‘We need guaranteed profits & corporates don’t ensure that’ – Sajid Nadiadwala

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He’s riding high on the coup of his latest film Heyy Babyy, but refuses to bask in its glory. Instead he is gearing up to fork out better projects for the flaring and aggressive Indian film market.

 


If it’s a Sajid Nadiadwala film, it’s entertainment galore for three hours. Call it experience or plain strategy, but this is true of all his films, from Waqt Hamara Hain to this year’s smash hit Heyy Babyy.


 


Being in the business for years, Nadiadwala believes in making changes with time. With the market getting aggressive by the minute and the corporates stepping in, the independent producer has stiffened his plans.


 


Businessofcinema.com meets the triumphant filmmaker at his villa, where he gives us a lowdown on his films, newfangled business strategies, view on the predatory corporates and much more.


 


Excerpts:


 


You are one of the very few individual producers who have managed to survive the onslaught of the corporates in the Indian movie business and carve a niche for yourself. How easy or difficult has the journey been for you from Mujhse Shaadi Karogi till Heyy Babyy?


Our company has been active since my grandfather’s time… back in 1955. Though that time there were no corporates in the business, but a lot of people came in the 1960s and 70s. They made some six to eight films a year and spoiled the market.


 


This went on for quite a few years. But somehow that has not managed to break the original pillars of Bollywood, the culture or the meticulous planning.


 


Corporates are all across the globe, but the idea is to make good cinema. So anyone wanting to compete with these already existing filmmakers has to make good cinema, there is no other alternative.


 


Have there been offers from corporates for a tie-up or a merger? Would you open to it or would you prefer working the way you have been?


Usually we don’t get into partnerships. But yes, for distribution and exhibition we don’t mind striking deals with international companies like Sony Pictures and Eros International.


 


In terms of co-productions too, we are not avoiding them. If there is any kind of growth, there could be tie-ups with international studios for international reasons. When we are making a domesticated film like Heyy Babyy, we don’t need co-production.


 


Coming to corporates, the money is definitely very tempting. But we don’t look at money, we want the profit. Anybody can give you money and millions of dollars at that. We need guaranteed profits and corporates don’t ensure that.


 


What is your opinion of the corporates barraging in Bollywood and the huge amount of monetary deals that are being signed almost everyday?


I think they are fantastic. They are doing it in a more organized and systematic manner. But there’s this precipitation of buying and selling. Though they may buy the product at a wrong price or pay much more than it actually warranties; but over a period of time, things will fall in place.


 


Due to quantity, they would like to make films, which were not made earlier. Reason being, they need to have at least 10 to 15 releases a year. Moreover, a big film takes a lot of time and planning. Like an Om Shanti Om, Partner or Heyy Babyy, you need 40 to 50 creative minds working on a project. So a studio can come out with only three to four films, not more than that.


 


They may say they are working on 20 films, but they end up releasing not more than eight, out of which a few are slot ‘A’, rest slot ‘B’ and ‘C’, in terms of budget.


 


Do you think they are spoiling the actors, directors?


I believe the actors are paid what they deserve, no one pays them more than their worth. However there are one or two exceptions. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Indian audience is too much into actors; there is hardly anyone who wants to watch a movie without ‘stars’ in it. So they will take the money keeping their demand in mind.


 


Everything has changed 360 degrees; the business has increased by leaps and bounds. For one big film a year, they will rope in one big actor, but other than that, the prices are pretty normal. < Page Break >


You are known to give a break to new directors, be it Shirish Kunder or Sajid Khan. Is it because older directors are charging more money, or are most of them already bound by the corporates for bulk deals or are you looking at a creating new breed of directors?
All actors are available to me. From my grandfather’s time we have made films with stars, be it Rajesh Khanna, Shatrugan Sinha or Amitabh Bachchan. The question is that of stories; many are rehashed and told. But we reached a point of saturation.


We need to give a fresh perspective to the films. And that can happen, only if you get new directors on board. That is the only chance I took and it worked for me. Heyy Babyy did look different, may be some scenes would resemble some, which were made earlier, but it has been shot in a fresher way.


You literally invested more than Rs 120 crores on them; do you think it’s a risk?
The element of risk is certainly prevalent, that’s the reason for so many years we have restrained from this. As long as I know my job and till I am part of the circle, I am doing well. I am not the one who sits behind the monitors, but I should be aware of what’s happening.


I take my interest till the script is finalized and then it’s the director’s baby. I believe shooting is the easiest part of any film, so I don’t interfere during that process. Scripting is the most difficult. It’s all about story telling!


Tell us about your tie up with Fox Studio, Australia for Heyy Babyy. Was it a one-off thing or a long term relationship?


That time we were trying to work out some Australia based films and we had an office in Fox studio. Our base was there, so we were working out a tie up, but nothing materialized.


 


You have a three film deal with Eros International. Are you also looking at signing such deals with other corporates?


Not yet. If ever we are looking at a deal, it will only be with Eros. We have dealt with them earlier for Heyy Babyy and other projects.


 


You have been focusing on one film at a time, now that the market is getting aggressive with so many deals happening, are you looking at more than one film at one time?


I used to make a film and take a break for a year but I have stopped that now. Now I intend to make films back to back, not overlapping. There is a film with Saabir Khan, Sajid Khan and Siddharth Anand. Though I haven’t announced any films, the media does all the announcements on my behalf!


 


But three to four films are definitely in the pipeline. Kambaqt Ishq is the one which will be directed by Saabir. Siddharth is scripting his film right now and he also has a Yash Raj film to do. I have a film with David Dhawan too.< Page Break >


 


Are you signing Salman Khan for any of these projects?


Salman will be in one of these films. We are still working on that. He’ll pick on the one which he is comfortable with and he doesn’t take much time in deciding.


 


I don’t sign any of my actors. For that matter, even Akshay Kumar has not yet signed a contract for Kambaqt Ishq. Actors sign my film once it is complete.


 


What deals do you have with your directors?


I have a three film deal only with Saabir and Sajid.


 


Who’s been roped in for Kambaqt Ishq – Kareena Kapoor or Deepika Padukone?


We have signed Kareena and not Deepika.


 


Will it be a comedy or emotional drama, or a blend of both?


We’ll just have a push-in of emotions; I don’t like tear-jerkers. Additionally, there will be Hollywood actors in the film too. Though we haven’t zeroed in on any names, there will be eight to nine renowned faces. The film will go on floors in April or May.


 


Are you planning a sequel to any of your earlier films?


No. It was splashed all over the media. But neither I nor Sajid (Khan) have given this a thought.


 


Well, it must come from within and one must feel strongly about it. But that doesn’t mean I am anti or pro-sequels. Moreover it is also the director’s call. He is the one who should see some soul in the idea of a sequel.


 


The whole team along with the director should see some prospects of an extension of three hours; only then making a sequel makes sense. I have been very fortunate to deliver seven to eight hits in a row. I would say Judwaa had a different mass appeal, people wanted to see more of it.


 


What are your expansion plans?


Till the time I am enjoying this entertainment business, I will not take the company to the next level for the heck of it, calling it a change. Everything depends on numbers!


 


The aim is to get maximum reputed returns, not to make trash films; there should be some kind of a message. Even Heyy Babyy had something to say to the society. Today, I want to say that I will never go drastically different. My films will be a blend of comedy and emotional drama.


 


We are in the process of setting up our own studio now. This will be for both pre as well as post production, so that everything is under our control. Earlier my grandfather used to do all this, he owned theatres as well. Times have changed with the arrival of the multiplexes. There is no investment plan as of now; land cost is sky-rocketing! The idea is to move independently and not pile on to others.