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Calling the shots

A-list actors are driving helmers crazy with their unavoidable inputs, casting advice, editing diktats and publicity positioning, reports Vajir Singh.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2008 01:42 PM IST

If it’s Aamir Khan, it’s interference. From award-winning editors to the most genial spotboy, all claim that he is a control freak. Which, on a positive note, may be construed as a quest for perfectionism.

After Amol Gupte, the original director of Taare Zameen Par, threw in the towel, news is that all is not exactly hunky dory in the case of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, the debut film of his nephew Imran Khan. Talk abounds that there have been ‘creative differences’ between Mr Perfectionist and the film’s writer-director Abbas Tyrewala.

Now the question is: Is Khan the only Mr Know-all around? The answer would be NO.. because almost every star in Bollywood today wants to be in the director’s shoes. Besides the absurd amount of crores that are being charged by the stars, practically all the ones in the A-list are behaving like quasi-directors.

Maybe they are just following the tracks laid by some yesteryear greats.. Dilip Kumar has admitted to ghost directing many films, including the classic Ganga Jumna, but his inputs were not always welcome. The industry grapevine then buzzed about the legendary movie moghul’s A R Kardar’s ill-health and untimely death being caused by Dilip Kumar’s interference during the making of Dil Diya Dard Liya.

Others like Raaj Kumar and Rajesh Khanna gave their directors a hard time when their wishes (better lines, co-stars’ scenes chopped..) were ignored. Projects were often abandoned because the producer went bankrupt trying to keep their films afloat.

If Aamir Khan’s interference is an open secret, Sanjay Dutt’s recent penchant for calling the shots is largely unknown to those outside the film industry. Dutt, once known as the director’s actor, today often decides on camera angles and the right take. If the unitwallas of Kidnap are to be believed, Dutt was the ‘creative’ leader and director Sanjay Gadhvi the perfect follower.

Know all
Salman Khan has also become infamous for his temper tantrums and his I-know-more-than-anyone-else attitude. During the shooting of Tere Naam he was so unhappy with the way the film was shaping up that he even slapped director Satish Kaushik. Being a writer’s son and a writer himself, Salman believes he’s always on the right track. Incidentally, he started his career as an assistant director to Sashilal Nair during Falak and Parivaar.. so the desire to call the shots is not surprising.

All’s well

Shiney Ahuja has come in for criticism by some directors (off-the-record, of course). Recently, Kunal Shivdasani (


), went on record, at pains to clarify rumours that Ahuja was not interfering at all.. and that he’s a friend. Hrithik Roshan has learnt the tricks of his trade with his own production banner.

Ashutosh Gowariker reportedly had to get the video monitor removed after the first few days’ of the


shoot. Hrithik, narcissisitically, insists on checking out every take and suggesting (?) which one should be used.

Approach Nana Patekar for a film and instead of asking for a story narration, he humbly asks the director why he thought of casting him? So far so good. The director is touched with Nana’s courtesy but the story on the sets is unbelievable. Patekar is always ready with suggestions on how to ‘enhance the project.’ The director has to grin, bear it and also execute it.

Like father, like son

Amitabh Bachchan, the thorough professional, of late, is also reported to have discreetly pulled strings in the scriptwriting, on the sets and in the editing room (the first signs of this was the

Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan

controversy, when Govinda had alleged foul play in the final edit). Following in his footsteps is Bachchan Jr. Abhishek has been giving more than an actor’s inputs to his friend Goldie Behl’s



Cut cut
When it comes to editing there’s no one like Akshay Kumar whose penchant for chopping off a co-actor’s role has become the stuff of jokes at award shows. And also an in-joke line of dialogue in Namastey London.

The actor is known to get involved with a film from the scripting stages right up to the promotion. Talk among filmwallas is that if his inputs are not taken seriously, he sulks in his vanity van until his wish is fulfilled. Vis-a-vis Anil Kapoor. It is believed that he has his own set of writers whose job it is to scan the scripts offered to him.

Right ya wrong
After tasting success, like Shahid Kapur did recently with Jab We Met, he also has become savvy enough to tell the directors what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s maybe. The problem is that the status of directors is being eroded. It won’t be surprising if some day, it is said that the actor is the captain of the ship. In fact, most Bollywood savants have started saying that already.

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