Kunal Deshmukh: Prachi Desai wanted to fake the lip-lock

The Jannat 2 director says that all kinds of films can co-exist and he is happy the way his film has shaped up, despite the last-minute inclusion of his leading lady in the sequel to his hit ‘franchise’, Jannat Miss India International, Esha Gupta

It is tough job, making commercial films in Bollywood and Kunal Deshmukh has learned from the Bhatts, the emerging production house, which somehow knows what the audience wants. He has no qualms about toeing the line and doesn’t see himself as an indie filmmaker, as he is happy in his space. Though he is busy with the dubbing and the background score of his forthcoming film, he took some time off to share his take on cinema, his mentor, his idols and more…

First things first, have the Bhatts perfected the formula of making a hit film?

Well no, there is no such formula that I know of. My last film, the Emraan Hashmi-Soha Ali Khan-starrer Tum Mile,was not a hit. People might have watched it and liked it too, but the fact is that it was sold at a higher price, due to which it wasn’t a hit by BO standards.

Your previous films have a Mahesh Bhatt hangover, though your vision stands out; comment…

I have worked with Mr Bhatt for the longest time and have grown up watching his films. No doubt my films will remind you of his signature because I have always looked up to him with respect. That doesn’t mean that he is present on the sets and calling the shots. I mean it in a good way and I would rather take it as a compliment.

Do you feel constrained as a filmmaker, when you are stuck with a camp which is known for making a certain kind of cinema?

They are not holding a gun to my head. I am free to do what I want to and they have trusted me, irrespective of the fate of my films. They allow me to make the kind of films that I wish to make and for me, that is of primary importance.

Emraan Hashmi has evolved as a star since he acted in your debut film. Has he changed as a person?

We’ve been friends for a very long time, so he hasn’t changed one bit as far as I am concerned. He has acted in my last two films and I understand his strengths and weaknesses in totality. For Jannat 2, we had to work extra hard, as the setting was different and so was the accent, but we were totally in sync. We did extensive preparation for his role, as he was on board from day one.

What about Prachi Desai; she was supposed to be playing the leading lady in Jannat 2.

Yes, initially we had signed her for the film and we had even tweaked some scenes to accommodate her demands with regard to the intimacy shown on-screen. One fine day the powers that be at Vishesh Films told me that they wanted to up the sensuality quotient of the film. That meant that the intimate scenes had to be more than what Prachi had agreed on. She wanted us to fake the lip-lock, but I had orders to add an intimate scene and she wasn’t comfortable with that. As a filmmaker, I respect her decision and we will work together in the future, but it just wasn’t working out for Jannat 2. We parted ways amicably.

Was Esha Gupta comfortable when you narrated the script and her scenes in the film?

I have said this earlier; we could have cast anyone who was ready to do the so-called intimate scenes, but we took a while before zeroing-in on Esha. The best part about her is that she wants to be a star and is willing to go that extra mile to be in that space. We only got a week’s time to prepare her for the role, but she is a hardworking girl and has tried to match up to Emraan, who is a much better actor than her. I am happy with the way she has performed in the film and I am sure she will go places.

Do you think sequels are being overdone in Bollywood?

If there is a script which justifies a sequel, then I don’t see anything wrong with that. To be very frank, Jannat 2 is not a sequel, it is a franchise, as it doesn’t begin where Jannat ended. This is a totally different film altogether.

What about item numbers?

We are not re-inventing the wheel; it has been around for years. If you go to small towns you will see that cinema means so much to the audience. It is their escape route from the drudgeries of life. If an item number makes them happy, why deny them of that?

What if you were not a part of the Bhatt camp; would your films be any different?

I certainly don’t think so. I would have still made Jannat, Tum Mile and Jannat 2. I don’t see myself making independent cinema. I am happy in the space that I am in. These days all kinds of films are co-existing and that is the best part of the times we are in.

Who are the present-day filmmakers you look up to, among your contemporaries?

Out of the present lot I am highly impressed by Rajkumar Hirani. I also like the films made by Imtiaz Ali. Anurag Kashyap is the real poster boy of independent cinema; he makes what he believes in and that itself is a very commendable feat. Not to forget, I am a very huge fan of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and his films. I watch all films that are released and like I said earlier, I feel that it is a good time for filmmakers of all kinds. Please do watch my film and let me know how you like it.

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