Interview: Anees Bazmee explains why 'desi' movies work and criterion for blockbuster

Interview: Director Anees Bazmee talks about Mubarakan, Aankhen 2, No Entry 2 and why it is important to make films close to the desi reality

Anees Bazmee, one of the most successful Hindi film directors, is gearing up for the release of Mubarakan. Known for comic capers like No Entry, Welcome, Singh Is Kinng and Ready among many more, the director believes that making a comedy is a very serious business.

Bazmee believes that the reason for the downfall in the comic genre over the years has happened because there aren’t many in the industry who can write down a good comedy script. Ahead of the Mubarakan release, the director spoke to InUth about the film, his struggle and the challenges of directing a good comedy film. Excerpts:

You have written more than 20 films before becoming a director. Do you believe that it becomes easier to direct a film after working on so many films as a writer?
To be honest, I never wanted to become a writer. When you want to be an actor, you can get work based on your portfolio, when you want to be a singer, you can get work by singing live but what can you flaunt in order to be a director? Why would the producer put his money on you? In those days, you could be a director only if you were friends with an established star and I didn’t have any friend in this industry since I was an outsider. That’s when I realised that the short cuts won’t work for me and I would have to take the longer route. To be a director, I started writing films. I thought after writing 4 to 5 films, I could get into direction but films like Raja Babu, Bol Radha Bol, Shola Aur Shabnam among others turned to be such big hits that my directors wanted me to keep writing films for them. So I wrote around 30 to 35 films before making a debut in this industry as a director. In fact, a director friend of mine gave me a list of 137 writers who aspired to be a director but failed miserably. But still, I wanted to take up direction and the rest is history.

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Since you have directed and written so many comedy films, does it become difficult to come up with gags in the script?
I think it is difficult to write a comedy film. When a comedy film isn’t well written, it gets difficult for the actors to get the comic timing right. They need to go out of the way to make people laugh and I was clear ever since my debut that I wouldn’t use the physical moments to make people laugh; the comedy in my films should always come organically in the screenplay. The only thing I tell my actors on the sets is ‘Sir, don’t try to be funny. All you need to do is to act, as the script and situation would make people laugh.’ If you see the climax of No Entry, it is a very serious scene as three people are about to die, but the situation makes you laugh. As a writer, it is a challenge to come up with innovative ideas every now and then. You can’t show anything in the name of comedy as you can’t fool the audiences.

Why do you think that the number of comedy films made in this industry has reduced by a considerable margin?
It is very difficult to make people laugh and the most important aspect of a comedy film is writing. It is far easy to make a love story, family drama and a thriller as compared to a comedy. People in today’s time don’t laugh easily. I think when you, as a director, succeeds to make someone laugh, it is indeed a good deed. Coming to your question, I think we don’t see comedies made very often because there aren’t enough writers in the country to pen-down a comedy film. The directors are dependent on writers and when a script fails to make the directors laugh, they will, but obvious, not make a film on that script. But if as a director, I come across an interesting comedy script, I would love to direct it.

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Do you think the writers in today’s time are influenced by the international cinema?
Absolutely. I personally feel there is a lot of problem in this industry because many are trying to make cool films in an attempt to cater to the youth of our country. The biggest hits in last five years are all ‘Desi films’ but the other films aren’t succeeding at that level because the youth are exposed to international cinema. So, when you, as a writer, are trying to copy the kind of cinema made abroad, the youth won’t watch it because they have watched something better in the same space. I think as a writer, you can get inspired by international cinema, but it isn’t correct to copy it completely. Camera, special effects, sets, costumes have to change with the changing times. But if the basic story is also inspired from the west, I feel there is a huge problem. The writers today don’t get enough money and respect because every person on the set today feels that he is a writer. To make a good film, you need three things: script, script, and script. The script is the soul of a film and irrespective of how beautiful the body is, it is pointless if it doesn’t have a soul.

Anees Baznee and Anil Kapoor

Anees Bazmee and Anil Kapoor


How confident are you about Mubarakan?
Whenever I direct a film, I believe it would do very well. I am a very positive person and I want all my films to do well. I consider myself as an audience and I would take up a script only if it makes me laugh. I often look at things from the audience’s point of view and getting unwanted reactions from the audience is a nightmare for me. I often plan the scenes wherein I wanted a certain kind of reaction from the audience and so far, touch-wood, I have more often than not got the kind of reactions I expected.

What is the status of Aankhen 2?
I worked on the script of Aankhen 2 for around a year and it is a film very close to my heart. I believe it is a very good script and I am very excited to explore a new genre. It is a combination of action, comedy, romance, and thrill. We will start shooting for the film soon.

Also read: Interview: Arjun Kapoor on the dearth of good comedies in Bollywood and what is Mubarakan’s USP

You are one of the most successful directors in the country. But, there have been times when films like No Problem, Thank You didn’t do well. How do you react when your film fails?
Did I direct those films? Really? (Laughs). Actually, I forget all my flop films. You can never predict the Box Office aspect of a film but like I said, my attempt is to a make a good successful film. When I made No Entry, I was always confident that it would make people laugh, but I never knew it would gain a cult status over the years. All big directors have failed, so when you cater to a larger section of the audience, your responsibility as a filmmaker increases. I make films for all section of the audience right from Punjab to London. Yes, there have been occasions when I failed but the failure taught me a lot. When I watch No Problem and Thank You today, I realise ‘where did I go wrong’. So, I am very sure that I shouldn’t repeat the mistakes I made in the films that flopped.

Mubarakan releases on July 28.