It took almost five years for Rajkumar Hirani to finish his upcoming project 'pk' and the director, known for his 'Munnabhai' series and '3 Idiots', says he would rather make fewer films than compromise on his story for quick money.
In his decade-long career as a director, Hirani, 52, has made just four films -- 'Munnabhai MBBS', 'Lage Raho Munnabhai', '3 Idiots' and 'PK'.
Considered among the best filmmakers in Bollywood today for his knack of wedding social issues with an entertaining storyline, Hirani says his success formula is just 'patience and a lot of rewriting'.
"You keep battling your own work in a sense. There are two ways to look at this... After making a hit, I could make more money by signing five more films or try to better my previous work. I choose to follow the second path rather than run after money. This is the attempt always, whether I succeed or fail," Hirani told PTI in an interview.
The director says he found the courage to stick to his convictions after the surprise success of his first film in 2003.
"When I made the first 'Munnabhai' film, I thought it would be a middle-of-the-road movie, would be liked but won't be as successful as Yash Raj films or the ones that Karan (Johar) made. Fortunately, it was not only liked but did well commercially. That gave me confidence to stick to what I believe in," Hirani says.
The director credits his writing collaborator Abhijat Joshi for not tiring as they struggle to come up with something unique with every film.
"100 years of Indian cinema has happened. Anything you do, feels like it has already been done. The struggle is to find a new and unique idea. After that, it is a lot of patience. You keep writing and rewriting till you are happy. Script is the real foundation."
'pk' starring Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sanjay Dutt and Sushant Singh Rajput in key roles, is releasing this Friday.
Hirani says it was a particularly difficult film to crack.
The story of 'pk' is still shrouded in mystery despite the buzz created by Aamir's nearly nude poster. Hirani says it has been really difficult to talk about the film without giving away spoilers.
What is known so far is that in the film, Aamir will be seen donning bizarre outfits and speaking in Bhojpuri.
"India has so many different languages that a simple sentence spoken in Bhojpuri or Rajasthani gives a nice colour to your story. In 'Munnabhai', we used the typical 'Bambaiyaa' dialect and it gave a lot of colour to the movie.
"In 'pk', there was a chance to use another language. I came up with Rajasthani but Aamir wanted to speak in Bhojpuri as he is a huge fan of the whole 'Ganga-jamuni' culture and I said okay. Sanju would be seen speaking in typical Rajasthani dialect."
Over the years, Hirani has formed a close bond with Dutt (the subject of his next film starring Ranbir Kapoor), Aamir, Boman Irani and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra but the director says his personal relationships don't influence the casting.
"I cast Sanju because he really fit Munnabhai's role while Aamir was perfect for '3 Idiots' and 'pk'. Aamir works really hard to give his best to his roles and he has done justice to his character in 'pk' as well."
Hirani says once he finishes a film, he is tempted to take a long holiday but ends up getting involved in his next project.
"When I finish a film, I feel like taking a long holiday.
But two weeks into my holiday and I start itching to do my next. I have been working on this one for five years without breaks. But I think I would begin my next soon and it won't take that much of time."
'pk' marks Hirani's debut as a producer, which the director says was a natural progression.
"I have been looking after the production work for a long time as Vidhu has never been a hands on producer. He would just give a cheque and tell me, 'Go make your film'. It is not something new but a natural progression."