‘I raise issues in my films without harming the entertainment value, which is a hallmark of good cinema’ – Raj Kumar Santoshi


    Some films make one ponder, some simply entertain. But there are some choosiest ones that combine both these essential elements of cinema and one director who is famed to dabble with this genre is Raj Kumar Santoshi.


    Erstwhile assistant to filmmaker Govind Nihalani, Santoshi made a remarkable debut with Ghayal, followed by memorable films like Damini, Andaz Apna Apna, Khakhee, Pukar, The Legend Of Bhagat Singh and more.


    If one notices, this director specializes in hard-hitting subjects and this time around he does the same with his next project Halla Bol (meaning attack) featuring Ajay Devgan.


    How powerful this attack on the box-office is, let’s check with the director himself.




    Time and again we have seen Ajay Devgan essaying characters where he fights injustice. So what made you cast him for a similar role in Halla Bol?

    I cast him mainly because he is a very good actor who can manage to get into any character very easily and comfortably. Secondly, we also happen to be good friends and share a good rapport.


    This particular role of a film star is a common man’s journey of struggle. The character has a lot of complexity and to bring it out comfortably and easily, I thought Ajay is the right actor. He has done it very successfully without going over the top. He is very instinctive. When you see the film from the audience point of view you will second my opinion.


    Can you elaborate on Vidya Balan’s role in the movie?

    Vidya plays a girl next door, who anybody can relate too. We wanted somebody who is unlike a star. Vidya’s personality is very simple. She looks natural even though she is a big star now.


    Halla Bol as you mentioned is about protest. Why did you choose to set it against the backdrop of the film industry?

    To make the story interesting! It could have been anything- a successful doctor, a lawyer, a businessman. But everybody admires a star. Today in India, the media peeks and grabs on to only two professions, that of a film star or a cricketer, rest nothing is left. So we had to choose between the two, and we opted for the former.

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    A lot of films are being woven around the film industry … say Om Shanti Om, Khoya Khoya Chand and now Halla Bol….

    Halla Bol is not a take on film industry. It is a drama which can happen with anybody.  It is just a story and the protagonist happens to be a film star.


    OSO is not a story of the film industry. It an incarnation story, again it is only the film industry as a backdrop which they have used.


    I think it’s only Khoya Khoya Chand hat is based on our film industry. It’s just a coincidence that all three films are more or less based the same backdrop.


    Why do most of your films incorporate a social message?

    Right from Ghayal and Damini my movies have conveyed strong messages. Whenever I start any new film project the first thing I want in my film is entertainment. I think it should be encouraging for a person to buy the ticket and see the film. All he comes for is entertainment; he is not coming to seek any advice from the film or to learn anything from the film.


    First and foremost, the format has to be scripted well and after that’s done, I raise questions or give a take on some issue without harming the entertainment value, which is a hallmark of a good cinema.


    Generally to depict a superstar on the screen one would cast an actor with chocolaty looks. Ajay Devgan’s looks are very unconventional.

    Ajay Devgan is a star, nobody can deny this fact. Yes he is not a conventional looking star and he doesn’t have that so called ‘chocolate boy’ image. But it is okay. Even Amitabh Bachchan was not a conventional looking man when he entered the industry, but he was a big star and he still is.


    I think if I would have cast a new comer, it would have been more difficult to convince the audiences that he is a superstar.

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    How far is true that you do not look beyond Devgan when you cast for your films?

    It’s because most of the subjects that we are working on fortunately have an element and quality where Ajay fits in.


    So what is that element and quality in Ajay Devgan?

    The vital element is that he sinks into any character. For example, Ashok which is our next project is about a character who is a dark skinned person with sharp eyes, unlike Alexandra or any other emperor. I think Ajay’s plus point is that he can get into both rural and urban characters very well with ease. Like in Omkara, he looked so natural in those costumes and never said ‘what is this?’ or ‘I don’t think this character is working for me.’


    What about working with Sunny Deol again?

    Unfortunately, we have not come across the right subject which can be the worthy successor of a three hit films we made in the past.


    When is Ashok going on floors? Who is cast opposite Ajay?

    By the end of February. Bipasha and Ajay are the main character while the rest all are theater actors.


    Have any visual effects studio been signed for either Ashok or Ramayan?

    I do not want to announce it just like that. Some talks are on with Hollywood professionals