In most peoples eyes Kunal Kohli's film Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic is his fourth film as a director but for the ones who are not aware, it also marks the start of his third career, from being a t.v presenter and a film director he now turns producer, but to him it's a continuation of what he's been doing all along: storytelling. Trying to cope up with his post production and a battery-running-down mobile , Bollywood Hungama's Devansh Patel manages to finish this candid interview just in time with Kunal Kohli where he talks about his next big release, his new found fondness with his blog and a special mesage for his U.K audiences.
With the recent debacle of YRF's Tashan, do you think it's time they desperately needed Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic?
The audience is very mature. They know that this is not Yash Raj's next after Tashan, this is Yash Raj's and Kunal Kohli's next after Fanaa. They are different films by different people with completely different audience.
Why was the tilte Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic incorporated so late?
I was looking for a title that said a little more, that spoke about the film but could also be the catch phrase about life because I would like to believe that my film says things that have impact and relevance in our day to day life. I think that's what's important and that's why I went for this title. Yes, it did take me some time but I'm happy with it. When something is going wrong in someone's life, I'd like someone to say, I need Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic. The title not only describes the film but also our lives.
What made you cast Saif and Rani in this film? Or did you decide to cast them on the basis of the success of Hum Tum?
I did not look at only the success of Hum Tum for casting them, They both suited the characters very well and whenever both of them have done roles out of what they have done before, that is when they have excelled in their careers. When Rani does a Hum Tum, KANK, Black or Chalte Chalte, and when Saif does Dil Chahta Hai, Parineeta, Omkara, Race, etc. He has played different characters and have excelled in that. So when you throw a challenge to such actors of performing something that they've not perfomred before, they give you something special and that's what both Saif and Rani have given me in this film.
The songs of TPTM aren't picking up as they should have, might be because of IPL. But having said that, do you think it will pick up after the release of the film?
Unfortunately, I get a very honest feedback from people. I think who ever has heard the music have really loved it. Three songs have really connected well with the audience, Pyaar Ke Liye, Nihaal Ho Gayi and Lazy Lamhe, and I think that the IPL played a huge part because the entire focus of the entertainment industry was on the IPL. Now that it's over, let's see what happens. I remember that when Fanaa released, the songs did not pick up instantly but eventually it became a musical hit. Fortunately for me, both Fanaa and Hum Tum did musically well. So the expectations are very high from the Prasoon Joshi - Kunal Kohli team. Even if you see Taare Zameen Par, Prasoon Joshi lyrics do take a bit of time to grow and before you know it, it's in your system. I'm very confident that Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic's music will also take it's time to grow. Even the ringtones of TPTM aren't out at the moment. That too makes a difference.
In your previous venture with Saif-Rani in Hum Tum, you had a music video by UK's Juggy D, Veronica and Rishi Rich who gave you an instant hit number 'Mere Dil Vich'. Didn't you think of re-uniting with the band for TPTM?
This film does not require such kind of a marketing strategy. Every film has a different way of marketing. Hum Tum was one of the first films to have a music video and a song which wasn't included in the film. That created a bit of a cult thing and post Hum Tum, every film started having music videos to promote their movie. What I needed more in TPTM was a song like 'Pyaar Ke Liye' which would be my theme song for the film and will be promoted more. I don't believe that what worked before will work this time.
How difficult was it to cast the four kids in the film? And did your story require a Sikh boy or was it done in good humor?
It was very difficult. We screen tested about 300 kids and the problem I had was that because the film was set in Delhi, I needed the kids to have a strong North Indian accent. So we found all four of them in Delhi after auditions. I'm glad that you mentioned the Sikh connection in this film because the boy who plays the role of a Sardarji is actually a Punjabi boy. When you see the film you'll know why one of them is a Sikh and the others are not. He looks so natural that everybody on the sets thought that he was a Sikh boy.
Do you think that the overseas certification system for your particular film which I assume that it would be a PG or a 12 certificate, will help you tremendously as far as profits are concerned?
