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|August 30, 2001||
Steven Spielberg once said, "The most expensive habit in the world ain't cocaine. It's celluloid".
Ask our actors and they'll agree. The entire actor fraternity admits to needing their daily fixes. And no, we are not talking about Fardeen Khan.
We are talking about actors who want to do it all -- sing, dance, romance, act, direct, produce, run corporate houses... you name it!
An actor turning producer was a big no-no till some time back.
Shah Rukh Khan burnt his fingers with Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. Sunny Deol lost pots of money on Dillagi. Ajay Devgan incurred heavy losses after his dream production Raju Chacha turned out to be a big disaster. Jackie Shroff made an inauspicious start with the ill-fated and prolonged Grahan.
Sanjay Dutt announced his first production venture Chakra with great fanfare. Only to shelve it in a few months. Says the actor, "I don't think it's a good idea for actors to turn producers. I don't think they can handle it because actors are basically emotional people.
"They can't handle the business aspect. I had to shelve Chakra, which I had launched a few years ago. I tried to be a producer but I couldn't handle it. Especially, the day-to-day accounts part.
"But now I'm very close to my workers. Whatever I eat, they eat. I don't like discrimination on that front. But it doesn't work like that. In production, you have to cut costs. You have to be very money minded. I can't be like that.
"Once I saw the workers eating the food that was being served, I threw a fit. I felt that I don't care about my money, but from the next time, they should eat what I eat! It really broke my heart! And to top it all, the film's subject was also not shaping well. So I decided to forget it. I don't think I want to get into it. Maybe, after a few years. Not now."
On the other hand, Jackie Shroff who survived the Grahan nightmare is a very positive. "What happened with Grahan was very unfortunate. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop producing.
"My wife (Ayesha) is looking into the details. She did a good job with Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai. The film made money. So it's just a matter of time. Things should work for JSEL (Jackie Shroff Entertainment Limited). I have my fingers crossed!
"We are producing two films now. One film will be handled by Ayesha. It's called Sandhya and it stars Raveena Tandon and me. Sangeet Sivan will be directing it. The details for the second film are still being worked out. I'll make the announcement soon."
Ajay Devgan who has lost crores, thanks to Raju Chacha, maintains that there is no harm in actors turning producers.
"If your product is good, everything will work out. Believe me, that's the bottom line. I still stand by Raju Chacha. It's unfortunate that it didn't do well. But that doesn't mean I'll stop production. I'll continue making the kind of films I want to make," says a convinced Ajay.
Then there is the business savvy Sunil Shetty who has devised his own formula for success in the production field.
"My project should roll in some time. I'm a smart businessman. Earlier, when I thought of getting into production, I decided I wouldn't star in it. I wanted to sign on Salman Khan.
But now that I have my own company Popcorn Entertainment, I can't do that. We have worked out the details of our first project. E Niwas will be directing the film. I'm starring in it because the subject suits me. I'll be on the sets all the time. And I'll make sure things go smoothly."
He also concedes that Lagaan has changed the face of filmmaking. "I was blown when I saw Lagaan. Full marks to Aamir for producing such a brilliant film. After I saw the film, I realised that filmmaking has undergone a complete facelift. Your product has to be extremely good or you have no business being there."
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani hasn't dampened Shah Rukh Khan's spirits, as he gets ready for his next magnum opus, Asoka. The preview circuits are buzzing with positive reports. Asoka will be Shah Rukh's answer to Aamir's Lagaan. In fact, the film has already been selected for the prestigious Venice film festival.
Ask the Khan about it and he grins, "Wait and watch!"
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