Thursday, October 11, 2007
Farah Khan confesses that the concept of her second film as a director – the Shahrukh Khan-Deepika Padukone-starrer Om Shanti Om was generated from her show Bombay Dreams. "While I was watching the show, I realized that for the NRI audiences, black-and-white films have been frozen in their hearts forever, especially because of the kind of costumes that the actors used to wear," Farah said when I met her for this interview at Hotel Land's End in Bandra.
She continued: "I thought that the 70s were the most interesting period, be it Sholay with Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra or Amar Akbar Anthony with Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna. Things went downhill only from the 80s. Styling was very unique in the 70s."
Inspired by the phase, the first half of Om Shanti Om has been set 30 years back, in 1971. Even in Main Hoon Na, Farah's maiden venture as a director – she made Shahrukh wear bell-bottoms like in the good old 70s. Now, Om Shanti Om has been treated like a period film. "We made it a point to do a lot of referencing during the pre-production stage of the film. We got lots of junior artistes from the 70s. In fact we had to hunt for the cars which were in vogue back then. Ultimately, we managed to lay our hands on the Mercedes that once belonged to Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini. We hired the godown of R.K. Studios where a lot of used costumes and cars were lying," the director recalled.
Farah's choice of Shreyas Talpade was finalized after she watched him in Subhash Ghai's Apna Sapna Money Money. As for today's actresses, the director thinks none have the poise and the dignity that the leading ladies of the 70s had. "Deepika has this old-world charm and beauty about her. I did a 'look test' with her before taking her as my leading lady. What I liked about her is that she is at home in all kind of costumes. Deepika fits the role well, like Hemaji in the 70s." To prepare the newcomer for the role, Farah gave her voice training and dance classes, besides the three-month acting course with Anupam Kher. Deepika's previous experience of acting in a Kannada film was an added help.
King Khan, too, promptly agreed to Farah's proposal to get six pack abs. "Shahrukh just asked for three months and he worked hard. He told me that if he did not get the six packs he would not take off his shirt in front of the camera. I always felt that he should do an item song at least once. I think it is a great makeover at the age of 42 when others become too old. I have shot Shahrukh like Ramgopal Varma shoots his heroines."
Farha thinks Om Shanti Om takes a "mad look" at the film industry today, revealing its happy side which she has always seen till date. The director is grateful to all the 31 stars who consented to take part in a sequence in her film, adding to its glamour quotient. "Mithun caught the first flight from Kolkata, while Dharamji and Jeetuji agreed to come within just half-an-hour of me and Shah Rukh calling them and requesting them to oblige us by making special appearances in our film. I feel that the ideal combo of the 70s would have been Dharamji and Amitabh Bachchan," Farah mused. But with each great idea comes a small glitch. Farah's grandiose idea of bringing together Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand went for a toss when the latter refused to do a special appearance.
In this day and age, Shahrukh is the best. She confesses that she finds it difficult to work with other actors after having worked with him. "Frankly, Shah Rukh and I did not know the budget for Om Shanti Om when we launched the project. I feel it is tacky to talk about your budget before your film is released. If you make a movie in Rs 10 crores, it can be good."
As on the professional front, the going is great on the personal front too for Farah. The mother-to-be is expecting triplets by March next year. She confesses that she has happily retired from choreography and will work on a project only if it is her own. In fact, she has vowed not to take up any choreography work even if it is her husband Shirish Kunder's film or her brother Sajid Khan's film.
Post-release of Om Shanti Om, Farah would start work on the script of Happy New Year. "The script of that film was not happening the way we wanted it to. Hence we have kept the project on hold till Om Shanti Om is released," Farah explained.
As of now, Farah is basking with pride for the way Om Shanti Om has shaped up. She had loved the compositions of Anu Malik in her maiden venture as a director Main Hoon Na. "But I wanted a change in Om Shanti Om, especially after Indian Idol 3. I desperately needed a break from Anu who was my co-judge on the show Indian Idol 2," said the plain-speaking woman.