I never make a film keeping distribution in mind. If a PG certification makes a distributor feel that he has won the battle, good for them, but I don't like to give my films a particular genre and that's the reason I have never made films of a different genre. Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Hum Tum, Fanaa and TPTM are all different genre films, different settings, different worlds, etc. But as a director / producer, I'd definitely want my film to do well commercially which I think anybody would, afterall, that's our bread and butter.
You've recently turned blogger. So now even the common man can have access to you and can interview you. What say?
(laughs). I think it's not bad for the media. Before blogs came out, I used to write articles in the newspapers and magazines like The Times of India and India Today. And before plunging into films, I used to be a film journalist. So, I've always liked writing and commenting on things other than films also. If you read my last blog, it was about the blast that happened and it was not about promoting my film. I am thrilled that I have turned a blogger and can stay in touch with my audience. I don't have a fan base though because I am not an actor. I get very interesting comments - serious, funny, suggestive and accurate sometimes. Through my blog, I've learnt that there is a collective strength that the audience has and one must respect that. I like reading other peoples blogs too like Mr Bachchan's and Aamir's blog.
After having worked with Saif-Rani for the second time, what growth have you seen in both post Hum Tum?
Tremendous growth, and it's very difficult to measure it. In TPTM both have surpassed their previous performances. They have matured as actors. Hum Tum was a sort of a turning point in my career and Saifs too. I wouldn't say Rani's because she was established through films like Saathiya and Chalte Chalte before Hum Tum. But it was a turning point for Rani in one way - She got her first award as a best actress for Hum Tum. I'd say that our fortunes turned with Hum Tum. And all three of us got more success. In TPTM, we had more respect for each other as our craft was more polished now.
Any happy or sad moment you can recall while filming TPTM?
There was a certain bond and closeness that developed between the entire unit. That's something you strive for as a film maker. That just happened in this film. When we had the last day of shooting with the kids, and when they finished their shot and the announcement was made that that it was the film wrap for the kids, one of the kids started crying. He went around hugging everybody on the sets. It was like a vaccum on the sets when the kids left. The ones who were thrown into the film unit and had no idea of what the crew were like, suddenly get close to everybody. The entire set had teary eyes when that boy started crying. It was such an emotinal moment and I wouldn't call it sad, but happy.
You've judged so many reality shows on the television, don't you think that there is bundle of talent which the film makers are missing out on and there's much more to tap into than just the star kids?
Of course yes. If you see all the four kids in my film, they are all new comers with new talent and something for us to learn. That's what's important and we have to keep on discovering new talent in our country and it is there around us all the time. Whether it's the IPL who have discovered new talent in the country or us film makers, it's important for us to find and harness that talent. Even Imran and Harman who are being launched are not star kids. So what's good is that it immediately throws up two new actors. What's brilliant about cinema today is that in a film like Taare Zameen Par, a huge star like Aamir Khan comes in during interval and the film is a blockbuster hit with one child in the film.
So, are you enjoying your new found role as a producer?
Yes I am. You can call it my first film as a producer / director. I am dear to all my films and not because I'm a producer that I am dear to TPTM, but yes, being your first film as a producer means a lot to you because you have a lot to look into. There's a certain sense of ownership you get when you're the producer of a film which gives you a responsibility too. You also want everybody to be happy working in a Kunal Lohli production. I fortunately had this experience of doing that even in my previous films although I wasn't a producer of the film but was incharge on the sets because there was no Adi Chopra nor Yashji as they were never on the sets. So I've had this experience from Hum Tum onwards.
Any words of magic you want to cast upon your audience in the overseas?
I think, they've cast a lot of magic on me because although Mujhse Dosti Karoge wasn't a hit in India, it was a huge hit abroad. I've got a very good track record in the overseas market and I've scored three out of three unlike in India where I've scored two out of three. So I hope they continue to give me their love and support and I'll make sure that I don't let them down. What would be interesting is that we can start marketing our films through our Indian audience to a non-subcontinent audiences. We need to grow our audience base and if any Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani or Bangladeshi friends take along their non-Asian friends to watch their films, it's a good way to market not only our films but also our culture.