On the eve of the release of his come-back film Krantiveer – The Revolution, Mehul Kumar tells correspondent that if a producer has a Shahrukh Khan or for that matter Aamir Khan in his project, he will immediately get a cheque for ten crores of rupees and will also be allotted a budget of seventy crores of rupees to complete the film.
Why did you think of a sequel to Krantiveer as Krantiveer – The Revolution, almost a decade after you made Krantiveer?
To think of a remake or a sequel at that point of time was simply unthinkable, because the audience could not digest the idea. I thought of making a sequel to a film like Krantiveer because I felt that it had a hot and contemporary topic and hence it would be ideal, now that sequels have started being made and people have also accepted sequels as well as remakes.
Why did you not think of remaking Krantiveer?
I think there is absolutely no point in setting out to remake a landmark film like Krantiveer, because people will compare it with the original version. Only if you do not make a sequel with a hangover, will people appreciate it. The main difference between Krantiveer and Krantiveer – The Revolution now is that the sequel is youth oriented whereas the earlier one had mature artistes like Nana Patekar and Dimple Kapadia
Did you launch Krantiveer – The Revolution just to launch your daughter Jehan Bloch as the leading lady?
Contrary to the notion that I have produced Krantiveer to launch my daughter Jehan Bloch, let me reiterate that I am not the producer. My daughter Jehan is not there in Krantiveer, just because she is my daughter. Right from the time when she was a tiny tot, she has been involved in each and every film that I have made. In my film Paap Ki Aandhi, she had played the child Dharmendra. Even for Krantiveer, I gave her ten pages of dialogues and asked her to face the camera for an audition with different scenes. When she gave the audition, she did not tell me but I came to know that to prepare herself for the part, she had actually watched Krantiveer on DVD, not just once or twice but twenty times.
Did you advise the producer not to invest 50 to 60 crores in Krantiveer – The Revolution?
Yes. I told the producer that there is no point in investing fifty to sixty crores in Krantiveer – The Revolution, because there is no hope of recovery when you set out to make a film with new comers these days. Instead I suggested that he should make six films with that kind of budget. I told White City Entertainment Private Limited who have produced the film that we should set out to make a film and not a proposal, because I am of the opinion that when you concentrate on the stars when you make a film, you tend to ignore the story which is the backbone of any film. I got total freedom and there was absolutely no creative interference from my producers.
Why did you not cast well known stars in Krantiveer – The Revolution, like you used to do in the past?
I have always cast actors who suit the script and never thought of the star before the script is finalised. I cast Raj Kumar as the Don in Marte Dum Tak. A corporate company which has plunged into filmmaking asked me, some time back, to direct five films for them. They asked me who the actor I had in mind even before I could proceed with the scripts. I asked them whether they wanted to do a proposal or a film and refused to direct for them, because all said and done, though today, if you have a Shahrukh Khan or for that matter Aamir Khan in your project, you will immediately get a cheque for ten crores of rupees and will be allotted a budget of seventy crores of rupees, I still feel that it is finally an industry which is creative and needs a lot of patience on the part of a filmmaker. If people remember Mehul Kumar and Krantiveer even today, the reason is that filmmaking has always been a passion as far as I am concerned and I have always treated it as a creative job. A creative filmmaker like me just cannot be a good businessman, though the fact is that I also run a multiplex called Mehul Cinemax, which is not a part of the chain of multiplexes of Cinemax, in my home town Jamnagar.
In what way do you think filmmaking has changed today?
Today filmmaking is just another business and every actor is money-minded, because today they decide on the price first and then the script is thought of. Most of the senior filmmakers have disappeared from the scenario today, because the entire scenario has changed drastically. Stars who were charging in lakhs now demand in crores and single producers like me have become extinct. It is quiet sad that today as far as the Bombay Circuit is concerned, there is not a single star whose film fetches more than seven to eight crores but the stars still demand several crores, as their remuneration.
What’s your mantra for survival as a filmmaker till date?
The last film which I had directed was Jaago six years ago. Technically a lot of changes have come about in the film industry and filmmaking has in fact become easier today but the tragedy is that the technicians have become laves to the technique, sidelining culture and content. The films are good for the eye but fail to touch your hearts. I have managed to survive because right from Tahir Hussain’s bilingual in Hindi and Gujarati- Phir Janam Lenge Hum with which I had made my debut way back in 1976 till today, I had always given a bound script to each and every artiste of my film, whether it was the late Raj Kumar or Nana Patekar or Dimple Khanna for that matter Sameer Aftab, Aditya Rajput Singh or for that matter my own daughter Jehan Bloch in Krantiveer.
Is it true that Rajinikanth refused to work in your film Tiranga though he liked the subject, because he did not want to work with Raj Kumar?
Yes. Though I was lucky that Raj Kumar agreed to be part of my project , when I narrated my subject to Rajanikanth, though he liked the subject, he did not want to act in Tiranga, because he frankly confessed to me that he did not want to share the screen with a stalwart like Raj Kumar. I then approached Naseeruddin Shah who also refused and ultimately I cast Nana Patekar in Tiranga.
How do you manage to convince both Raj Kumar and Nana Patekar or for that matter Amitabh Bachchan and Nana Patekar to act together in your films?
I always make it a point to narrate the script jointly to two big actors who I cast in my film. I have never narrated the script solo to a star. I remember I narrated the subject of Kohraam to both Amitabh Bachchan and Nana Patekar at Amitji’s bungalow, Jalsa.
How tough was it to direct the late Feroz Khan, who was a director in his own right when you cast him in your film Meet Mere Man Ka?
It was I who got Feroz Khan to act in a film after he had established himself as a producer as well as director. When I cast him in my film, Meet Mere Man Ka. I told Ferozbhai not to let the director in him rise to the occasion when he was just acting under my direction and he sportingly agreed to be clay in my hands.
My next film will be Hateley. It will be a totally youthful film with two girls and three boys. It is about the youth today who want to live their lives the way they want to, in keeping with the changing times today. The film will drive home the message subtly without being preachy, that we should not forget our culture and tradition, because we are known today all over the world only because of our culture and tradition.