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Rohit Shetty continues his hit parade at the box office

Rohit Shetty (pic: Prathamesh Bandekar)

Rohit Shetty is in a jolly good mood when we meet him at his Andheri office. He is jubilant that his latest offering, 'Golmaal Again', has struck gold at the box office. In fact, the fourth instalment of Bollywood's biggest comedy franchise has not only registered the highest opening weekend numbers of 2017 so far, but is also the fastest Rohit Shetty-Ajay Devgn film to cross the Rs100-crore mark. With this, Rohit has become the only B-Town director to have seven Rs 100 crore plus films and one ('Chennai Express') Rs 200 crore movie in his repertoire.

Given that this film comes seven years after the last 'Golmaal', we asked Rohit what his biggest challenge was in making it a success. He said, "The toughest part was making this instalment bigger and taking it a few notches above the previous film. I didn't want the audience to say that it's just another comedy. We went all out to make it the way it has turned out, and there's a lot of CG (computer graphics), too. It felt great to hear people say that there was an emotional angle and we've upped the scale of the franchise. The box-office collections prove that all our efforts have been appreciated by the audience. The budget was high and it's the first time I've put up so many sets."

Franchises are common and popular in Hollywood. As a filmmaker, what does he think is the key to building one? "Firstly, the characters should be loveable and the film should do well on satellite television. When it plays on the small screen, it has to have a certain recall value. That's the main reason 'Golmaal' is still fresh on people's minds," he says, adding, "And, it's not just Ajay, Tusshar or Arshad's characters, Johnny Lever's Pappi bhai and Mukesh Tiwari's Vasooli bhai are equally popular. Even in Hollywood franchises, it is the character that people like."

Be it the 'Golmaal' and 'Singham' series, 'All The Best', 'Chennai Express' or 'Dilwale', most of Rohit's films have been loyal to the action-comedy, action romance genres. Does he ever see himself making an intense and passionate film? "At present, I don't see that happening because my brand, as far as this genre is concerned, has become big. People expect something from me and to prepare them for something drastically different, is a difficult task," he says matter of factly.

He reasons, "At this point in my career, when I'm making big-budget films, I need the support of the masses. So, whatever film I make has to be pan India. Be it any genre, I have to pad it up with entertainment. Also, since my films are expensive, I have to ensure recovery of investment as well; so, the commercial angle will always be there. Even if I make a romantic film, it will be commercial and entertaining."

He further elaborates, "As far as my theory of a big budget film goes, I think from a middle-class family's point of view. Many of them are spending 10 per cent of their monthly income to watch my film in the theatre. So, am I giving them their money's worth? What is paisa vasool entertainment? Giving them value for money is of utmost importance to me."

He is a filmmaker whose vision gets bigger with each film. So, where does he draw his inspiration from? Rohit answers, "As a kid, I looked up to filmmakers like Vijay Anand and Manmohan Desai. When I worked as an assistant director, my idol was Mukul S Anand. Back then, they didn't have big budgets, but they made grand films. Now, we have lavish budgets and technical advantage, but despite that, very few directors are making grand films. My schooling in movies is of those days. So for me, cinema will always be larger than life. When someone sees a film in theatres, it should be a big and cinematic experience."


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