‘You can call me a dictator…’

Tell us something about Kahaani Hamaare Mahabharat Ki.I feel there’s too much hype around it. It’s scary. This is my interpretation on the revered epic and our first genre-defying attempt. We can’t afford to go wrong. Mythology sure is exciting!

What made you turn your attention to mythology?
We realised we couldn’t go on doing the same thing though soaps are our daal chawal at Balaji Telefilms and they’ll always be in demand, but we felt the need to move into different areas.

But why Mahabharat?
Because there’s a whole generation out there who hasn’t seen it. I wanted to give the epic a totally new feel. And I’m infusing new visuals and interpretation to Mahabharat. Although it’s a traditional subject it is full of state-of-the-art visuals and treatment.

Won’t you offend purists?
Let them first watch my Kahaani Hamaare Mahabharat Ki (KHMK), we’ll see about what they have to say later. For me, KHMK is the biggest challenge ever. Everyone is going to be shocked once the first visuals are out. Good, bad or ugly, this is my version of Mahabharat and once it starts, viewers can throw stones at me if they dislike it. I’m not treading on safe zone. I’ll take both, the bouquets and the brickbats.

Was it fair to replace Gautami Gadgil with Smriti Irani in Kyunki…?
I’ll make sure Gautami doesn’t get even one day off from Balaji. I’m giving her a vehicle that’s worthy of her. Getting back Smriti is like a double whammy. My new project with Gautami is a rare challenge for me at this stage of my career.

Is it a fiction?
I won’t say that. But it’s something totally new to me. I’m so happy Gautami is part of it.

How did Smriti Irani make a comeback in Kyunki…?
She started shooting again on April 6, which was a very auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. Smriti as extremely gracious about dancing at my first Global awards. And she refused to take money. It’s all about personal equations. When an actor works with Balaji you’ve to go by my rules. You can call me a dictator, or whatever else you like. I met Smriti again with an open mind and was ready to close discussions if the issues were not sorted out. Luckily Smriti was okay with most of our conditions.

Did the channel Star ask you to get Smriti back?
No channel has the guts to ask me for any actor. They never do it. They never will. When Smriti came to our office, I found that we were very comfortable with each other again. Looking back we realise there was a lot more to our relationship than Kyunki…

Would you say Smriti’s absence from the show made no difference?
I’d say she’s a very powerful performer. She gave Kyunki… a lot. When she wasn’t on the show, everybody missed her. But she made no difference to the ratings. People didn’t stop watching the show because of Smriti’s absence. The TRPs are decided by the content, not the actors.

Report By:Subhash K Jha

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