Chetan Bhagat is a popular writer who has seen much success with adaptations of his books, one of which released in February – ‘2 States’ (2014). Bhagat has written the screenplay for the first time for Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez starrer ‘Kick’ which releases on 25th July. BizAsia had an opportunity to speak to Bhagat about his experiences and he shared his excitement about the film ahead of its release.
Firstly, congratulations on the success of ‘2 States’. What was the feeling like when audiences gave the film so much appreciation?
I was very nervous, it’s such a popular book and a personal story. I just thought if the makers had messed it up then there won’t be another chance to put the story out there but now I can proudly keep the DVD to show to me grandkids. I went and saw the movie with the audiences several times and I saw them get very emotional towards the end, when the girl and boy are getting married. I think it was a job done went and the box office was also very good.
What are your hopes for ‘Kick’?
Well, I think my hopes are to measure up to Salman Khan’s fans’ expectations really. It’s an out-and-out Salman Khan movie and there is a lot of buzz about it. We will get Salman fans walking in the door and watching the movie but we just need to make sure that they are happy. We don’t want them to feel as if we’ve let them down or their star down.
You’ve jointly written the screenplay of ‘Kick’, what was that like?
That was the key difference as opposed to writing it alone. You know, writing a book can get very lonely and sometimes I miss having colleagues. Doing a screenplay allows that; you become part of a team and a project and there are many people involved. You also work with other writers. Sometimes it can slow things down because you have to have everybody on board and get everyone’s consensus but overall I think it’s a different experience especially for a movie like ‘Kick’. It’s very different to other films that have come out of my books; this is a star vehicle. It was a different and a good experience. It expands my range as a writer.
The first promos of ‘Kick’ were compared to movies like ‘Dhoom 3’ (2013), ‘Krrish 3’ (2013) and also some Hollywood movies. What, in your opinion, is unique about ‘Kick’?
On a script level, I don’t think it has any similarity to any other movie. I think the unique thing about ‘Kick’ is that it’s a good mix of relationships and action. Salman is known for two things – his action, his dabangg kind of persona and his ‘Prem’ persona. I think ‘Kick’ is both. I tried to make sure it has both.
As a writer, you may have seen an evolution of the audience but as a filmmaker or screenplay writer, would you say the audiences are still evolving?
It sounds a little elitist that the audiences are evolving but they are developing a taste for different kind of cinema. They are used to a certain kind of cinema and go to the cinema for a particular need and that is to escape and have a good time. I think that is changing now. People have more disposable income and they’re now not just having a drink to get drunk. They’re now appreciating the flavour and texture and maybe savouring it a little more. Earlier they just wanted value for money and looked for a movie to give everything in two and half hours. I think audiences are becoming a little more discerning and have money to watch films which are a little different.
How about when you were growing up, did you always have Bollywood dreams?
No I didn’t. I was studying engineering and I remember skipping college to watch Salman’s movie ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. I had a crush on Bhagyashree. It’s super embarrassing to admit now but even wearing those caps with ‘Friend’ written on them (laughs). It was a different era; something that happened in the past. Life just tranforms and now I’m writing for a sar who has the biggest fan following for sure. It’s quite an experience but I never thought it would happen. I’m trying to do my best. It allows me to reach a new audience and that, for me, is the biggest high. That’s why I did the film.
What is more creatively satisfying for you – write a book or write a film?
Books – definitely. This is a good experience and I’ve had many offers after ‘Kick’ but I don’t have the time because I’m actually just finishing a book. I was working on that and it will come in October. Books are what define me and what have given me a fan following. It is my identity so, at least for now, I don’t see myself going to write screenplay over books. I would much rather do a book.
Does that mean we won’t see you directing anytime soon?
I really don’t know. The only person who has said I should direct is Mr Sajid Nadiadwala himself. It’s not something I rule out but not something I’m focussing on at the moment.
There’s been a lot of speculation about another of your books, ‘Revolution 2020’, being made into a film. Can you clarify whether this is true and do you have an ideal cast in mind?
It is hopefully going to get made because Disney UTV have bought the rights for it. They made my other book adaptations – ‘Kai Po Che’, ‘2 States’ and they’re doing ‘Kick’ too. We have interest from many actors but because I’ve been busy with my new book and ‘Kick’, I’ve not really been in a rush. It’s been a busy year for me. I also want to pace myself as there’s no hurry – the news will keep coming.
What do you want the audiences to take away from ‘Kick’?
After watching the film, reflect for five minutes and think about what is your kick in life and then give it some value.
BizAsia thanks Chetan Bhagat for taking the time to talk to us. ‘Kick’ is directed and produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and also stars Randeep Hooda.
Stay with BizAsia for all the box office latest about ‘Kick’ and our review of the film.