Vipul Shah talks about his “London Dreams”

If cinema is about technique and entertainment, Vipul Shah has been able to deliver consistently. After getting his timing right with Waqt, he kissed the big league with Namaste London. This month he is keeping his London connection going with London Dreams. He insists it is not about some superstition but the demand of the script. “Every year youngsters from Punjab go to England legally or illegally to make a name in the world of what they call underground music or grunge. Research shows they go only from Punjab and most of them go to London.”

Vipul has achieved a casting coup by bringing together Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Again he gives it to the story. “It is about two childhood friends. One of them is diligently pursues his musical dream while the other is a maverick. The problem begins when the maverick gets more adulation; his friend who has assiduously pursued his dream begins to get threatened and jealous.” No prizes for guessing that Ajay plays the intense meticulous one while Salman plays the irreverent child at heart.

“At the core they play to their strengths but I have styled the characters against their image. Ajay is not known to be part of musicals but here we have turned him into a stylish rockstar with earrings. On the other hand Salman is considered to be trendy but here he plays an earthy guy, son of the soil.”

Vipul says the public roots for the maverick because most of us are not able to do what we really want in life. “When the hero does it on screen, people see their wishes fulfilled.” So we must expect Vipul backing the rebel? “Yes, being a little crazy, I have a soft corner for the maverick.”

The plot is being compared to a wide range of films from the Oscar winning Amadeus to the obnoxious Shaka Laka Boom Boom. “A section of the media thrives on easy comparisons. In Amadeus the two protagonists don’t know each other and were big names in the industry. If jealousy is the similarity, then my film is closer to Baiju Bawra or Abhiman, where the two protagonists at least know other. Some people have said it is another Rock On! because it has musical concerts. Then why not compare it with Amitabh Bachchan’s Yarana, it also had a musical show!”

The formula

Vipul says he has devised a simple three-pronged formula. “First, the script should be entertaining but the entertainment should be sensible. It should have something for the mind. To me Sholay, Lagaan, Waqt... fall in this category. Secondly, I go for family entertainers, films which a son can watch with his mother without getting embarrassed. And thirdly, at the end audience should be able to take some message with them.”

So what’s the message of London Dreams? “When you go up the ladder in life, your relationships with your relatives, your friends should not get cut off. I am seeing this happening with youngsters quite a lot these days. Believe me despite my moving from theatres to television to films, I still have the same circle of friends – JD, Atish Kapadia (he wrote Vipul’s first two films) and Deven Bhojani.”

Vipul recalls while he was acting in plays at Prithvi theatre, he noted that he critically observed other actors during the performance. “I used to find faults with their make-up, costumes and even dialogue delivery. It is there that I realised that I should direct and my friends backed me.”

Going by his formula, his production Singh is Kinng doesn’t pass muster as sensible entertainment. “See, I liked the concept but every film bears a director’s stamp and it had the stamp of Anees Bazmee,” he evades.

As a producer he is for variety as he points out his next production is Barnali Shukla’s “Kuchh Love Jaisa” which has his wife Shefali Shah (she has just won the National Award for the best supporting actress) and Rahul Bose in the lead roles. “It is an interesting tale about what happens when a housewife and a criminal meet in a restaurant.” Meanwhile, he is set to move on to Action Replay with his favourite Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai in the lead. And yes, the comparisons are already on!