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Remake Sholay? Where would i get six great actors?
Like his legendary father Ramesh Sippy, Rohan Sippy finds filmmaking across different genres challenging and exciting. And Sippy has shown that he’s pretty adept at playing around with narratives that are, at once, fresh and entertaining as well as commercial. In a freewheeling conversation with TOI-Crest , Sippy discusses his new film ‘Nautanki Saala’ — a romantic comedy of errors set in a theatre and adapted from a French hit — and muses on just why it may be pointless to remake any of his father’s famous films
You take a long time to make films. How different is your new film 'Nautanki Saala' from your last few films?
It is slightly different but not a complete departure. There is a thread of similarity with my earlier films as well, especially humour. Like in Bluffmaster! or Taxi No. 9211, where two diametrically opposite characters were pitted against each other, in Nautanki Saala, we have Ayushmann Khurrana and Kunal Roy Kapur almost resembling these characters. Even the setting of Mumbai remains the same. On a broad level, you can say a Bluffmaster ! is a Nautanki and a Nautanki is a Bluffmaster!. But since Nautanki Saala is an adaptation of the French film After You, we have brought in elements that would suit Indian audience's sensibilities.
How difficult it is do work on an original story or an adaptation of a film?
When you are making an adaptation, you need to understand the pitch that drives the film. Then it also depends on how you adapt it. Ultimately, it is a director's judgment call. And you can know whether your call is appropriate only when the audience gives it a thumping response. In this adaptation of the French film, we have changed almost half the film. We have brought in the backdrop of theatre in our adaptation whereas in the original the backdrop is of a French restaurant. It is about waiters and headwaiters. We brought in stage performances in our adaptation. To add to the humour we introduced a Ram-Leela episode in the film. We have changed it completely. Even the climax was changed. So, yes, it is an enjoyable experience to take an original film and bring out an adaptation filtered through one's sensibilities.
Along with you, there are two more writers who have written the film. Who actually came up with the idea of adapting this French film?
I had seen the film two years ago and I loved the film. After the release of Vicky Donor, I met Ayushmann Khurrana about the adaptation. He liked it too. I had shown the French film to Kunal Roy Kapur to take him on as the director. Kunal had worked with us as a director of The President is Coming. Then he got busy with Delhi Belly. After watching the film he had suggested that we should bring in the element of theatre in the film. I thought the Indian audience would connect to it. But instead of directing, we thought Kunal would be perfect in the role of actor. There are two writers in the film including me. Some people had suggested Nipun Dharmadhikari. He came on board as one of the scriptwriters. It was Nipun who suggested the element of Ram-Leela episode in the story.
There are various sources from which filmmakers derive subjects of their films - literature, films or personal life. What inspires you most?
My last two films were ideas suggested by Sridhar Raghavan. One was Bluffmaster ! and the other was Dum Maaro Dum. In both films, Sridhar had worked on the structure of the film very well. For instance, for Dum Maaro Dum, he had sent me a novella. I was blown away by the way one story was illustrated through different points of view. He researched Goa's drug problem and his story brought a newness to the whole narrative. Though I was excited by the idea, I found it very challenging to make a film out of it. So, there are just two things that convince me to embark on a film project: the excitement of a subject and the challenge involved in making a film out of it. It may be an adaptation or an original story or an idea suggested by someone. I am not a writer-director who creates an original idea. One thing I learnt from my father was one should try different genres, film after film.
Tell us about your association with
Sridhar Raghavan. Your last two films were with him. How does the chemistry work?
I think he is a great storyteller. He is one of the finest scriptwriters we have in the industry. He has been a mentor to Rajat Arora (dialogue writer for films like Taxi No. 9211, The Dirty Picture, and Once Upon Time in Mumbai) and recommended him to me. Rajat had worked with Sridhar on the TV show CID. His training in writing serials such as CID has honed his skills. Sridhar is a very generous and talented man. I think what works for me is his understanding of the script's structure. It worked well in Bluffmaster!. Even today, I share the credit of the success of the film with him.
Everyone seems to be remaking old classics. Would you be interested in remaking any of your father's films like 'Andaz', 'Shakti', or 'Sagar' ?
I don't think I can improve his films. I would consider anyone who attempts remaking any of them a fool. That is my personal opinion. There are so many things you need to take into account. In one film (Sholay), he could rope in six great actors. I don't think today we have even one actor of the calibre of these great actors. Even the system and culture have changed. Today, there ar hardly any multi-starrer films being made. And even if you get stars, where would you get RD Burman and Salim-Javed ?
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