Rakesh Roshan is a filmmaker who is as cool as a cucumber. In his cool office in the suburbs, the maker with the Midas touch who is not media savvy at all opens up frankly to JYOTHI VENKATESH, who has known him right from the time that he had made his debut with Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani and had celebrated his signing of the film in the lead over chilled beer, way back in 1971.
Your last film as a director was Krrish 3 and your last film as a producer was Kaabil. Why are you lying low?
I am not lying low but constantly reshaping and rewriting the drafts for Krrish 4. I have kept aside two drafts and am working on the third. I work till I am satisfied and sure of what I am going to make, whether I am producing a film or directing it. I am not at all in a mad rush and there is no compulsion to make a film and prove myself. My thoughts are always open as I am never in a mad rush and there is no pressure of any sort at all. Each idea is different. You get a good idea but sometimes you realize that only of the story line is correct, and the rest of the film fits in and you do not go ahead with the making of a film.
How do you manage to reinvent yourself as a filmmaker?
I watch a lot of films not only in Hindi but also in different languages keep on learning from them. I saw Toilet Ek Prem Katha and was zapped and even though I did not at all know the director Shree Narayan Singh, I tried to get his number and rang him up to congratulate him and even predicted to him that it would turn out to be a successful film. Till date, I have not at all stopped learning because I do not at all feel that I am the best. I concede that most of my colleagues are making brilliant films and I want to compete with all of them in a healthy manner.
In what way has cinema changed over the years with the advent of digitalization?
Negatives may have given way to digital prints but let me tell you that filmmaking continues to be the same and you still set out to make a film only if the screenplay is perfect and the actors also suit the roles.
Do you think that the content is being given more importance than the form now?
Content alone always runs. Yes. There are times when content can fail because after all it is an artistic job and you just cannot be right all the times. One works out of the way to make a good film.
Why do you call your son Hrithik Roshan a double barrel for you?
Fortunately Hrithik became a star right from his first film Kaho Naa Pyar Hai. He was the first hero in Indian cinema to be launched with a double role in his very first film. I make movies for and around Hrithik and he is a double barrel for me. I want to make movies which challenge me as well as Hrithik Roshan as a maker. Even today, my hands and feet turn cold and I turn nervous on the first three or four days of my shooting on the sets.
Hrithik was your assistant before he took up acting. Do you think he will shape up to be a good director eventually?
Hrithik was assisting me on the sets of three of my films- Koyla, Karan Arjun and Khel. Hrithik is not only a good actor but is also a good editor too. If he chooses to direct films, he would prove to be very good. I first learnt editing and only then took to direction.
How would you describe Hrithik Roshan as a person?
Hrithik is basically a very intense and emotional actor who fits into his characters very well. Hrithik is a quiet and straight forward and honest guy. The best thing about him is that he goes on improving with every film of his. I think he is the only actor today who has in a span of just 16 years proved himself with different roles in films like Dhoom, Koyi Mil Gaya, Jodha Akbar, Krrish 3, Guzarish, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Kaho Naa Pyar Hai in a double role in his debut film and Kaabil. Hrithik does not at all shy away from attempting to take up roles which do not suit his image.
Can you cite an example?
In his forthcoming film Super 30 directed by Vikas Bahl, he plays a Bihari mathematician and believe it or not, just to prepare himself for the part, he started working on mastering Bihari language for six months and is even texting his friends in Bihari and speaks with a Bihari accent. He is also a family person who likes to spend the maximum time with his kids.
How strict are you as a director on the sets? Are you open for suggestions from your actors and other unit members?
I listen to not only my actors but also the spot boys on my sets, if they have any suggestion; I give an ear to all who come to me with their own suggestions. If I feel that they are not right or they are not able to convince me, I explain to them if their suggestions are not acceptable and if they are right, I accept them without any ego as a filmmaker.
In what way do you think your job as a producer on your sets different from your task as a director?
I know exactly what is required of me as a producer. I know that producing is a different job completely. A producer has to be a jack of all trades and not only be a financier, but direction is an absolutely different ball game. Not many actors become directors. It was only direction which gave me a new lease of screen life. Direction is a 24/7 job unlike acting. As a director, I think of my film even when I am not on the sets. I don’t keep a vanity van, because I do not have the time to go and sit in it. Today the film industry has opened up in big way because of the social media and when you go to a studio there is absolutely no room at all because there are many vanity vans and along with the vanity vans there are a lot of ego and problems.
To what extent do you interfere with your directors on the sets?
Do you know that I go to the sets only on the day of mahurat of my film to sound the clapper board if it is directed by another person before the shooting of my film begins? I discuss with my director before the shooting of my film starts but once the film goes on the floors, I do not interfere with my directors.
How much importance do you give to casting as a producer and director?
Casting an actor who justifies the role is very important. Casting can make or mar a film. I would say that good casting is half the battle won after the right script.
You have till date acted in around 80 to 85 films. Which are your five best films as an actor, according to you?
Kaam Chor, Khel Khel Mein, Dhanwaan, Khoobsoorat, Aap Ke Deewane, Aakhir Kyon etc are my best films till date as an actor. I should confess that as an actor, my career was over when Kaam Chor was released and I did not get any good offer even though it was a hit at the box office. So the actor Rakesh Roshan made the producer Rakesh Roshan and the producer Rakesh Roshan made the director Rakesh Roshan when I decided to change my gears as a director with Khudgarz after which I did not look back
You are the son of the illustrious music director Roshan Nagrath. Like Hrithik, do you also sing?
Music is a God gifted thing or else every musician in the world today, whether he is a guitarist, a table player or a bongo player would have become a music director. Not everyone can make a tune. As the son of a great music director like Roshan, I have a good ear for music, but cannot sing at all, though my brother Rajesh Roshan is a good music director. My mum also used to sing. Like Hrithik, Raju also sings.
Why has music has changed over the years?
It isn’t music which has changed over the years. It is the generation as well as the situations that have changed. Today the beat and the groove are more important than the lyrics unlike in the years of yore and that is the reason that the songs today are short lived especially since there is no depth in them. If the screenplay of my film does not need any song, I will make a film which has no song.
Did you always want to be an actor?
My dad expired when I was 16 and in Wadia College. He knew I wanted to be a director. In 1967 I joined as an assistant, first to H S Rawail when he was making Sunghursh and then Mohan Kumar, when he was making Anjaana and Aap Aaye Bahaar Aaye. As an assistant, you don’t have to learn. You have to absorb. It helps you later on subconsciously. No one can teach you anything in the industry. It is your observation and your experience which count a lot.
How did you get your break as an actor?
When I was an assistant to Mohan Kumar, Rajendra Kumar asked me on the sets of Anjaana what I wanted to become eventually in films. I said I wanted to be an actor. He asked B. Nagi Reddy who was making Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani with Prakash Rao as the director to cast me in his film. Man Mandir followed. The break was easy but the going was tough.
In what way does your ability as an actor help you as a director when you direct others?
The fact that I was an actor helps me as a director because I can easily explain a scene to my actors, though I want my actors to interpret me and not follow me. I can explain why a take is not good to my actors. When actors become directors it is good for other actors. I felt I should take a chance by putting in my own money. I knew no producer will give me a break. So I made Khudgarz and have not looked back since.
What is your strength as a director?
I am experienced but still learning. I know what is right and what is wrong but direction is my forte. As a director, I am open to new writers. I can only make good films, not necessarily successful films. My film Kites did not run but no one said that it was a bad film. That is because the concept sometimes goes wrong. You should think ahead of your time because every year the generation changes and you have to be ready today to cater to the audience in 2020.