Rajkumar Hirani has made some of the best movies Bollywood has to offer in recent years. As a part of the ‘In conversation with director’ series at the 46th International Film Festival of India, Hirani spoke about his journey through the years and the quirks of his life that led to him making blockbusters. Vani Tripathi was his interviewer.
Hirani speaking about how he ended up being part of the industry credited the step to his low scores in school. “While in school I got into theatre and I began to act but then realised I was a terrible actor. There was an audition to get into a film school in Bombay, but it didn’t work out. Then I went to FTII and I wanted to apply for the direction course, but there were only eight seats, so someone told me to apply for editing instead as there would be lesser people applying for the course. That was my blessing in disguise,” said Hirani.
Speaking about editing, Hirani said that a film is really made on two tables – the writer’s and the editor’s. “The editor is an unsung hero. The audience will never know what kind of material he has to work with. He is the one who cuts the movie and rearranges the scenes working with the director to see how to evoke some emotions even in a mundane scene,” said Hirani. He also said that he owes being a better director to his alma mater and education in editing.
About the shift from a 30-second ad film to a two-hour feature film, Hirani says the shift is not a very drastic one as it all comes down to storytelling. “Everything is about storytelling. You learn how to tell a story. When I got into films I felt that the storytelling of an ad film was very fast, so I had to slow down my thoughts for a feature film,” said Hirani.
On about his journey in filmmaking being a collaborative one, Hirani said: “I always wanted to make a film but I got a break with editing Mission Kashmir. I started making ad films in the five months I edited the movie. I enjoyed working on Mission Kashmir because I was working with people who were very passionate about their work. By then I had the idea of Munnabhai MBBS in mind. I worked on it for eight months. Initially I wanted to cast Anil Kapoor, but when I spoke to Vidhu Vinod Chopra, he wanted to see the script. Once I worked on the script, it all fell into place with the replacing of the central character. Thus my journey has been that of collaboration. Cinema itself is collaboration.”
While working on the script for MBBS Hirani had changed the story line over and over again. “Initially it was a hard hitting satire on the medical profession, but then I toned it down. Later the crux of the film became ‘if you don’t have compassion, don’t become doctors’,” he said.
About his current projects, he spoke about the biopic he is working on. “I am working on a biopic on Sanjay Dutt’s life. It’s not a story that propagates him. It’s an engaging story with a lot of dimensions. Ranbir is to play the lead role. I thought he was the best person as he knows Sanju well and he understands what it is like to grow in a family with a film background.”