How is the feeling of debuting as a director with one of the biggest film franchises starring the biggest superstar?
It's an amazing feeling to be a part of this franchise and to be directing one of the biggest stars in the country. I am mindful of Salman's legacy so we've been cautiously and meticulously planning this film. And now that the film is ready for release, I hope the audience enjoys the film.
Dabangg of course was directed by Abhinav Kashyap who was even supposed to do the sequel, what exactly went wrong and how did you come on board as director?
Abhinav was supposed to direct the sequel and we did meet up discussing how we would like the sequel to be. Unfortunately after a couple of meetings he decided to opt out of the film for whatever personal reasons. I accepted his decision and moved on. After a lot of deliberation as to who would be the right choice to direct the film, I came to the conclusion that since I'd been involved with Dabangg as a producer and actor right since Day 1, it would be apt that I take over the project. Moreover I was always nursing this silent ambition to turn director, so when this opportunity came my way I grabbed it with both hands.
How much has the character of Chulbul Pandey changed from the earlier film?
Dabangg 2 is a genuine sequel so we are moving ahead with the character and taking the story forward. Predominantly the character of Chulbul Pandey remains the same but the situations he finds himself in this film are different. There are new conflicts and new challenges that he has to tackle. So in that sense there is a lot of freshness in the film.
Salman is a fantastic actor and is only growing from strength to strength. He has done so many films in his career already and is now very comfortable with his own demeanor and body language. He's got a great connect with the audience. He is a very contributing actor who always has some really good inputs and suggestions to offer for the betterment of the film. He is constantly innovating and re-discovering himself as an actor. He keeps bringing in small nuances and improvisations to his character which is great.
You guys launched Sonakshi Sinha in Dabangg and now she has become a big star in her own right. How was it once again working with her in Dabangg 2?
Sonakshi's been fantastic. She has been a huge asset to the Dabangg family. There is a huge section of the audience that loves her immensely. Since her first film Dabangg, she has matured as an actor and grown tremendously in confidence.
What about your character Makkhan Pandey? Do we get to see more of him in Dabangg 2 as well?
Yes…my character is very much there in the film but since the story has moved forward, my character has also evolved and you now see him in a different scenario. He's got an interesting part to play in the film (smiles).
Dabangg 2 has Prakash Raj as the main villain. Could you tell us more about his character?
Prakash Raj plays a goon trying to get legit politically. The only thing that matters to him is where he wants to reach as far as his goals are concerned. He is very ruthless and headstrong. And nothing can come in his way of achieving his goals. So when Salman's character Chulbul Pandey comes to his town, there is a conflict between them which is something to watch out for.
The music of Dabangg 2 sounds very similar to the music of Dabangg. Was it a conscious and deliberate decision?
See…Dabangg 2 cannot have songs which are completely in a different space and zone as compared to Dabangg. It's a sequel after all and the characters are the same. There has to be some common thread binding the music of the two films. There is a certain andaaz in which Chulbul romances Rajjo which is evident in 'Tere Mast Mast Do Nain' or 'Dagabaaz Re'. You can't completely go out of the zone and try something different when you have the same characters. I mean you can't have Chulbul Pandey all of a sudden singing like a rockstar on the streets of London. That would look so bizarre and you would completely lose the connect. So yes there will be people who will feel that the music is similar but yet each of our songs are fresh in their own way. Dabangg had iconic music and if we had tried something totally different in Dabangg 2, we would have fallen flat on our face. I am glad that the music is being appreciated and the songs are working.
How was it shooting the 'Fevicol Se' song with Kareena Kapoor?
Kareena has been such a joy to work with. She is a thorough professional and has contributed so much to the song. I was very happy from the moment she agreed to be a part of the song. She's given it her all. Today the results are there for all to see. The song is very popular and Kareena is looking fab and has danced brilliantly. We already had an iconic song called 'Munni Badnaam' in Dabangg so to come up with something that's as good if not better was always going to be a challenge. I am happy that 'Fevicol Se' has been liked tremendously.
Finally a lot of people feel Dabangg 2 can smash all B.O. records and enter the 200 crore club. What do you have to say about that?
We are hopeful and if all goes well it should happen. We are looking forward to a film that the audience appreciates and enjoys and if that happens we might even supersede those numbers