Now, he calls the shots

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CHATLINE As he dons the director’s cap for “Dabangg 2”, Arbaaz Khan is ready for yet another challenge. ARCHANA SUBRAMANIAM

Arbaaz KhanPhoto: S.R. Raghunathan
Arbaaz KhanPhoto: S.R. Raghunathan

Best known as the Man behind “Dabangg”, Arbaaz Khan has become a name to reckon in recent times. The actor-producer makes his directorial debut with “Dabangg 2” where brother Salman Khan reprises the role of Chulbul Pandey. In the city for an event organised by Gillette, Arbaaz Khan talks about sequels, success and of course, Salman Khan. Excerpts from the interview:

From acting to direction, your Bollywood journey has been very interesting. So what prompted “Dabangg 2 ” apart from the astounding success of “Dabangg ”?

Indian cinema has reached a stage where you can plan a franchise of any movie, a concept that Hollywood has followed for years. Right from “Rocky” to “Star Wars”, sequels have been an integral part of cinema. I think people have become more receptive to sequels now. “Dabangg” has the right ingredients for a follow-up film -- an iconic character Chulbul Pandey (played by Salman Khan), catchy one-liners, good songs and the charming Rajjo (played by Sonakshi Sinha). The resounding success of “Dabangg” just made it easier for us to make 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. The only thing that I am particular about 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 aware of when we sell the rights. But as long as the soul of the movie is intact, I am happy, and 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 cast 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 worked in, I acted in only three with my brother Salman Khan. However, when I was producing “Dabangg”, Salman was excited about the character and that’s how 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 for it. If something really good 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 “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 audiences over 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 like making movies and if people are happy, that’s the best award.

Acting, modelling, direction and production. Which role are you most comfortable with?

I think I enjoy being a director. I feel making a film was my calling. I love the fact that I can be creative and in control, and at the same time, have fun. Directing has proved to be the most fulfilling experience of my life.

And as husband, brother and father…

I don’t know which role I play the best but I enjoy being a father.

The resounding success of Dabangg just made it easier for us to make a sequel. mandatory for us to follow suit.



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