Why did you wait for Department’s release to vent your anger and discomfort with Sanjay Dutt and Dharam Oberoi?
It is dangerous to start changing the content and screenplay midway through a film because it is so easy to lose your objectivity. So when they compelled me to do that by using various coercive forces halfway through the film since I was anyway stuck, I had a professional commitment to finish the film and had to wait until now.
Isn’t it a blame game going on after the film crashed?
I am not blaming anyone except myself. The biggest mistake I made was to go to an actor as unprofessional and as unimaginably erratic as Dutt.
There were problems with Sanjay Dutt and co-producer Dharam Oberoi even during the making of the film?
The problems were innumerable, ranging from Dutt’s coming late to last-minute cancellation of shoots and schedules to erratically wanting to change the content of scenes in the name of creative discussions that are not to be confused with mindless interference. Aamir and me had creative differences during Rangeela but I didn’t pay heed to the mistakes he pointed out. Despite Rangeela becoming a blockbuster, when I saw the film much later, I felt I had gotten away with the mistakes that he had pointed out. I genuinely believe Rangeela would have been a bigger hit had I listened to Aamir. The difference being Aamir’s suggestions and observations came from a long and intense deliberation on his part and not like Dutt who was blurting out without thinking, encouraged by the likes of Dharam who pander to him for their personal benefits.
You have said Dutt forced you to drop Kangana from the film and also interfered in the screen play?
Yes. Dharam told me Sanjay wanted Kangana to be dropped and since it’s a predominantly male-dominated action film, I didn’t want to make an issue. I also wish Sanjay Dutt realises what Dharam talks behind his back and for his sake, I hope he distances himself from Oberoi before it is too late.
What difference would Kangana have made to your film?
It’s not about the difference and like I said, that’s the reason I didn’t make an issue. It’s about the way Dutt behaved.
Apparently, Dutt had concerns about the cameras you were using?
Not only him, even Amitji and Rana had but when they saw the quality of the film, they were happy and they spoke about it in the media too. In fact, Amitji spoke about it as the future of cinema even after the release and the reviews. The problem wasn’t about using the cameras but the way they were used in terms rapid panning, some unseen angles and some deliberately jerky moments. However, these were hardly eight to 10 shots in the film. Otherwise, usage of these cameras is prevalent the world over, including in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.
Apparently, Dharam made additional money. Did he take a commission for casting Sanjay Dutt that was over and above his payment?
I wouldn’t like to comment on that but I guess, the concerned people know.
And while you’ve said with respect to Department that you don’t make films for critics, we’d like to ask you whether you don’t make films for the box office either?
Why would any director, be it me or Sriram Raghavan or Ashutosh Gowariker, want to make a film that doesn’t work? Why would I want all my time and effort to be wasted? Whether anyone believes it or not, I work with the same passion on every film. Only, I seem to have more bad films simply because I make more number of films.
On Monday night, you sent a message to Abhishek Bachchan saying, “You brought this disease into my life by recommending Sanjay Dutt”. Comment.
No messages happened between Abhishek and me with regard to this but the truth is that when Abhishek was supposed to do Rana’s role, it was he who convinced me about Dutt against my better judgement. Later on, he couldn’t do the film and I was left with Dutt. So I definitely blame Abhishek for making me go through this though it was unintentional on his part.
While you’ve made landmark films, people say you’ve lost focus. Comment.
Since everyone has a mouth, everyone will have an opinion. The people who work with me know how focused I am and so I would advise people who are not concerned with me to rather focus on themselves instead of focusing on my focus.