Kookie Gulati, who is thrilled that his debut film as a director Prince has received a good opening at the box office, tells Jyothi Venkatesh that he has imbibed the fun element of making a film from Ken Ghosh
How did your journey as a filmmaker begin?
I have been working with Tips for the last nine years. It has been testing waters for me. I started my career with the job of transferring the tapes of music videos for a channel in New Delhi. I came down to Mumbai when Tips offered me the job of making the music video for Jazzy B’s Surma. My journey as a director had begun with Tips. Directing a feature film was always at the back of my mind, even when I was making music videos for Tips. When I broached the idea of making a film for Tips to Kumar Taurani, he agreed to launch me as a director. Race was being made at that point of time. Shiraz Ahmed who is the writer of Race also agreed to write for me.
Was Vivek Oberoi the first and only choice?
To tell you the truth, I actually went to Ramesh Taurani with a couple of choices of actors, who can carry the amount of physicality and also act at the same time for the role of Prince which Vivek Oberoi has essayed in my film, but ultimately every thing fell into place only when Vivek Oberoi agreed to be a part of the project and I am glad he could pull of the project. I made it a point to ask Vivek to tone down and become quite agile, because he was quite bulky at that point of time. Vivek has done a great job because I feel that since the character is vulnerable per se, to constantly create a balance between vulnerability and confidence was quite tough but he could pull it off more than what I imagined he could.
To what extent, do you think music plays a vital role in Prince?
I am of the opinion that for an action film, music is more important. In recent times, the music of action films like Dhoom and Race has sold like hot cakes. What I liked the best about Kumar Taurani is that in spite of being the owner of a music company like Tips, he told me to put a song in my film only if I needed it, because he said he was making a movie and not a music album. Also Kumarji did not even hesitate for a moment when it came to sending me to Paris to meet Nicholas for the action sequences as well as editing of the film. Resool Pookutty made me work four months in advance.
What message have you set out to drive home through your film?
My film Prince is about the triumph of human spirit. It is like Ghajini, Brave Heart etc. Though my film is out and out an entertainer, at the same time, the subtle message that I set out to drive home through my film is that if you have the will you will definitely have the way too.
How did you zero in on a rank new actress like Aruna Shields?
When I was planning to make a music video, I surfed the net for actresses who I wanted to cast in the project to give it an International look. It was then that I stumbled on the pictures of Aruna Shields. I decided to cast her in the romantic lead opposite Vivek Oberoi because I needed a fresh new face which alone I felt could fit the bill in an action thriller like Prince. We decided to also cast actresses like Nandana Sen and Neeru Bajwa even though they have acted in some other films only because we wanted each girl in the film to have her own distinct character, since Prince is based on a story which happens in the period of six days.
Have you assisted any director earlier?
I have worked with director Ken Ghosh as an associate director in films like Ishq Vishq and Fida. In fact, I have imbibed the fun element of making a film from Ken. What I like about Ken is the way he treats his movies lightly. I used to be far more serious. It was Ken who tempered me. I learnt hugely from the way he works with his actors. I am making movies for the audiences. When the project started, I was the only weakest link of the movie, because people knew who Vivek, Nandana Sen, Neeru, Dilip Tahil and Aruna Shields were, whereas I was a rank new comer.
What according to you is the USP of Prince?
I can proudly state that there are not many action thriller films which belong to the genre of Prince in our country. As a maker I’d love to make a film like Titanic which had emotion, romance etc, besides a pacy backdrop with the thriller element. I have taken on the action thriller genre but not the special route like Abbas Mustan though they are one of my biggest inspirations as far as directors go.
Besides Abbas and Mustan, who else are your favorite directors?
Some times good directors too do not make good films. Don, Sholay etc impressed me. I liked Gadar and Lagaan but I would not say that I liked all the movies directed by Anil Sharma or Ashutosh Gowarikar. In the last three years, I liked movies like Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminaay, Raju Hirani’s 3 idiots, A.R. Murugadoss’s Ghajini and Prabhu Deva’s Wanted, though all of them belonged to different genres.
Do you also have plans to make a film which is not an action thriller?
Though it is true that I have always liked to watch action packed thrillers like Die Hard, Brave Heart etc and Surma was the first ever thriller concept as far as music videos were concerned, I now also have plans to make a love story but if I make it, my film will have my own stamp, because I will never make a love story the way Karan Johar sets out to make it.
- Jyothi Venkatesh / Sampurn Wire