Dharani on the challenges of being a commercial director and his forthcoming Osthe, a remake of the Hindi hit Dabangg

“Anything that's proven to be successful at the box office cannot be wrong,” he says when you ask him if he found anything wrong with Dabangg, the film he has remade as Osthe. Osthe, produced by Reliance and Balaji Real Media, is gearing up for a release in November.

Dharani is as commercial as a filmmaker gets with Dhil, Dhool, Ghilli and Kuruvi to his credit. Critics weren't kind to Kuruvi, but Dharani never looks back at his own films. “Once I finish a film, it's over. No use looking back.”

It's almost like he's speaking “punch dialogue” (as they are called in Kodambakkam) for every question asked. It's no surprise then that he's probably the best choice to make mass-based films that are unapologetic commercial entertainers shorn of guilt.

Kuruvi was also a big hit. It ran for 150 days. As a commercial director, unless your film collects, you can't do your next film. We have already sold Osthe to distributors from Coimbatore and Tiruchi after the audio launch.”

So how much of Dabangg will we see in its official remake?

“Like how I adapted Okkadu to Ghilli, I had to adapt. I couldn't just remake Dabangg into Osthe,” says Dharani. “I have adapted it without changing the content or the soul but I have put my stamp and brand of pacing on it.”

A difficult script

“Dabangg was a very difficult script to study — it was an action film, a love story and a family drama with a lot of comedy. When Simbu called me, I took 15 days off just to study the script. You can call it a complete family entertainer. There was a father-son conflict, mother's passion, sibling rivalry… it was a good script and I decided that it would be fresh to see Simbu as a cop.”

“After Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, this is Simbu's first full-fledged action film that will showcase him as an action hero and break his lover boy image,” he adds.

“Simbu is very talented and sharp. We understand each other and are on the same wavelength, I was happy to work with him. He works really hard. He spent three hours working out in the morning and three hours in the evening and then eight hours of shooting in between. It could get very tiring.”

The audio was launched last week and apparently, there were five lakh downloads within the first two days of the launch, says Dharani. “Everyone was wondering how we would recreate the Munni magic… We brought back L. R. Easwari to do this song with T. Rajendher and ‘Kala Kala' has hit the charts real big.” Mallika Sherawat has been roped in for the Malaika Arora item number.

With new-find Richa stepping into Sonakshi's shoes and Sonu Sood reprising his role as the bad guy, the film has VTV Ganesh doing Mahesh Manjrekar's part, Nasser playing the stepfather (the role Vinod Khanna did), Revathy as the mother (performed by Dimple in Dabangg) and Jithan Ramesh cast as the brother played by Arbaaz Khan in the original. The film also boasts of an elaborate comic line-up, featuring Santhanam, Vyapuri, Mayilsamy and Thambiramiaah.

The credits include Gopinath (director of photography), Taman (music), V. T. Vijayan (editing), Kalyan and Robert (choreography), Vidya Reddy (costumes), Bharathan (dialogues) and Maniraj (production design).

Action sequences

“We have three fight masters — Ram Lakshman from Andhra Pradesh, Kanal Kannan and Mankatha fame Silva. We wanted every action sequence to stand out and be different from the other,” Dharani explains.

“I really have to thank my team for shooting non-stop for 90 days. We had a start-to-finish schedule in Mysore where we put up a Tirunelveli set,” he adds.

Dharani's mother passed away during the making of the film. Since he didn't want to break the schedule, the filmmaker quietly put dance master Kalyan in charge of a song shoot and left to perform the last rites.

“I want to give this film as a tribute to my mom. We have put in a lot of hard work. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”