Best known as the Man behind Dabangg, Arbaaz Khan has become a name to reckon in recent times. The actor-producer, who makes his directorial debut with Dabangg 2 where brother Salman Khan reprises the role of Chulbul Pandey, talks about sequels, success and of course, Salman Khan. He was in the city for an event organised by Gillette. Excerpts from an interview:
Acting to direction, your Bollywood connection has grown stronger over the years. So what else prompted Dabangg 2 apart from the astounding success of Dabangg?
Indian cinema has reached a stage where you can plan a franchise from any movie, a concept that Hollywood has followed for years now. Right from Rocky to Star Wars, sequels have been an integral part of cinema. I think people have become more receptive to continuation now. Dabangg has the right ingredients to move forward -- an iconic character (Chulbul Pandey) you can’t stop noticing, awesome one-liners, good songs and Rajjo (played by Sonakshi Sinha). The resounding success of Dabangg just made it easier for us to do a sequel.
How do you feel about your films being re-made in Tamil and other languages? How much do you involve yourself in these projects, besides selling the rights?
It feels good to see remakes being made. The only thing that I expect is that the aesthetics of the original is retained. You have to allow a certain amount of freedom to change a film to suit local tastes. These are things we are already aware of when we sell the rights. As long as the soul of the movie stays, my job is complete. As far as involvement goes, I stay out of it unless I am part of the production process.
Your films seem to invariably revolve round your family members. Is this a conscious effort to promote in-house talent? How does the scripting and casting process work?
No, it’s not a conscious decision. Out of the 40 films I have acted in, I only acted in three with my brother Salman Khan. However, when I was producing Dabangg, Salman was excited about the character and that’s how why he got on board. We will be looking at working with other actors too but working with Salman has proved successful, and it only encourages us to work with him again.
You have stuck to the action genre. Any chance we will see Arbaaz move out of his comfort zone? If so, which the genre would you want to dabble with?
I would love to make a comedy. I believe I have the flair and a fair understanding of the subject and if something comes my way, I will take it up.
Critics were not too happy with Dabangg getting the National Award. How do you react? What are your expectations with the Dabangg 2?
I don't understand why critics were not happy. Look at the category under which it won - The Most Entertaining Film of the Year. Any award is an acknowledgement of what people like. Dabangg succeeded because people saw it for days and weeks and months. It managed to win the hearts of people as it had the right mix of story, action and emotions. And the characters, of course. The question you must ask is should we go with the trend of what people like or try and please a handful of critics? I do not make films for awards. That takes away the focus from the film. I want to enjoy making a film and if people are happy, that’s the best award.
Acting, modelling, direction and production. Also, husband brother and father… which role are you most comfortable with?
I think I love being a director. Making a film was my calling. I loved the fact that I could be creative and in control, and at the same time, have fun. It is the most fulfilling experience. As for family, I don’t know which role I play the best but I enjoy being a father.