Known for making lavish films like Aankhen, Waqt: The Race Against Time, Namastey London and Singh Is Kinng, Vipul Amrutlal Shah is back once again with his next film London Dreams.
The film, which stars Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn and Asin, releases on 30 October. In a heart-to-heart with Businessofcinema.com, Shah speaks about London Dreams, the current state of the Hindi film industry and more.
What is London Dreams about?
London Dreams is a story of two friends starting from the age of 7 to 35. It’s a film about the journey of their friendship. From a small town of Punjab they go to London to pursue the dream of making a band, which is called London Dreams. There is a love triangle as both of them fall in love with the same girl. The friendship and the love triangle in the backdrop of the musical world is the basic plot of London Dreams.
Salman Khan’s Wanted did very well at the box office. Do you think that makes a difference to your film, do you feel that will help the film?
I feel superstars are not depended on the film’s hit or flop status. They establish themselves into the heart of the audience but I do agree that Wanted doing well will add a certain advantage. However, having said that, it was never like a couple of Salman’s films not doing well meant that he was out of the race. Had it been that way then Wanted would not have taken such a grand opening. The success of Wanted suggests that Salman Khan was always loved by the people and whenever he comes with the right film, the audience will come in big numbers to watch it. But yes the success of a film always helps not only to a film but to the entire industry.
The Indian distribution rights of London Dreams has now gone to Raksha Entertainment while earlier it was with Studio18. Can you throw some light on the reasons behind this?
The economy went through a recession world over not only the entertainment industry or just India, but everywhere in the world. Lots of deals in the industry got re-negotiated. As far as Studio 18 is concerned, they went through their own internal problems and they are not acquiring new films. Besides that I don’t know the other details and I am in no position to comment on it but since I did not get any commitment from them on paper, we went ahead and gave the film to Raksha Entertainment.
The film industry saw a lot of corporates coming in but now we see a lot of producers going back to the old model of distribution. What is your take on that?
No industry can survive only on one model. If today corporates stop doing business, the film industry will not shut down. If everyone wants to take the advantage, then they have to find the model that works for them. If corporates want to be a part of the industry, they will have to do business, if they choose not to do so then the film trade has another model, which is the old model. So we’ve gone back to the old model. Whether it is the old distribution style or corporate style of functioning, ultimately if the industry feels both these styles are not working, we will find a third model. I don’t think that Indian cinema is ever going to stop so it’s upto everybody whether they want to be part of the business or not.
What is the difference you have seen in the industry in the last 3 years as far as production and distribution is concerned?
Production values are going up, there is transparency in distribution. Technically our films are now at par with anywhere in the world, though our VFX films are not so great because we don’t have the budgets. It’s not that we can’t produce that quality, it’s just that we don’t have those budgets to get that kind of quality.
Once the piracy issue is tackled and our distribution pattern is even more elaborate so that we can reach all over India on day one without piracy, I’m sure we’ll have enough money to make films at the level that Hollywood makes. Having said that, it might take us some years to reach there as the government is doing nothing to stop piracy.
You have a 2 film deal with Fox Star Studios India, could you tell us a bit more about it?
Yes, I do have a two film deal with Fox where I will be producing the films and Fox Star Studios India will be presenting it. We’ve got the scripts and directors in place but only once we get the cast in place, will we announce the project. Both the films will be completed by the end of 2010 and hopefully one of them will release in 2010 and the other in 2011.
What kind of budget has gone into the making of London Dreams?
Today there is no point in talking about budgets because everybody loves to quote Rs 100 crores and Rs 125 crores budget for their films. So whatever you say will be treated with a pinch of salt. People will not believe either the right figure or the wrong figure. All I can say is that this will be if not the most, one of the most expensive films in our film industry and I also hope it does that kind of business to justify that cost.
What are your expectations from London Dreams?
I feel this is the best work of my career so far and I am expecting it to get a lot of love and respect from people because for me success is one element but to get the love and respect from the audience is very important. I want London Dreams to give a message to the audience, which they can carry home, it should not be just a time pass entertainment, which they forget about once they are out of the theatre. We’ve tried something and I hope the audience receives it well and they love the film.