Nadiadwalas haven't moved far ahead with the times: Sajid Naidiadwala
By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, June 29 (IANS) Though his family is into film production for three generations and has given memorable hits in every era, Bollywood's ace producer Sajid Naidiadwala says they couldn't match steps with the changing times.
"I feel the Nadiadwalas haven't so far moved far ahead with the times. Today, if you see Sanjay Bhansali's 'Black' you realise any kind of cinema is possible. It is not just a critical but commercial hit. Our cinema has gone through so many transitions. Film trends have been changing a lot. Though I can't say the same for myself," Nadiadwala told IANS.
"Maybe to change you need to keep yourself free of excessive past influences. But I can't say I'm not proud of our banner. My grandfather has made films like 'Taj Mahal', 'Haath Ki Safai', 'Rampur Ka Lakshman', 'Ghulami'... on to 'Judwaa'. But we do need to reinvent ourselves seriously," he added.
Currently he is busy with "Hey Baby", which is being directed by Farah Khan's brother Sajid, and says, "It's my step towards progressive cinema".
Q: It's been quite a career for you as a producer. Do you think the scenario has changed since your grandfather started the production business?
A: My grandfather started producing films in 1955. In 2005 we celebrated 50 years of film production. The cherry on the cake was that my "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" celebrated a 50-week run.
I feel the main change is in the level of formal education in the film industry. Though my dad made the best of films, he had studied only until eighth standard. And his generation wasn't business savvy at all. He never traveled. He never knew about film making trends in the rest of the world.
Nowadays the overseas market is critical. So you can't afford to be uninformed. As a producer now I can make any kind of films, though I need to exercise that freedom.
Q: What do you mean?
A: I feel the Nadiadwalas haven't so far moved far ahead with the times. Today, if you see Sanjay Bhansali's "Black" you realise any kind of cinema is possible. It is not just a critical but commercial hit. I feel the so-called formula film is out. Our cinema has gone through so many transitions. Film trends have been changing a lot. Though I can't say the same for myself.
Q: Why not?
A: I think to be respected enough to make any kind of cinema a producer has to be a director as well. On the Filmfare Power List I was on number nine this year. But the first eight were all producer-directors. A producer is no longer just a moneybag.
I joined as a seventh assistant to J.P. Dutta's "Ghulami" with my uncle Habib Nadiadwala. I still don't feel prepared to direct. Production is a serious tedious job. We're now competing with international cinema.
Q: Your success ratio is very high...
A: My last five films have been all hits. It scares me. What next? I crave for my films to be critically acclaimed as well as being commercially successful. I feel I'm growing. You know when I signed David Dhawan for "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" he was at his lowest ebb. And he did a good job.
When I met Shirish Kunder he was seeing Farah Khan, who's like my sister. We were at Shah Rukh Khan's place when Shirish narrated a minute-long story. I immediately told him to work on it. He grew with every narration. By the time Shirish started making "Jaan-e-Mann" for me I was tempted to work with more new directors.
Maybe, to change, you need to keep yourself free of excessive past influences. But I can't say I'm not proud of our banner. My grandfather has made films like "Taj Mahal" (starring Bina Rai and Pradeep Kumar), "Adalat", "Haath Ki Safai", "Rampur Ka Lakshman", "Ghulami"... on to "Judwaa", which was Salman Khan's first double role. But we do need to reinvent ourselves seriously.
Q: What future plans?
A: I've a film with Sajid Khan - it's a very emotional film. It's got Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Vidya Balan. And a one-year old baby plays a major part. We've got these guys from LA to work on the baby's expressions. I don't think such a film has been done before. It's my step towards progressive cinema. See, I work alone. I've a huge infrastructure to support. I can't be recklessly experimental. My dream shouldn't become my team's nightmare.
Q: You and Salman share a long-lasting rapport?
A: In 1994 we teamed up for "Jeet" and since then we became close friends. No matter what the media thinks of him, Salman is a very good actor to work with. All my films with him are hits. None of my films with him were delayed.
Q: Do you have to face star egos?
A: Fortunately, I started my career attending shootings with the biggest stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna in "Yaraana" and "Main Azaad Hoon". Since then I've always worked with stars and paired them in untried combinations, like Akshay and Suniel in "Waqt Hamara Hai", Salman and Sunny Deol in "Jeet", Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta in "Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega". So stars have never been a problem. They are my only weakness as a producer. I can't work without stars. In my 15 years as a producer, I've never faced an ugly star tantrum.
Q: Further plans?
A: From 1955 to 2006 has been a long journey for us. I feel in the next 50 years our growth would be much faster. I came to film production after trying my hand at other things. I made the right choice.
Every filmmaker should do what he's got to do. Today, you've to make cinema that your country, production house and bank are proud of. We don't want to be a dinosaur. My big plan is to take our banner through the next 50 years in just 10 years.