Rohit Shetty explores his formula and talks about why Dilwale is different from DDLJ
Rohit Shetty, son of fight master Shetty, began his career in cinema in 1990, at the age of 17. He learned the ropes as an assistant director on Phool Aur Kaante, Ajay Devgn’s debut film. Thirteen years later Devgn starred in Rohit Shetty’s directorial debut, Zameen. The duo worked again in a number of films helmed by Shetty — Singham, Bol Bachchan and Singham Returns. Comedy and action being his forte, he combined both in 2013 for Chennai Express with Shah Rukh Khan. The union has now been repeated with Dilwale, which releases on December 18. Excerpts from an interview with the director envied for having the elusive hit formula.
Don’t you get tired of the formula your films seem to follow?
A lot of hard work goes into making cars fly and designing the action scenes. The sad part is that in our country hard work and commercial cinema does not get acknowledged. When I am writing or making or editing a film, I am always getting into the psychology of the audience: they are buying a ticket and entering the theatre; they are coming for Shah Rukh and Kajol; they are coming for action, for romance and comedy — am I giving them everything or not? I try to work for the audience and they love what I do, so I keep doing it. Cinema may be changing but the cinema going audience is the same. I observe people, their mentality, and what kind of cinema they want to see. That is my homework.
People are curious whether you are trying to recapture the magic of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) with Shah Rukh and Kajol in Dilwale.
My film does not have a DDLJ hangover. If anything, why isn’t anyone talking about My Name is Khan, which was their last film together? Dilwale was always the title of the film, Shah Rukh was always in the film but Kajol came much later.
You have worked with Ajay and Shah Rukh. What about others?
It depends on the script. We finalise the script, then we cast. I would like to work with everyone – Aliaa (Bhatt), Ranbir (Kapoor), Ranveer (Singh).
Do you have time to watch movies?
I watch every film when it releases on DVD. If you ask me, the best film of this year is Piku. I also liked Badlapur and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. I thought Aankhon Dekhi was a nice film, but I would have liked a happier ending. I even watch Tamil, Telugu, English, everything.
Dilwale releases on December 18.
— Udita Jhunjhunwala