“Till Karan Johar tells me that he is tired of me and my kind of films, I will keep on making films for Dharma Productions.” — Siddharth Malhotra

September 13th, 2010 - 2:10 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

September 13, 2010 (Sampurn Wire): Siddarth P. Malhotra, director of ‘We Are Family’ tells Sampurn Wire’s Jyothi Venkatesh that he had felt that he had won half his battle when Arjun Rampal cried after he narrated the subject to him.

Didn’t you feel that it was risky on your part to make your debut with a mature film like “We Are Family”?

For my debut, I was actually planning to make a romantic comedy, though it had always been a secret desire of mine to do an adaptation. However, when Karan trusted me with the task of directing the film ‘We Are Family’, which is an adaptation of ‘Step Mom’, I decided to put my script for the romantic comedy on the back burner and started work on We Are Family

Did you ever think of taking up acting like your grand father Premnath and your dad Prem Kishen?

I had always wanted to take up filmmaking. I became a director because of Karan. I have always loved his world of cinema and he is like a guru to me, though I have assisted different directors like Vidhu Vinod Chopra in his film ‘Kareeb’, Sooraj Barjatya in his film ‘Vivaah’ and Karan Johar in ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’.

What did you imbibe from makers like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sooraj Barjatya and Karan Johar?

I was only 15 when I was assisting Vidhu Vinod Chopra. I was raw. I learned how to be passionate when one sets out to make a film from Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who also taught me how to believe in what you do with full conviction. From Sooraj Barjatya I learnt how to be honest towards your work. Karan Johar taught me not to try to prove myself as a director if the script does not demand it and say it in the right way with integrity towards your work

To what extent have you deviated from the original script of ‘Step Mom’ when you set out to make ‘We Are Family’?

I had to Indianise my film by making the characters more nobler than what they were in ‘Step Mom’. I wanted to make “We Are Family” look like today’s film, since ‘Step Mom’ had been made twelve years ago.

How difficult was it for you to cast an actor like Arjun Rampal in a woman oriented film like “We Are Family”?

I cast Arjun Rampal in the role of the man sandwiched between two women in ‘We Are Family’, because we did not need a big hero for the role. If you remember, it was Ed Harris who had essayed the same character in Step Mom. When you compare the role of Arjun with that of Ed, you will agree that Arjun has a bigger role in “We Are Family”. What I liked about Arjun is that he has absolutely no apprehensions about doing a role in a women oriented film, with power houses of performances like Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. Arjun cried when I narrated the script to him and for me it was like I had won half the battle as far as casting was concerned.

Did you find it tough to direct Kajol and Kareena?

It was not tough at all to direct two high voltage performers like Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. At the risk of sounding pompous, I’d like to say that I have always worked with directors who have been very clear about their characters. You will find your job tough only if you get conscious of the presence of the actors on the sets and become nervous when they ask you questions about their characters or their characterizations and do not have the answers. Once your actors start trusting you, they are yours and you can ply them the way you want to mould them. It is bonus if you have actors like Kajol and Kareena who have already proved their worth on the screen.

What is your approach as a director?

My motto has always been to make honest and sincere films which can touch the chords of the hearts of the audiences. Whatever may the genre of the film that I set out to make, I would always be true to my work. I do not want to slot myself in any particular mould as a director and make films in different genres.

What have you learnt after making “We Are Family”?

After making “We Are Family”, my responsibility has increased tremendously as a filmmaker but only for myself. My father Prem Kishen is very happy and proud that I have made a very sensitive film as my debut film. I have learnt that making a film is not enough but marketing and projection of your film is also equally important

What next?

Though I made my debut as a director with a mature film like we Are Family, my next film will be out and out a commercial pot boiler. It will be on the lines of Golmaal, Chupke Chupke etc. Since I have signed a three film contract with Karan Johar, I would be making my next film too for Karan Johar. I owe my loyalty to Dharma Productions, like Karan Johar owes his loyalty to Yashji and Aditya Chopra and till Karan Johar tells me that he is tired of me and my kind of films, I will keep on making films for Dharma Productions, though I have a production house which has to its credit films like Yeh Mohabbat Hai and Garv The Pride.

– Jyothi Venkatesh / Sampurn Wire

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