Filmmaker Kabir Khan who for the first time in his career has two over-lapping films underproduction is appalled by the suggestion that his new Salman Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan is about ‘love jihad.’
Says Kabir angrily, “Everyone on the internet has an opinion these days. And a lot of opinions were expressed against my doing this film because it was supposedly about love jihad. First of all, I don’t understand what ‘love jihad’ is. So why and how would I be making a film on the theme? Secondly, even if I was I wouldn’t stop just because some people don’t like what I am doing.”
Kabir has in the past courted controversy and condemnation by doing hard-hitting politically-driven films like Kabul Express and New York.
He admits Bajrangi Bhaijaan is more in the commercial space than the raw real political films that Kabir Khan is identified with, “Salman has a staunch core audience. Films starring him have to adhere to the commercial language. So yeah, this one is my masala film, and I make no bones about it. This is a film with lip-sync songs and dancing. When I was writing the film I saw the characters singing. This hasn’t happened in my other films.”
There are no lip-sync songs in Kabir’s other film on release Phantom. “That is a more real raw and authentic film. Though Pritam has done the music there is no lip-sync song in Phantom. Saif and Katrina do not play characters whom I saw singing on screen”
Kabir is all praise for Saif, “Though he is known for his strong presence in sitcoms he has been brilliant in other genres, like Omkara. I think Saif is an optimum blend of star and actor. He tends to submerge his own personality in whatever character he plays.”
The two films will be released in 2015 within three months of one another.
Kabir admits he is nervous about the double bill next year. “This is two-and a-half years of my life. I’ve never done two over-lapping projects. But there was no choice. The date for the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan was locked in when the project came to me. It was planned as Salman’s 2015 Eid release. Phantom would’ve come much earlier than its current April 2015 release schedule. But the shooting got extended because Katrina’s previous film (Bang Bang) took longer than expected.”
Luckily for Kabir the two films are poles apart in theme content and intent.
Protests Kabir, “I won’t say Phantom and Bajrangi Bhaijaan are apart in intent-they’re both big-budget films-but yes, the content of the two is very different. Also, the treatment. Phantom is a politically-driven thriller, whereas Bajrangi Bhaijaan has a full-on masala mood to it, though I must admit this one too has a strong statement to make.”
Kabir hates using the word ‘message’ for his film. “It’s very pompous of any filmmaker to think he can tell audiences how to lead their lives. But yes, my films would always have a strong political and social context even when it is a masala product like Bajrangi Bhaijaan.”
The title seems to suggest a secular thought-process.
Kabir isn’t giving away the plot. “The title Bajrangi Bhaijaan is not random. It most certainly has relevance. The film is very pertinent to what is happening in the country today. At the same time it my most massy film to date.”