Dinesh Vijan Exclusive Interview: “Imtiaz Ali Is A University In Himself For Love”

Mohnish Singh |Jul 30, 2019

Dinesh Vijan is one of the most successful producers at the present time in Bollywood. He has delivered several hit films in the past couple of years and boasts of an interesting lineup of movies for the year 2019 and 2020.

Dinesh Vijan is one of the most successful producers that Bollywood has seen in recent times. Over the past few years, he has produced a string of movies under his banner Maddock Films, including Badlapur (2015), Hindi Medium (2017), Stree (2018) and Luka Chuppi (2019). His films do not only garner critical acclaim but also go on to emerge as huge money-spinners at the box-office.

Recently, STARBIZ correspondent Mohnish Singh met Dinesh Vijan at a five star hotel in Mumbai and talked to him about the success of his films, comedy being an inherently important part of his stories, his rapport with all the directors he has launched over the years and whether or not he has any say in the casting of his movies. Excerpts...

354994 Dinesh Vijan
Image source: Asian Age

You as a producer have probably explored all kinds of comedy lately

Not every film that Maddock Films is making a comedy. While you are saying this, let me take a flashback. Arjun Patiala is releasing. Then we have a film called Made In China. The film has humor, but it is basically about the journey of an entrepreneur in Gujarat and how he goes to China and gets this idea. And there are two or three layers in the film. There will be a slight thriller also. There will be an entrepreneur’s journey also. There will be comedy also. So, that is Made In China.

Bala is a film which Amar Kaushik has directed. Niren Bhatt, who co-wrote Made In China, has written it. This film is not just about a bald guy and a dark girl. It deals with various other issues also. In India, we don’t have respect for other people’s weaknesses. We all have some kind of inferiority complex. Somebody does not like their nose. Others have issues with their weight. We feel that if somebody loves us, all our weaknesses will disappear. What we don’t realize is that until unless we don’t love ourselves, nobody’s love can make things okay for us. So, Bala is that. There is a much deeper layer to it but yet it has proper comedy.

Luka Chuppi 2 4
Image source: Bollywood Hungama

As a filmmaker, I believe that if you try to give a message which is perfectly blended with humor, people will enjoy it. I want them to go home and draw some points. Stree had an angle of feminism in it, but it was not in your face. When you go home and think, the theme comes in. Luka Chuppi had this whole thing that there are agendas made for different reasons, like political and societal.

Angrezi Medium is a father-daughter story which we wrapped up a few days ago. I feel the purest love that you have is between a parent and a child. It’s more than you love your spouse. It’s not reversible. The kid will never love his mother as much as the mother loves him. It deals with the whole aspiration of wanting to study abroad, which is happening. So, this film is again laterally different. Imtiaz Ali is doing a love story with us. Hopefully, we are going to call it Aaj Kal. That film talks about how love has changed in the last ten years. Imtiaz Ali is predominantly a university in himself for love. It will be nice to see that from Jab We Met to now, what he thinks has changed.

744572 Stree
Image source: ZEE News

So, every film that we are making has a different beat. We have Roohi-Afza going on, which is our second horror-comedy. It is very different, but again the legend is in Indian folklore. It’s a very strong script. It’s a part of the horror-comedy universe that we are trying to create, the third one is called Munja which will go on floors next year. And then these characters start crossing roads in their second respective parts and then they will all come together. So, I think the intent is to have unique stories but with comedy in it. Even Badlapur had a little bit of comedy in it. But it was a very dark film.

What is important for you as a filmmaker: critical acclaim or commercial success?

Both. Stree had both. Luka Chuppi almost had both. Hindi Medium had both. Badlapur had both. So, I feel box-office is very important because that is the audience’ acceptance. I would not give up on audience acceptance for anything. Critics are also not right all the time. There are times where critics have gone wrong and the audience has gone wrong too. The biggest example is Andaz Apna Apna (1994). I am predominantly making films for the audience. Let’s not forget that.

Saba Qamar And Irrfan Khan In Hindi Medium Movie W
Image source: Akkar Bakkar

Most of the directors launched by you seem to be doing much better work

I hope you are right. We will know now. I think all the directors that I have worked with are good people. I generally feel that it’s the right time for the right people. You must be interacting with a lot of people these days. Don’t you feel that the people you are meeting now are much nicer than you probably met ten years ago?

I feel like that. Also, I have no fear of giving new people a chance. Once I was also new. We launched a digital company and it’s called Outsider because we were all outsiders. I realize that there was a huge shift in the audience two and a half year ago with Hindi Medium, and now I am realizing there is going to be one more shift in another two years. At that point of time, the shift was to make stories that India was proud of and not be aspirational to the West. It actually started with Badlapur.

Is it difficult for you to juggle so many projects at the same time?

It’s not just me, there are several people working behind me. I am just the face. I have a strong writing team. I have such good directors. My job is to back them to make their best possible film. If you spend a good amount of time in writing, half of your job is done. What we do is that we spend half or one year on writing. Even we are ready with the script, we keep it aside and think about it with fresh perspectives. When your writing goes wrong, nobody can save you then.

I feel these new directors and actors like Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Diljit Dosanjh, Kriti Sanon, and Kartik Aaryan are so greedy for good stories. They want as much as you. I think the star is converting himself into an actor now.

You are producing films with full throttle. Is there any plan to foray into the digital space?

We are launching two shows next year. One is called Saas Bahu and Cocaine and the other one is called Substitute. Amar Kaushik is the showrunner for Substitute. As far as the platform on which they will be streamed is considered, we will figure that out later.

Do you have any say in the casting of your films?

Of course, I have. See, filmmaking is collaborative. I think my directors really have faith and trust in me and my opinion matters to them. It’s not interference. I back the director to make his best possible film. So, when the story is locked, we think who the best actor for it is. What is very important for us is that the actor loves that film very much. We don’t want anybody to do a film with us just because we are doing good films. He should love that content. Only if the marriage is correct, then we proceed further. If the director is very strong with music, I let him take care of the music department. The good part is that it’s a very constructive process. All the directors that I have worked are outsiders. They get their credit when they work with us. There is no insecurity in our company. I need them and they need me.


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