The success of Satyameva Jayate has erased my image as a sleazy writer of sex comedies- MILAP MILAP ZAVERI
By Jyothi Venkatesh Congrats. Your latest release Satyameva Jayate is your first super hit as a writer-director!
It’s not just my first every super duper hit but also the first super hit of John Abraham. Not only that, Satyameva Jayate is also all set to cross the 100 cr league shortly.
Satyameva Jayate is actually your third attempt at direction!
Yes. Before I directed Satyameva Jayate, I had directed two films- They were Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai with Riteish Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandez and Amitabh Bachchan and Mastizaade starring Tusshar Kapoor, Sunny Leone and Vir Das. Unfortunately for me both the films tanked at the box office. I also had directed a short film called Raakh with Vir Das, Shaad Randhawa and Richcha Chaddha
Why do you think Mastizaade which was a mass film flop?
That is because there was an overdose of sex comedies in that period including Great Grand Masti, Kya Kool Hai Hum etc and also there was an inordinate delay in the censoring of the film, which led to the waning of interest for the film.
Were you skeptical whether your film would stand up to Gold as its opposition on Independence Day?
We were always clear that our target audience for Satyameva Jayate was the masses of India. Despite Gold being there, we were confident as we knew we have made a film for the common man of India and the subject of the film was corruption which is much relevant today. We didn’t target the multiplex or the family audience. The high point of our film is that I have woven a lot of emotions in our narrative. The film was for the masses who have come out in historic numbers to make the film a super hit.
What is the reason for the success of Satyameva Jayate?
The main reason is that it catered to the masses unabashedly. We had no pretence about it. The scenario is today reminiscent of the Sunny Deol and Amitabh Bachchan films made in the 90’s. Though I have been a fan of Amitji and Sunny Deol, today with the advent of the multiplexes, producers quite often forget to keep the interest of the masses alive, though there are exceptions to the rule, like Baaghi 2 earlier and my own film Satyameva Jayate.
How did you zero in on John Abraham in your film?
John Abraham was the first and only actor who I had narrated the subject after Monisha Advani who is Nikkhil Advani’s sister and co-producer in Emmay Entertainment agreed to produce the film with Bhushan Kumar. John has taken that quantum leap with Parmanu and Satyameva Jayate. I was not sure if John would nod since my last film Mastizaade had not worked at the box office. I had worked previously with John and Manoj sir as a dialogue writer in Shootout at Wadala.
Who suggested to you to contact John Abraham for the role?
Rohit Dhawan, David sir’s director son, and Varun Dhawan’s brother told me that John is someone who doesn’t care about your past and is someone who sees merit in the script, irrespective of the baggage of the director. I would attribute the entire credit to Rohit Dhawan because he convinced me to message John, who luckily for me, responded immediately and agreed to come on board, after he listened to David Dhawan and watched my short film Raakh. I would love to direct John Abraham ion every film that I set out to direct in future, because he is such a director’s actor who does not at all interfere with the director though he is a big star on his own right.
How did you sound Manoj Bajpayee for the role of the upright cop?
Nikkhil spoke to Manoj sir for the narration and when he heard the script from me, Manoj sir said, ‘I am happy you are going to make a bromance which reminds me of films like Deewar and Ganga Jamuna
Did it hurt you that people didn’t take you seriously after you churned out two flops as a director?
I was not disillusioned at that time but very hurt and felt bad but I realized that each one will only set out to look after his or her own interest. I am sure even I would have done the same thing and not liked to hop on the bandwagon of someone who did not taste success. Luckily there are people like Nikhil Advani, Monica Advani, David Dhawan and Rohit all supported me.
In what way is your stint as a writer-director different from that of being just a writer?
I had always yearned to take up direction and had in fact directed the short film Raakh, which was appreciated a lot and won me a lot of accolades and in turn instilled a lot of confidence in me as a director. It was a thriller. I should say that success which had eluded me when I was just a writer has come to me now that I have directed my third film. I enjoyed the process as a writer-director, because I was in complete control of the ship and also direction is out and out my own baby
How was Nikhil Advani as a producer on the sets?
The best thing about Nikhil Sir is that not even once did he interfere with me as a director on the sets. On the contrary, he even choreographed part of a song for me. I would give him the entire credit for letting me make my film the way I had visualized it without any interference. Nikhil Sir’s production house has never ever made a hard core commercial film like Satyameva Jayate before.
Do you think your image as a sleazy writer which Mastizaade fetched you has been wiped away by the success of Satyameva Jayate?
Though I have written comedy films as well as sleazy films like Mastizaade, I have also written films like Kaante, Shootout at Wadala etc. My short film Raakh was a dark thriller but no one was ready to take a calculated risk and give me a chance. But now the success of Satyameva Jayate and the reviews by the critics who matter have erased my earlier image as a sleazy writer of hardcore sex comedies.
Which are your personal favorites among your films till date?
Satyameva Jayate, Kaante, Shootout At Lokhandwala, Ek Villain and my short film Raakh.
What do you thibnk when you look back at your career?
In my career of around 20 years, I am happy I have written good, bad and average films. Umesh Mehra’s Yeh Mohabbat Hai was my first film as a writer whereas Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante was my first successful film.
Is there a sequel for Satyameva Jayate?
I think it is far too early for me to talk about our plans to take the franchise forward. Please wait and watch.
What next, as a director after Satyameva Jayate?
After Satyameva Jayate, I am excited to direct my next project also with Nikkhil’s company, Emmay Entertainment, and Bhushanji’s T Series.
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