to that genre, so I’ve no problem with it.

Despite the belief that no one is loyal in filmdom, you’ve been totally loyal to Dharma Productions.
Dharma Productions is my home.. in fact I’m the spoilt brat of the family.

Nikhil Advani who walked out of Dharma Productions, is considered to be one of your best friends. Didn’t he ever offer you a film?
Not at all. He’s a fine filmmaker, someone who taught me a lot about direction. When I joined Dharma Productions, I was hardly 21. Nikhil was my senior. I was the student, he was my teacher.

A couple of years ago, you were supposed to direct a film for PNC.
At one point I thought I was ready to take up direction independently. PNC had a script and they asked me to work on it and see if I wanted to direct it.

I didn’t even know that anyone was aware of my existence. So, I excitedly worked on the script but realised that I wasn’t really ready to take up direction then.

You played a small part in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Are you in Dostana too?
I was asked to arrange spectators for the song Koi mil gaya. I got fewer people than we needed and had to pay the price for that.

Even today, people ask, “Weren’t you in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai?” It brings a smile on my face. I was in Kabhi Alvida.. too. In Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, I was cut out at the editing table!

First Published: Nov 03, 2008 12:14 IST