After a couple of duds, David Dhawan strives to strike a chord with his audience with “Chashme Buddoor”

As I was waiting for my turn to interview David Dhawan, I asked Siddharth about his director. The actor, who is reprising the role that Ravi Baswani played in Sai Paranjpye’s Chashme Buddoor, said, “He gets so excited on the sets that at times he comes in front of the camera and spoils his own shot.”

For some other director, it might sound as an exaggeration but with Dhawan you are likely to believe it. Divyendu Sharma, who is getting attention for reciting ribald poetry as Omi, chips in with his own take. “He starts narrating tales of working with Govinda and Amitabh Bachchan and when the cameraman intervenes, he asks him to wait till he finishes.”

Dhawan’s innocent ways are legendary and perhaps that’s why we don’t mind his over the top variety of entertainment. When one asked him that once upon a time his cinema was considered regressive, he said, “Raja Babu is my favourite film. I made those films very innocently. When I realised that some other message is going through, I changed track.” Indeed, he is a master of reinvention. The FTII graduate started his career by editing films like Saath Saath and Saaransh. “I was always passionate about my work but I knew I was an outsider then and bided for my time,” he tells me. To be a Manmohan Desai fan in FTII those days was really offbeat. “I just wanted to entertain. My idea was not to give any social message but make simple films that families could watch together.”

Rakesh Bedi was his batch mate at FTII and they used to share a room with Ravi Baswani. The two were part of Paranjpye’s Chashme Buddoor, which Dhawan has remade after hitting a new low with Rascals. He is forthcoming in accepting his mistakes. “Rascals was a big fault. I asked myself, David, how can you make such a bad film after delivering so many hits?”

He said he had forgotten about Chashme Buddoor. “It was Viacom, who had bought the rights and offered me to remake it. At first I refused to do it but later I realised that it could be made with young faces with some changes to the setting. I worked on it for one year but initially the fun element was missing. When Sajid Farhad joined me as dialogue writers I started getting interest and then I decided to do it. It is my version and I hope it is apparent right from the music to dialogues. Nobody else can think of ‘Har Ek Friend Kamina Hota Hai’.” He doesn’t mind sharing that the idea of the song came after the shooting was almost over. “I made some changes here and there to adjust the song.”

Did he meet Sai Paranjpye? “I didn’t feel the need for it. I have heard that she is a little unhappy or indifferent to the remake. But the very fact that I am remaking her film proves that I liked her work. Today, I am in a position to say that she was very talented. People are eager to watch my film because her film has withstood the test of time.”

Dhawan now relies on his sons to give him an idea about what the new generation wants. “Regular nahin chalta hai (doesn’t work anymore),” he tried to put his experience in words. “People want believability in their cinema now. I have taken out slapstick. Jab tak chala, chala. If you won’t understand, audience will make you understand. If you have ego you won’t be able to adapt. You have to listen to the youngsters around you.”

Refraining from commenting on Sajid Khan’s Himmatawala, Dhawan said it was better to set the remake in contemporary setting. “The youth of today won’t relate to the laidback atmosphere of those days. The editing pattern has changed. So I have upped the energy level and pace to suit the stressful times of today.” Dhawan said as the visual literacy increased editing was the first thing to change and that’s why he stopped editing his film. “People understand a lot without saying.”

Does he really come in front of the camera? “I do at times because the scene has to excite me first before I can it. I don’t judge a scene from the video monitor. I like to see my actors perform without the camera assist.”

Now, his full concentration is on consolidating his son Varun’s career. “I am making a film with him. He has the qualities of a mainstream actor and he fits into my scheme of things.”