Director R. Balki is known for his unconventional films and great script. As his next movie 'Shamitabh' is up for a release on February 6, Balki settles down for a quick chat about his movie, working with Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush replacing Shah Rukh Khan and much more. Read onâ€¦
Shah Rukh Khan was first approached for Dhanush's role. Why didn't that materialize?
Every film has its own destiny. While we may think somebody is right for a part, we realize that maybe it's not meant for that person. Nobody will say no to something that excites them. We had a lot of discussion about it. Every film has its own way of finding its own path till I found Dhanush.
What made you cast Dhanush?
For exactly the opposite reason of everything I first thought with Shah Rukh. I went to Shah Rukh first because I needed the most incredible performer. This film could have worked in two ways, a superstar's voice on a superstar or a superstar's voice on a fantastic performer who wants to be a superstar. For the audience it was going to be a look at the magic of Mr. Bachchan's voice in Shah Rukh v/s who is this man with Mr. Bachchan's voice. Currently, Dhanush is the superstar of the south but he is definitely going to be a very huge star in the Hindi film industry. He has got the power of a superstar. That is why I was struggling between the two. It was a creative decision finally. It was destined that Dhanush be the choice, and he's the right one.
Mr. Bachchan has been a part of all your films. What is your special connection with him? Do you write the role with him in mind specifically?
The roles are not tailor-made, but they are inspired by him. I think Amitabh Bachchan is bigger than any character that was created for him. Even Auro was created keeping in mind how Amitabh Bachchan would behave as a 15 year old child. People have a certain image about Amitabh in their minds. The trick is to cash in on that image and portray it like nobody has before. Like I keep saying, Amitabh Bachchan is a heritage monument. He's like the Taj Mahal, the most integral part of India. He is the identity of India.
What sort of a relationship do you share with Mr. Bachchan?
Like a lot of people, I am a fan. We co-create a lot of things together because we have very little ego. We fight a lot, argue a lot, discuss a lot and agree a lot. So we get the work done faster because we don't intellectualize something for long. We understand each other well.
The music of the film is quite unconventional. Can you tell us something about it?
That is Illaiyaraja, he is so original. He likes to create something unique in each situation. He is a very film savvy music director. Each one of his thousand films, right from the background score to the songs, all done by him. He knows filmmaking like nobody else.
How did you convince Mr. Bachchan to sing a song like Piddly Si Baatein?
I told him it's a part of the script. He didn't hesitate.
Amitabh is a Bollywood superstar, Dhanush is the south superstar. Why did you cast Akshara Haasan, a debutante?
I saw her outside an advertising studio in Mumbai. She was standing there waiting for someone. I was very intrigued by her look. She has an interesting face and at the time she had short blue hair. So I had an idea for 'Shamitabh' that this is the girl I want to cast. I didn't know who she was back then. I discovered later that she was Akshara Haasan. Without asking her, I wrote the whole script with her face in my mind. After I wrote the script, I asked her if she would act in the film as she had never faced the camera before and she agreed. 'Shamitabh' is a three-hero film, not two.
You started your journey as an ad-maker and now you've made a successful career in film-making. How has your journey been?
If a person makes a film once in 5 years it can't be called a career. You just try something different and hope it will work. I always work with the economics in mind. It's not like I make low budget films, they are decent budget films. But I can't make extravagant films keeping in mind the subjects I chose. So if you are careful about economics, then you can continue making films.
Any future projects?
Not yet, I am too tired right now.