Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ra.One is the most expensive film made in India: Shahrukh Khan

ET Now caught up with Shahrukh Khan for his views on his new and ambitious movie Ra.One and his film marketing strategies. Excerpts: 

For a film like Ra.One, I was told that you are really attempting that this particular character will not die post the movie and it plans to live on with many more Ra.Ones, probably sequels coming on and you are really looking to make and create a Ra.One character for the long term. That' a very maverick move, something that has not been attempted in India before. How did you think of it?
I would like it happen like that, but having been in the business for so long, there is many a slip by the time you get the movie from the paper onto the celluloid. Always everyone makes a film with a lot of love and hope that you can first of all make everyone like it. And then certain films, which you even assume to be different, suddenly turns out to be different.

So movies take a life of their own, but having said that, when I thought of Ra.One, Ra.One being the bad guy, actually who I would like to go on is G.One, the good guy, because normally superheroes are the one and I would like to get new villains. One of the strange thoughts, which I think is the first time I am saying it anywhere, is I want to name each film with the name of the new villain.


Everyone always has a superhero name. That's a thought, it could be completely wrong. Nobody has done it. There must be a reason nobody has done it or maybe nobody thought of it, but I really would like to do that because there are two reasons. One, we do not have films which are designed as franchises. They just get made. So Dhoom was a fantastic franchise, Don, we never thought we will have a part 2 or Golmaal.

So these are certain films which just take a life of their own and then we decide to do, but it is important that we do start making films, so they kind of create an event. Movie watching is now an everyday thing. Earlier on when we used to watch a movie, that was the day set aside for a movie. Now movies are one of the things that you do as the day goes on. You meet friends, you hang out at the mall, watch the movie, then go and have food and drinks. So it is one of the things.

Every moviemaker has to make sure that on one day this should become a part and parcel of entertainment. So you need to create it like an event. So that was one reason that I just felt. I worked for 20 years. I have this huge interest in trying to bring technology as a producer into cinema, that's the only thing you can control.

You cannot control the story. You cannot control the actors. You cannot control the fate of a film, but what you can control is what it looks like and how it seems international. