Sajid Khan: For Srideviji, Himmatwala shouldn’t be anything less than a Mughal-E-Azam

The super successful filmmaker talks about his new ‘rewrite’ (mind you, Himmatwala is not a remake!), buddy Ajay Devgn, newbie Tamannaah, Sridevi’s comment sabotaging his film, his war with critics, Himmatwala‘s commercial success and much more….

He does realise that anything he says could create headlines, but that doesn’t stop Sajid Khan from being his usual forthright self. His infamous war of words with various people and his digs at his contemporaries at awards ceremonies, along with his pompous claims about his films becoming superhits even before he starts shooting them have won him more brickbats than accolades. That could be why B-towners have labelled him brash and over-confident. Nevertheless, the fact is that Sajid Khan is one of the most sought after directors in B-town and one of the most commercially successful, with Heyy Babyy and Housefull franchises to his credit. Presenting the inimitable SK at his bratty best….

Himmatwala – a rewrite, not a remake

Himmatwala is one of my top five favourite Bollywood films and I’m very fortunate that my name is associated with the movie. The essence of the original Himmatwala is there in my version, but my treatment is different. The scenes and the characters in my Himmatwala are different from the original 1983 hit. It’s a ‘rewrite’ and not a ‘remake’. I’m sure the makers of the 1983 musical blockbuster will also enjoy my film.

Comparisons between the two Himmatwalas

There will be comparisons and it’s fair enough. Don’t you think people will compare the new Chashme Baddoor with the original? My film’s hero is white and the villain is grey. There are no shades of grey. It’s almost fairy tale-ish. I’ve added some nuances like slightly over-the-top acting, typical filmi scenes between mother and son… which today’s youth wouldn’t have experienced. When I started writing the screenplay, I realised that the scenes I had written were prevalent only in the 80s or beginning 90s. I’ve added my style of comedy, action and drama.

On himmatwala Ajay Devgn and himmatwali Tamannaah

You’ve not seen Ajay like this before. I’m 100 percent confident that Ajay ki entry pe aapke ticket ka aadha paisa vasool ho jayega. You don’t get to see a heroic entry like this in today’s films, except for maybe Salman Khan. If 80 percent people don’t whistle and clap during Ajay’s entry, then I’ll change my name. It will be one of the top three hero entries in Hindi cinema after Amitabh Bachchan’s entry scene in Coolie. Sridevi was a big name down South before she did Himmatwala and became a household name. Likewise, I was looking for someone who’s a big star down South and could create a niche for herself with her debut Bollywood film. Tamannaah has got the spark in her and I’m sure she’ll go places.

On churning out hit after hit

Mark my words – Himmatwala will be a superhit and my next after that will also be a superhit. When I say my films will work at the box office, people feel I’ve lost it, become over-confident and turned egoistic. But when my films work, the same people say I was lucky! I believe in myself and my love for cinema. I make films for the audience and not for myself. And that’s why I’m always confident that my films will work at the box office.

Rs 150 crore target

Himmatwala isn’t a costly film, but I’m sure it’s going to be a profitable venture – that people will know on the day it releases. I hope it crosses Rs 150 crore and becomes Ajay and my biggest hit. If the audience like it, then obviously more footfalls will ensure good collections at the box office.

Himmatwala is not a spoof

I know people (read: critics) will object to certain scenes in Himmatwala, but I still went ahead and did them. You cannot please everyone all the time. Himmatwala will take a huge opening. By now, people know that brand Sajid Khan will not disappoint. I have a very positive approach and attitude towards my films. When people go to watch my films in theatres, they know that they will watch an entertaining film. I’m not stupid and I haven’t lost the plot. I’m very intelligent and I know exactly what’s going to work for the audience. I promise you, the tiger in my film will get as many taalis as Ajay Devgn. He’s the second hero of the film.

Sajid Khan vs the critics

Trust me, I’ve not read a single comment or review of any of my films – not because I’m scared; it’s just that I don’t want you to tell me what you feel about my film unless I ask your opinion. I’m not on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site. If my film is liked by people, the collections will speak. Truth and fact are two different things. In our industry, truth is manipulated most of the time. So it’s very convenient, unlike fact, which will remain as it is. My films fetch good money and at the same time people say that they enjoy watching my films… that’s a fact!

Dearth of good writers

The quality of writing prevalent in the 70s and 80s is certainly missing today. Where are today’s Salim Javed and Kader Khan? I’m blessed that my experience of watching more cinema and my understanding of it has helped me write some good stuff. Most of the dialogues and punchlines in Himmatwala are done by me. I’m not saying I’m a great writer, but I feel there’s lack of good writers.

On Sridevi’s remark – Himmatwala isn’t a Mughal E Azam

For Srideviji, Himmatwala shouldn’t be anything less than a Mughal-E-Azam, because she became a household name and an all-India star with Himmatwala. I feel she has every right to say what she feels about my film, coz that’s her opinion. I didn’t speak with her, though I had a word with Jeetuji (Jeentendra) two days before I started shooting the film. He was glad to know that I’m directing the film and blessed me.

Success hasn’t gone to my head

I don’t get carried away by success, nor will I get affected by failure. Success gives you power to attempt what you want to do rather than taking advice from people. The people you used to take advice from start taking advice from you when you succeed. I don’t have many friends in the industry and I’m not a party person. God forbid, if my films don’t work in the future – that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. I’ve faith in myself.