cinema An actor’s director, Rajkumar Santoshi is back in business to prove that there is no expiry date for a filmmaker

“Phata Poster Nikhla Hero”. It is not just for Shahid Kapur who is looking for a breakthrough after a lull, the title also suggests the return of Rajkumar Santoshi to the turnstiles after a long gap. Usually filmmakers don’t go into hiding after a hit but Santoshi, one of the most gifted filmmakers in the industry, took a rather long break after “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani”. The film turned Ranbir Kapoor into a star material but Santoshi got lost in a “Power” struggle.

“A rare filmmaker in Bollywood who writes his own stories, Santoshi says, “My idea always has been to make films on subjects that come from the heart. I don’t go by the trend, nor do I repeat myself. I have been constantly asked about the sequel of ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ but I am resisting it because I have no story to justify the sequel. I want success but not just for the sake of money. I want a hit to give me the power to choose the subjects I want to see on screen. If a film doesn’t do well then I will be dictated by the producer to make the film that he wants. I want my films to be successful so that I can do my own thing.”

Having full faith in his audience, Santoshi says it is not necessary that every film should touch 100 crores. “If the cost of the film is recovered and it earns 15 to 20 per cent profit, then I think it is enough. In the race to 100 crores the entire focus of the film changes. What I do is, I make the film my way and then leave its marketing to the producer, as I feel once the film is made they have the right to exploit it the way they want to recover the money.”

However, “Phata Poster…” seems to be in the same zone as “Ajab…” Considering the producer is the same, was he pushed to make another young comedy? Santoshi denies the charge. “The initial trailer did give an impression that it is similar to ‘Ajab…’ because of the comic flavour and the element of innocence but it is an action comedy which has a very strong emotional base. ‘Phata Poster…’ is about the boy who wants to become an actor but ends up becoming a police officer but it is also about the mother-son relationship and as such a lot of dramatic moments are there, which were not there in ‘Ajab…’ It is a strange mixture of comedy and emotions with unexpected twists and turns. Like ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ you have to believe in the crazy universe of the film to enjoy it. It is like a Peter Sellers comedy. You might see serious things happening but the treatment is totally comic,” says Santoshi and goes on to add that Padmini Kolhapure is returning as the mother and the family audience will like her track with Shahid. One reminds him that dialogues are back in vogue with films like “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai” and “The Dirty Picture”. “It is more of jumlebaazi . I find them juvenile. In such films even if the actor asks for tea, the waiter comes up with some rhyming lines. After a point everybody starts sounding the same, as if I have come to attend a mushaira . It shows lack of integrity in characterisation.”

Son of director-lyricist P.L. Santoshi, he has got versatility in his blood. He recalls “Barsaat Ki Raat” and “Hum Pancchi Ke Daal Ke”, the films that made his father famous. And after “Phata Poster…” Santoshi is eager to return to serious drama with an adaptation of Asghar Wajahat’s “Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai”.

“I have this in my mind for a long time. I hope ‘Phata Poster…’ does well so that I can channelise my energies towards something that I really care for. I want to come out of the whirlpool. When I watch Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Vijay Anand and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s work, I feel what all these greats said through healthy entertainment decades back! We are more like one-eyed kings in the land of the blind,” Santoshi trails off.

anuj kumar