Wednesday, November 21, 2007

' I was shocked by Ta Ra Rum Pum's opening'

Interview conducted in May

Siddharth Anand is flustered by the industry and trade reactions to his film, Ta Ra Rum Pum, which released last month. His next will star Ranbir Kapoor

Ta Ra Rum Pum is nearing the 40 crore mark, that should make you happy?
I’m really happy but the media has not been supportive at all. They said the opening was dismal and declared it a flop on the very first day of its release.

But the opening was weak, wasn’t it?

I agree the opening was bad and initially, I was quite shocked. It disturbed me. But I saw that only the 12 o’clock show on Friday was weak. When I visited the theatres, I was assured that the collections would pick up by night and that is exactly what happened. At the end of the first week, its collections were the highest of this year. Yes, it’s higher than Guru.

Do you think the promotion of the film was wrong?

That’s what I’m told but again, there have so many films in the past, which had such huge promotions and yet they didn’t do well. But yes, we need to look into why our film opened badly, Once everything around TRRP settles down and the film is out of our system, we’ll have to sit down and see what went wrong with the promotion.
Why do you think the trade pulled down the film?

I guess they got an opportunity to pull down a Yash Raj film after a long time and they pounced on it. When they saw that the opening was weak, they immediately declared it a flop. But I think it is to the film’s credit that it sustained through the weeks and is nearing 40 crores. In fact, we are going to be coming up with ads tomorrow declaring a 75 gross worldwide. Ultimately, the industry and trade will have to eat their words.
Do you think there was a certain sense of disappointment over the film because it was coming after a blockbuster like Dhoom 2 from Yash Raj

But then, that’s an unfair comparison to make. Dhoom 2 had its own luxury and space. It was the sequel of a very big hit. The general assumption is that Yash Raj films do well only because of their banner. I think TRRP has broken that myth. If that were the case, my film would have opened big. Why didn’t it? The fact that the film got a weak opening and steadied itself in the subsequent weeks proves that it is doing well because it’s a good film.

Trade experts are still calling the film an ‘average’ grosser

(Smirks) Yeah, but what can I do? If they want to call a film that makes 40 crore net as average, I have nothing to say. They probably expected a 200 crore film from me then… that pushes me into another league altogether. TRRP is Saif’s (Ali Khan) biggest hit and will end up making twice as much as Salaam Namaste. For me, it’s a huge success. By the end of its run, it will have done mind-boggling business in cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
While the trade was unkind to the film, even the critics didn’t spare it…
Yes, that was surprising. Their whole trip was to find out the ‘source’ of the film. And once they found it, they were like… ‘We’ve nailed this film now’. Fine, you identify the source but then, judge it on its merit. The Departed, which was an adaptation of The Infernal Affairs, won two of the most important Academy awards. Critics here are very limited and shallow in their reviewing patterns.

The film was criticised for being synthetic…
See, I made the film I wanted to. And my target audience, which consisted of kids and families, has loved the film – which is exactly why all that animation etc was added. It’s the niche audience, which is nitpicking about the film. In any case, I didn’t make this film to find any kind of critical acclaim. I don’t make trends… I follow them. I have always said I’m a fan of Manmohan Desai’s brand of cinema.

But then, reviewers loved your last film, Salaam Namaste?

I know Salaam Namaste was a critics’ friendly film. In any case, reviewers love it when you make something different. With TRRP, I was just making a hard-core commercial film. I was just going back to my roots and I was aware of that. Ultimately, my film has proved that critics don’t matter and it’s the audience, which finally decides the destiny of any film.
But surely, you can’t be that nonchalant towards the critical side of your films?

The motive behind making TRRP was always to make money and we worked within that space. I don’t think any of my films are going to be remembered ten years from now and that’s fine. TRRP was a pure summer flick and we wanted it to be THE film of the season. We’re glad we achieved that.

So, what’s coming up next?

My next film should get rolling by the end of this year. I’ve already finished writing the script and am looking into the casting at the moment.

Is it Saif again?
No, It will be Ranbir Kapoor.
So you’ll be keenly watching the fate of Saawariya (Ranbir’s debut film)?

No, Ranbir is fantastic and it doesn’t matter how Saawariya fares. My script will not change.

Are you casting a new actress opposite him?
No, it will be someone established, though I haven’t decided on the name yet.
Finally, what are the lessons you’ll be taking from Ta Ra Rum Pum?

To make films from my heart…and not be bothered by what the trade and industry have to say. Only the audience counts.
-Sandhya Iyer


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