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‘I wanted to cast myself in Rakhi Sawant's role'

Director Rahul Rawail rarely faces the tape-recorder. For once, he gets talking in his Juhu office to Nilufer Qureshi.
Hindustan Times | By Nilufer Qureshi, Mumbai
UPDATED ON AUG 18, 2007 02:11 PM IST

What inspired you to make Buddha Mar Gaya?
I've wanted to make it for the last three years. There was a point when cinema halls wouldn't run such a film. Thanks to the multiplex boom, the scenario has changed.

Also (the production banner) Eros was excited to back my film which is only 94 minutes long. It's a black comedy but at times, I do worry - I hope I'm not the only one who finds it funny. It's all about a completely dysfunctional family.

Don't you think prominent stars would have helped to pull in the crowds?
It would have been ridiculous to bank on star value. I haven't included romance and songs because both those elements would have spoilt the flavour of the comedy.

Anupam Kher is fantastic as a corpse. It's not easy to maintain one expression for three-four minutes. Plus, I was working on the kind of budget which couldn't afford hefty star fees.

Apparently many actresses turned down the role that ultimately Rakhi Sawant agreed to?
Yes after reading the script, many actresses said, " But I'm not doing anything in the film." What were they thinking of ? Only Divya Dutta wanted to do it. But I was apprehensive because the role's completely against her good-girl image.

In fact, when Paresh Rawal heard the script, he said, "I wish I was a girl, I would have done this role." Believe me it is the most fascinating role I've ever written.

So Rakhi Sawant is your heroine.
Sorry to disappoint but there is no heroine. They are all characters. Rakhi is playing a dumb starlet. Her simplicity and honesty appealed to me on the Bigg Boss show. She also has a sexy image.

Every incident and character is true. Every time I've narrated the script, there's been the response, " But this is so and so." There isn't a single sane character.

You didn't think of casting yourself?
I cast myself in Jo Bole So Nilhaal out of compulsion.. there was no one else who could do it. And I'm still very embarrassed about it. (Laughs) I wanted to cast myself in the role that Rakhi Sawant has played. But my assistants felt that my sexuality would have overpowered the character, so I stepped out.

Apparently Rakhi Sawant plays a struggling starlet who succumbs to the casting couch. So it does exist.
With some filmmakers, it does.. with others it doesn't. Most of the times, the casting couch does not lead to getting roles. In fact, it ensures that the filmmaker will not get the girl any work. Lots of girls bitch out directors only because they don't get any work.

Have you ever been at the receiving end of such gossip?
Lots of time. (Laughs) And that's terrific for my ego. I'm waiting for a girl to come and tell me she is pregnant with my child. At this age and with my size, I would be the happiest man in the world to hear such a fabrication. Jokes apart, whenever I hear such talk, I ignore it.

There is no point in clarifying rubbish. Girls have quoted me names of certain directors. I can bet on my life, they could have never propositioned the girls.

I also have boys coming and telling me names of directors who have hit on them. I'm more inclined to believe the boys because of the names they come up with.

Sunny Deol, Amrita Singh, Kajol, Aishwarya Rai, John Abraham, Paresh Rawal are some of the names you launched. Are they still in touch with you?
Most of them are. Sunny, Dingy (Amrita), Paresh and you forgot.. Annu Kapoor.. are very respectful and maintain contact. Kajol is family. Aishwarya is very warm when she meets me. So what if she didn't invite me to her wedding? John has not kept in touch. Maybe he feels bad that the film I made with him wasn't released.. or maybe he's much too busy.

Do you still make actors cry on the sets?
Girls tend to cry because that is their only weapon. I scream only when the actor is not concentrating. I don't mind retakes but I do mind when he or she is not focused. I am not the tyrant I am made out to be.

How come Dingy, Kajol and Aishwarya never had a problem with me? The ones who did weren't on the sets mentally. For the record, Shilpi Sharma (Jo Bole So Nihaal) has the honour of being the only one to make me cry on the sets.

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