New Delhi: Anand Kumar's debut film 'Delhi Heights' had won him critical accolades despite lacking success at the box office. His next film 'Jugaad' was also appreciated for its fast paced storyline and good performances. Now, the director is returning with multi starrer 'Zilla Ghaziabad'. IBN Live talks to him while he was busy shooting the costliest song of the Hindi film industry at a whooping budget of Rs 2.5 crore with 400 dancers.
Q: How much of 'Zilla Ghaziabad' has already been completed and when are you planning to release it?
A: More than 70% of the film is completed and we are planning to release it in February next year. Earlier, we had thought of hitting the screens in January but now the date is shifted to February. Marathon shooting of 75 days has helped us in remaining true to the plan.
Q: 'Delhi Heights' with Jimmy Shergill and Neha Dhupia was your first film. What were you doing before 'Delhi Heights'?
A: Actually, I am born and brought up in Delhi only. I studied at DTA School before moving to Hyderabad to pursue a course in Mass Communication.
Q: Did not you think of going to any high profile film school?
A: See, in my opinion, the only thing which matters is your experience and your hard labour. If you are very specific in your goals then always go for practical education. Film schools might help but the ultimate teacher is your experience.
Q: How did 'Delhi Heights' happen?
A: I was writing a lot in my college days, thus many chapters of the film were written before 2001 only. After compiling those chapters, I was more or less ready with a story. When Sivaji Productions agreed to produce the film, we were all set to come up with a film.
Q: 'Delhi Heights' had some melodious songs.
A: Actually I give a lot of importance to songs. I think songs can change one's perception towards the film. So, we chose Rabbi Shergill as the music composer as he was very familiar with the Delhi scenario and you saw the results. He had also not done any film before that and thus he was also very enthusiastic about it.
Q: 'Delhi Heights' was one of those initial films which had Delhi as one of the characters.
A: Today Delhi is visible in several films, in fact more and more films have stories based in Delhi but 'Delhi Heights' had started that trend in one way. Probably, no film before 'Delhi Heights' had captured that essence of Delhi. Today 'Band Baajaa Baaraat' and some other films have established the distinguished style of Delhi.
Q: 'Jugaad' was also based in Delhi.
A: Yes. I feel familiar to stories based in and around Delhi and thus when the idea of 'Jugaad' struck my mind, I thought of making it into a film.
Q: 'Jugaad' was not a bad film; still it did not do well at the box office.
A: I think the delay in promotions and wrong release timing caused harm to 'Jugaad'. The film had some good songs, which were unfortunately not well promoted on TV. Secondly, the decision of releasing it side by side of 'Billu' harmed it a lot. The fierce promotion of 'Billu' made it difficult for 'Jugaad'. I decided after 'Jugaad' that I will not make more films in the realistic zone. Now, I am making a big 'masala' film.
Q: Is it true that 'Zilla Ghaziabad' was previously named as 'Bulandshahr Cops'?
A: Actually, Sanjay Dutt is playing the character of a police cop Thakur Pritam Singh in 'Zilla Ghaziabad' who is from Bulandshahr, so, people might have got confused about the name.
Q: How the idea of making 'Zilla Ghaziabad' came to your mind?
A: Actually that's a very interesting story. I was sitting at a friend's place when suddenly I saw a board at the railway station. The sun light was falling on it at a peculiar angle. The railway station was abuzz with activities in the background and that yellow board had 'Zilla Ghaziabad' written on it. I decided right then that it's going to be the name of my next film. I got the title registered some two years ago but I came up with a story only after meeting one of my friends who belongs to a political party. He told me the story of Satbir Gurjar and Mahender Fauji, which we turned into a commercial story.
Q: What 'Zilla Ghaziabad' is all about?
A: I narrated the idea to Vinay Sharma and together we came up with 'Zilla Ghaziabad'. Actually, the original story had taken place in early 90's but we have made it contemporary by infusing some gadgets and new plot points. We thought from all the angles about whether the characters will write letters or they will use mobile phone and many more issues. The actor Arbaaz Khan helped a lot in the process. There was a big gang war between two rival groups of Satbir Gurjar and Mahender fauji, which finished only when a police cop Pritam Singh arrived at the scenario.
Q: What is Vivek Oberoi's role in the film?
A: He is playing the character of Satbir Gurjar in the film who was living a peaceful life after completing a course in law, but other characters did not let him live in peace. Finally, he chooses the path of violence. Remember the type of role Jackie Shroff had done in 'Gardish'. He turns into a gangster after the injustice and tortures he faces. Actually when an intelligent and educated person turns into a criminal, he becomes more lethal. That's the idea behind Vivek's character in 'Zilla Ghaziabad'.
Q: Did you feel difficulty in handling a big star cast?
A: Yes the film definitely has a big star cast but it did not create any problem in the shooting. The film has Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Vivek Oberoi, Ashutosh Rana, Minissha Lamba, Charmee and many other established actors but they were very helpful in the shooting. In fact, such a big star cast helped us in selling the film before the finish of the shooting.
Q: Lately Ashutosh Rana has not done many films.
A: Ashutosh Rana is going to be seen as the president of bar council in the film.
Q: I have heard that several police officers called you to enquire about the film.
A: That is true. A lot of police people called me during the shoot claiming that they had shot Mahender Fauji and some other characters in the film but I have not shown them.
Q: What did you say in reply?
A: I just said that dear sir, it's a fiction and it does not need to be absolutely true as per the real situation. You might have shot them but I am making a pure commercial film based on those times. "Ab unko kaise bataun ki Satbir Gurjar thode hi na ghumta tha Minissha Lamba ke saath" (How do I explain them that Satbir Gurjar did not roam around with Minissha Lamba in the original story)
Q: What is the USP of 'Zilla Ghaziabad'?
A: This is real cinema, "Jo zindagi me hota hai" (Which happens in our lives). I have picked things and incidents from a simple story and turned them into a film. This is not anyone's biography. It's purely a commercial film. The biggest USP of the film is its dialogues that purely belong to western Uttar Pradesh. You will find a lot of low angle shots and hard core local dialogues. "Ye apne type ki picture hai jisme characters ko dekh ke log bolenge ki ye banda toh bas faad dega" (This is the type of a film where people will say this fellow is going to tear the screen apart).