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Superhit formula

Critics trash my films, people love them

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SCREEN CHEMISTRY: Shetty cast Abhishek Bachchan opposite Devgn because of their off-screen bonhomie

He should have been enjoying the huge success of 'Bol Bachchan' but Rohit Shetty finds that the talk of the film joining the Rs 100-crore club makes him anxious.

Director Rohit Shetty can do no wrong. Or, so it seems. The revenue collections of Bol Bachchan, his latest super hit, might exceed the Rs 100-crore mark. And if it does, it will become the third Shetty film to join this exclusive club after Singham and Golmaal 3. So, what's his formula for success?

The 39-year-old director chuckles uncomfortably, "I don't know. But yes, we write and shoot a film to cater to the audiences that go to see my work. My films don't have item songs or vulgarity so that women and kids can watch them. That plays a significant role in their success, I guess. " Ajay Devgn's association with Shetty has a long history. But the director's decision to cast Abhishek Bachchan in the role of a character with two different identities in Bol Bachchan had surprised many. The director explains: "When we were writing this film, we wanted to cast opposite Ajay an actor who is also comfortable with him off-screen. In the film, there are times when Ajay's character overpowers Abhishek's, on other occasions the opposite happens. For that to look convincing, both the actors needed to be at ease with each other in real life, too. Abhishek fitted the bill perfectly. " The film's title had stumped many. It is usually taken to mean "wise words" and, of course, it also connected with Abhishek. "There is no such thing as writing a film, keeping the name in mind. Entertainment goes beyond names, " he responds, "So what if an expression isn't used commonly beyond a certain context? Singham is a Tamil word, but it worked. For that matter, I don't know what Dabanng means. "

The film is the official remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1979 cult classic Gol Maal. Though Bollywood is known for not acknowledging sources of "inspiration", the film's co-producers Ajay and Dhillin Mehta chose to buy the rights of the classic. This is despite the fact that Bol Bachchan was not planned as a frame-by-frame copy of the original. Shetty was also ready for comparisons. "I was prepared for the backlash of those who would say that we had messed it up thoroughly, " he laughs.
Shetty says he has seen Gol Maal several times since he was a child. "One day, it suddenly struck me that we could develop an idea out of its plot. In fact, I was convinced that the end result would be superb, " he says.

The '100-crore' tag has become a yardstick for judging a film's performance at the box office. Does it multiply the pressure on him to succeed? "It is more than mere pressure. It is unwanted pressure, " admits the director. "With Bol Bachchan, I have given yet another super hit but I can't enjoy its success the way I should because everybody seems to be wondering if it will touch the 100-crore mark. Honestly speaking, this 100-crore thing has become a pain in the neck. "

Next, Shetty will be working with Shah Rukh Khan on Chennai Express, a fun film about a journey that begins in Mumbai and ends in Rameshwaram. That he has decided to do a film with SRK has given rise to speculation that he and Ajay are having serious differences. Shetty denies this. "There are no problems between us. The two of us will be working on Singham 2 after Chennai Express. Chennai Express was decided during the making of Golmaal 3, and Ajay is very happy about it. "

Critics slam his films very often but Shetty says he has become impervious to them. "Oh, I love them, " he laughs. "There was a time when I used to get scared and exasperated when critics lashed out at me. But I have realised that all my films are trashed. But people love them. And that's what matters to me. "

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