Rakesh Roshan doesn’t use terms such as ‘blind’ or ‘visually challenged’ while talking about the roles played by Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam in his forthcoming production, Kaabil, scheduled to release on January 25. “They are as normal as we are,” he says, during the course of our conversation. “For long, our cinema has depicted people with any kind of disability as ‘becharas’. But in reality, I’ve met many achievers who are cheerful and are an inspiration with the way they’ve overcome their physical limitations, if we can call it that way. Kaabil reflects such people,” he says.
After Krrish 3 (2013), which Rakesh Roshan had directed and produced, the search was on for a story that would lend itself to a film. Roshan recalls meeting director Sanjay Gupta, often. “We used to talk about stories and share ideas like any two directors would do. This was before Sanjay got busy with Jazbaa. Once, Hrithik met Sanjay at a party and was stumped by a one-line story he had narrated. Hrithik insisted I listen to Sanjay’s story. I heard three lines, which was enough for me to realise the strength of this story; this film had to be made,” says Roshan.
Now that the film is complete, Rakesh Roshan talks about it with pride. “Sanjay has done a much better job than I would possibly have,” he says, and talks about casting director Mukesh Chhabra’s choices for the supporting cast, Sanjay’s idea of bringing in brothers Ronit and Rohit Roy as antagonists and his choice of Yami Gautam as the leading lady.
Through the making of Kaabil, Rakesh Roshan was a hands-on producer with a firm eye on the end product. “At the end of each day, Sanjay would send me the inputs and I would give him my feedback. Not a pin would move on the sets without my knowledge,” he says, and hastens to add, “It wasn’t like I was interfering or controlling the filmmaking; I was never on the sets. But with Sanjay’s vision and my strength of dealing with the emotional segments, I wanted to make sure we have a good film.” Kaabil, Roshan insists, won’t be an emotionally manipulative, sob story.
On the much talked about clash of Kaabil with Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raaes, Roshan remains firm footed. “I announced my release date well in advance. Last year, when I looked at the film calendar, I saw that November and December 2016 had some big films; January 2017 was a clean slate,” he says.
While Roshan has stuck to his release date citing superstition, he’s aware of box office implications. “Where both films have a box office potential of Rs.200 crore each, we now have to settle for combined possible revenue of Rs.300 crore,” he says.
There’s no sign of bitterness when he speaks. “Shah Rukh and we are good family friends and will always be,” he adds.
Talking of superstition and some things not changing, Kaabil is yet another ‘K’ title from Rakesh Roshan, and it stars Hrithik. “I have more than 100 titles registered beginning with ‘K’,” he says. His forthcoming directorials and productions, he affirms, will star Hrithik. “He’s a versatile actor, unafraid of taking challenges. He can do a Jodhaa Akbar, Guzaarish or a Dhoom 2. He is like what I was in my young years. I’ve done a variety of films both as an actor and a director — Khoon Bhari Maang, Khudgarz, Karan Arjun, King Uncle… We’ve never shied of variety,” he says.
The work equation, Roshan says, has remained healthy. “Hrithik and I argue a lot, with a purpose — of a film shaping up well. At the end of the day, we remain on the same page. To give you an example, when we thought of ideas for promos of the film, Sanjay, Hrithik and I wrote down our thoughts separately and it was amazing how we all wanted similar things in the promos,” he says.
Like his previous productions, Kaabil too, will be dubbed and released in Telugu with an eye on the box office in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. While the Hindi version will target urban centres, Roshan feels the Telugu version will help cut across language barriers in the interiors, “I discovered that after Krrish, Hrithik had a sizeable market in the south and films fared better when they are dubbed in Telugu and Tamil. In fact, at the time of Dhoom 2, I met Yash Chopra and told him he should dub the film for these markets.”