You’ve seen Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor come together in the past but they haven’t managed to create too much hype onscreen as a couple. However, come this Diwali the duo will come together again in debutante Prem Soni’s much awaited and talked about Main Aur Mrs Khanna. Shot prominently in Australia and based on the theme of love and marriage, this one is already being slated for one to watch out for. The teasers are already out and have managed to create much hype regarding its unique treatment and storyline. Prem Soni, a firm believer of love, has bravely taken on the thesis of love and holy matrimony, added modern ideas of marriage to come up with a different and yet relatable film. Check out BollySpice’s exclusive interview with the man behind Main Aur Mrs Khanna and find out how he managed to make Salman romance Kareena and more intricate details about this much awaited film!
What made your venture into directing after working with STAR India?
Yes, I’ve been with them for sixteen years. I started working in 1994, and I always wanted to be a director but there is always a time and space for everything I guess. I was in the process of realizing and discovering myself. I started off with writing though; that’s my forte. And the next step to that was obviously directing. And I really wanted to because there were too many imaginations and visualizations in my mind that were always running. So that really pushed me to direction.
What is your previous experience in direction and your relationship with Hindi films?
Well, I had directed a lot of television serials before but with films this is my first time. But yes, I am a big fan of Hindi films! A big fan! I love the drama, the glamour, the gloss and even the complications.
Tell us about how you managed to rope in Salman Khan to be a part of Main Aur Mrs. Khanna.
It was actually not that difficult honestly. I think he was also looking for a script, which would actually impress him. I happen to meet him through a common friend a couple of years back. I had a small little chat with him about films and something happened, and he said that if I had a script for him, I should go him. So I was like cool, whenever I would have a script, I would. Two years later, I wrote a script. And I just thought that he would be good for it so I had gone to go meet him when he was shooting for Partner. I told him I have a script and asked him if he had the time to hear it. And he said of course I would hear it but I don’t have the dates to start a film soon for the next three years. So I told him to hear it and if he liked it, we could obviously talk about it. I didn’t have any other star and I had been struggling for years. And I told him if he said okay, I would wait for three years. I think he liked my honesty and up-frontness and he heard the script without any interruption, loved it and said ‘How can I say no to this script? This is one of the most wonderful scripts I’ve heard’.
Without giving too much away, what is the premise of the film?
It’s a very simple film – its romance of course; but intermingled with marriage obviously being a strong point in the film. It’s about love versus career; about a man and a woman. The man prefers to head towards career to make his life, would a woman give that space if she had to? Would she allow him to make his career and then come back to his love? Or would she say no, you give me what I need and let’s walk together and make a choice. It’s about relationships in today’s world; marriage in today’s world. It’s really difficult to have a happy marriage – but Main Aur Mrs Khanna talks about the positive sides of marriage and not the negative. It talks about togetherness and how to support each other in their own way. Obviously a man needs to be successful to live his life happily with a woman.
And how did you come up with the idea for the script?
I had seen a lot of marriages in India and abroad, everywhere. It’s not a copy of any English script or any European film; it’s completely original. It’s taken from incidents from people I’ve seen around me and their relationships. It’s very difficult to keep marriage but it’s not so complicated as people make it. It’s a very real film with wit in place – but very down and simple. There is nothing complicated, like I said, about the film.
There were many rumors afloat regarding the lead actress. Everyone from Preity Zinta to Ayesha Takia and even Lara Dutta. Then you finally zeroed in on Kareena Kapoor.
Yes! (Laughs) That’s true. I’ve known Kareena for a long time now even before the film—we were good friends. The idea was to get somebody who can pull off this character. It’s a very difficult role to portray because it’s very subtle. There is nothing dramatic or in-your-face in the film. But there is a lot of underplayed emotions and performance. So we needed someone who had the age right, the experience right, and who is ready to take that chance that could be difficult for her to pull off. We had a lot of meetings with a lot of actresses but fortunately or unfortunately we couldn’t get through the right one. And Bebo was actually perfect. She was the best contender for the film and believe me the kind of performance she has given as Mrs. Khanna, the title role, she’s unbelievable. She is one of the finest actresses in India today. She is just a treat.
The film has been slotted in the romance genre. How is the chemistry of Kareena and Salman together onscreen?
