Farhad Samji: When the audience claps and whistles, I feel I’ve hit a home run

Farhad Samji, a writer-turned-filmmaker whose skill set has a nod from Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Rohit Shetty among others, is gearing up to direct two films, in quick succession. Bachchan Pandey will topline Akshay while Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali will feature Salman Khan in the lead. When asked how he plans to work with two superstars in two consecutive films, Farhad told BT, “We first work on a script and then see which actor fits the bill. It’s not the other way around. I have to direct these two big films back-to-back, and I won’t have time to spare, but my team and I have drawn out a plan, so we can effectively work on things with both the actors, and keep our new deadlines. I’m learning the ropes of this from Akshay Kumar who simultaneously delivers quality and quantity throughout the year. I do feel nervous at times thinking about how I will manoeuvre this eventually.”

Farhad’s last film as a director was Housefull 4, which was criticised on several accounts. His next two films as a director are also equally commercial, massy outings. “Main bade bol nahi bolunga that I don’t care for critics, but they are not the reason for me to make a film or to write one,” said Farhad, adding, “When the audience claps and whistles, I feel I’ve hit a home run. I’m here because I have chosen to entertain a large audience, and for that, I do what it takes. I also want the producer who pays me to get his due. Critics don’t top my priority list, entertaining people does. Reviews were written even 20 years ago. Cult films like Sholay, Hum Aapke Hain Koun! and Lagaan also got negative remarks but look at what the films achieved! My mission, with every film, is to get the audience to say, ‘Mazaa aa gaya.’ I don’t disregard what critics say. Truth be told, some of their remarks hurt me. When they gave scathing reviews to Housefull 4, it brought down my spirit that weekend, but when the film did well, jaan mein jaan aa gayi.”

However, Farhad believes that even the formulaic commercial films need a story and some logic to keep the audience hooked. “Any commercial film, a comedy like Golmaal or an action film like those in Rohit Shetty’s cop universe, has to go all out with its elements to stay true to this genre. Yes, over a period of time, we’ve realised that we can do with infusing logic in our stories. The condition is that it shouldn’t dilute humour, action or any other element that the audience will potentially enjoy. The audience has to be invested in the film, and not looking into their phones. We do what it takes to achieve that. Taaliyaan to chahiye! But when my team and I work on scenes, we do think it through, thoroughly. We analyse how certain jokes, punches and elements of the story will be perceived by the audience.”