Hrithik & Ash bigger than John

Dhoom maker SANJAY GADHVI tells Pratim D. Gupta why Dhoom 2 will live up to the huge hype

When you made Dhoom in 2004, no one was expecting anything. But Dhoom 2 is the most awaited movie in a long time. Did you feel the pressure?

The pressure was definitely there. You see, Dhoom worked for many reasons. The action, the music, John Abraham, less in length (it was all of two hours) — there were various factors. And there was no expectation from the film. But while making Dhoom 2, I must confess, I was constantly aware of the pressure.

Today, Dhoom is a household name. I also believe there are as many points of view in the world as there are people in the world. And they all have the story ready in their heads. It’s going to be like this; it’s going to be like that. So there are many kinds of expectations. Some will be disappointed, some will be happy. There’s very little in my hands. I have just followed the brief from my producer.

And what was that all-important brief?

See, Adi (Aditya Chopra) told me that after watching the film people should say: “This is not what I expected, but I like it.” So, we have chosen a story which is good independently. Dhoom 2 can stand on its own. It is a complete film by itself. Since it is a sequel of Dhoom, the only difference for me has been that I didn’t need the 15-20 extra minutes to establish the characters of Jai (Abhishek Bachchan) and Ali (Uday Chopra). I was working with two branded characters and so I could save screen time.

Is this huge hype around the film helping or harming Dhoom 2?

A movie doesn’t flop because it is hyped too much. It has something to do with the content and the pacing and the script. Ever since marketing and publicity became important, it is a good thing for a film to have a buzz around it… Krrish had that much hype but it did very well. Lage Raho Munnabhai had a lot of hype and it did well. Then again Dhoom had no hype and yet it did well.

Maybe too much of hype is not good but it is beyond our control. After Dhoom released, reverse horns, brake horns, ringtones all sounded like the film’s theme. Bike sales went up by 20 per cent, they said. John was everywhere.

No film had ever had such a huge impact like Dhoom. So the hype around Dhoom 2 was inevitable. And it will grow bigger and bigger as November 24 comes closer. I can get scared, I can bask in the glory or I can take it in my stride. I have chosen the latter because with Adi as your producer, you know how to keep your feet on the ground.

You had made Dhoom for the young, but almost everyone liked it. What is your target audience for D2?

For Dhoom, the target audience was 16 to 25. But we got the 4 to 16 age group as a bonus. We also got the 25 to 45 age group as another bonus. And a lot of children liked the first film. So, we had decided at the very outset not to make them angry. We have made Dhoom 2 more child-friendly and put in things that they love to watch.

Did you miss John Abraham while making Dhoom 2?

No. See, Dhoom 2 was never planned. Dhoom was a one-film story and the bad guy, played by John, dies in the end. It was after a month of the film’s release that we decided the film could carry on. And like the Lethal Weapon or the Bond films, we could not have the same bad guy. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, even Jaws… the opposition changes. And so there had to be new opposition to Jai and Ali.

Today they are fighting in Africa or Brazil. Tomorrow they may go and fight in space, in Afghanistan, in China… The writers and directors have to come up with new bad guys for them every time. So, about John not being around, I didn’t feel bad or good. I just moved on. Anyway, Hrithik and Ash are bigger and more popular than John.

Just for the record, there is no John in a single frame in D2…

Absolutely not. And please quote me on that.

Was it difficult to handle huge stars like Hrithik, Ash, Abhishek, Bipasha and Uday together on the sets?

No, no, I am a big taskmaster on the sets. I just go about my business and without sounding cocky or arrogant I can safely say that I am stricter than many directors. So, while I would shout at them, later we all would have fun and play games. Besides being stars, this younger breed of actors today is very professional. And there was the added advantage of working for Yash Raj Films. There was always an extra edge of discipline. As long as you are conscious that you are the director, you are the boss and you are the man who knows the whole film, there is no problem.

I had already worked with Abhishek, Uday and Bipasha (Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai) and before. With Hrithik and Ash, I worked very hard the first day and earned their respect. The biggest crime for a director is to be in awe of his actors. I just go on autopilot on the sets (laughs).

Do you feel stuck in the Dhoom franchise?

I am not making another Dhoom after this. In fact, a Dhoom 3 hasn’t yet been planned. Like any producer would do, Adi is not thinking too far ahead and wants to see the response to Dhoom 2 before planning another film. And had I been the producer I would have had different directors for every two Dhoom films. How differently can I shoot a chat between Abhishek and Uday? As for me, like the game of soccer, I want to change directions… I would rather make a family drama next.

You are making your next film for Shree Ashtavinayak Cinevision…

I have signed the papers but there is no script in place. I thought it would be ethically wrong to plan another film with Dhoom 2 not yet ready. So, after this film releases, I will plan that. I may even make an action film but not a punch-oriented action film like Dhoom. Maybe I will make a Sholay! And then after a couple of years, if Adi wants me to make another Dhoom I am okay with it.

So what will you say to someone walking in to watch D2 on November 24?

Look for full entertainment. That has been the motto for me as the Dhoom maker. It should be paisa vasool for everyone. This is no pathbreaking cinema, no great epic, there are no endless twists and turns, just straightforward storytelling with lots of masala. Just enjoy.

I can’t control what people think about the film. Some may like Esha (Deol) more than Ash. Some may like Hrithik more than John. Let everyone say what they want. I just hope that Yash Raj gets its money back (laughs).

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