Well it’s not a Shah Rukh [Khan] – Kajol kind of chemistry – there is no heat here. It’s very sweet, like Shahid [Kapoor] and Kareena were in Jab We Met. This is obviously not the same but it’s on the lines of Hum Tum, Jab We Met. So they have a very sweet understanding in the film. It’s not about candyfloss on a frivolous level or laughing and clapping with one another.
What can you tell us about the music of the film? We haven’t heard anything about it just yet. When is it out?
The music should be releasing around September 10th and the teasers are already out. The first theatrical teaser was out with Kaminey. And the television promotions should start end of this month. The music is very much a part of the film. It’s not the kind of film that you would start dancing to because it’s not the typical Hindi film music that just comes in between without any reason. For our film, the music helps take the film forward, like most great films have. I would say India makes so many great films, where songs play an important part of the film and take the story forward. So, I’ve also followed the same pattern – the music is a part of the film; it’s not just music, there is a lot of story involved.
How hard or easy is it to direct the likes of Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in your debutante film?
I think if you know your job, it’s pretty easy. If you don’t know your job, it’s the most difficult place to be! You know eventually at the end of the day, working with superstars like Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the only worry is that whatever you tell them should be delivered to them. The director is the captain of the ship, so when you narrate a script, they have to be confident of you to pull it off the way you have actually promised to do so. If you do that, they are sweethearts! They wouldn’t give you a problem at all. They are looking for professionalism completely. It’s something that we all want to do; if you promise them sky, moon and stars, you must deliver. Personally I had a beautiful time making the film with Salman, Kareena and Sohail because there was no friction, there was no debates or any fights. There was just positive energy running on our sets all the time, which definitely reflects, onscreen. So, I feel all of them have worked with so much positivity, that it will surely exude onscreen; I am sure about that. I wouldn’t say I have a great film on-hand, I would say I have a very sweet film on-hand. It’s a very heartfelt film.
That’s very modest of you!
Yeah, honestly we are not here to make great films. We can’t make great films. But we can make a good film. This is a story that I feel people would be interested in seeing. And somewhere down the line, your heart will start beating at some level in the film and say, oh this so beautiful and so true.
How were UTV (Ronnie Screwvala) and Sohail Khan as producers?
I interacted a lot with Sohail Khan Productions a lot because they were my home production in the film. With experience, he is one of the finest producers you can work with because he knows the trade in-and-out. His experience does help a new director. He’s a director dream and gave me whatever I asked for with no clashes, no problems at all, no discussions. He was so chilled out always.
Who are some actors that will be making a special appearance in the film?
Yes, there are a few but they are supposed to be surprises! (Laughs)
Why did you choose to shoot a large chunk of the film in Australia?
To be very precise about it, the film is largely to be shot at an airport because there is a lot of the story at the airport. I was looking for a place or a location where I could get an actual international airport beyond immigration to film. And that was getting very difficult for me all across the globe of tight security post 9/11. They don’t allow filming at the airport essentially for long periods. I needed it for twenty-nine days, which was next to impossible. I was not very happy about constructing a set of an airport because I believe a set is a set; it doesn’t give you the real feel. And I wanted the real deal. So the Australian Consul was extremely helpful. They extended their right hand forward and they gave us whatever we needed. Plus Melbourne is a gorgeous city, so I got everything in one. I got Victoria Tourism to help me get the airport – we shot at Melbourne International Airport for twenty days and then we got all the stunning locations, the beaches, history in Melbourne. So it was a dream come true.
What was your experience like at the Cannes Film Festival?
It was fantastic! This was my first to the Cannes and obviously being a first time director, my film has not yet released but I got some exposure to watching so many great films, meeting so many great people. It was just very nice. I would like to go back every year because you get to know so much more about cinema.
Any idea as to what you will be doing after Main Aur Mrs. Khanna?
Yeah, I have a script I am working on for sure. It’s again romance – I do believe in romance largely. Main Aur Mrs Khanna is a sweet romantic story and the other one is a witty one.
And lastly, any message for your audiences about Main and Mrs. Khanna?
If you are really looking for a heartfelt story, or a heartwarming film, please do watch it because I promise you, at the end of it you will say, it’s a sweet film.
Main Aur Mrs Khanna is slated for a Diwali release. Keep checking back for more exclusive details and interviews with the film and its cast!