After watching the film D-Day, Karan Johar told Nikhil Advani, “The red line on your report card has vanished after this.” Indeed, after making a couple of films like Salaam-e-Ishq, Patiala House and Chandni Chowk to China that didn’t exactly light up the box office, D-Day has opened to critical acclaim and the filmmaker can’t help but take a deep breath of relief. Ask him whether he feels vindicated though, and he says, “I have no reason to do that. I have had failures, but people have always believed that I can still pull it off.” In a chat with SUNDAY MiD DAY, he spoke about the film and his future projects. An excerpt:
Along with all the critical acclaim, there has been some criticism about the plot going haywire in the second half…
I haven’t read such reviews. I’ve only read good reviews. After watching the film, Amitabh Bachchan said this is not cinema, this is a statement. Javed Akhtar told the screenplay writer that till today they thought the younger generation has nothing to say when it comes to cinema but henceforth, they will not be able to say that. These are the kind of statements that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Obviously, I’m not saying it’s flawless. But I’m very surprised and happy when I wake up in the morning to a 100 tweets from people who I don’t know, who are telling me things like they are watching the last show of the day in a jampacked theatre. Let me enjoy my moment.
Although Rishi Kapoor’s character is called Goldman and you have categorically denied that it is modelled on Dawood Ibrahim, yet Dawood’s persona does seem to loom large over it. Please comment.
The film was much more than about bringing the most-wanted man back to India. It was about the four people who go to bring him back and the collateral damage that they have to incur, the sacrifices, the risks and the hell that they have to go through. In fact, the criticism I’ve heard is that Rishi Kapoor didn’t play the role sinister enough. He is too humane and too human. So I think it’s one of the best decisions we took to not give that name to the character.
You’re associated with films like Kal Ho Na Ho and Salaam-e-Ishq. What made you change the genre?
I tried everything and it didn’t work, so I thought let me try something else now! (laughs) Honestly, as a filmmaker you need to tell stories. If you have stories to tell -- whether it’s a romance or comedy or animation or thriller or musical, you should be able to say it. I’m just fortunate I have people who are willing to back my dreams and my visions.
Your last film Delhi Safari received a National Award, but had a limited theatrical release. Why do you think that happened?
Animation, as a genre, is not considered to be commercially viable in our country as yet. In the West, when they release an Epic, or an Ice Age, they don’t release it as a cartoon film but as a summer blockbuster. So, the day we understand that animation is no longer meant for children and can appeal to a wider audience, that day distributors will start showing more faith in the genre.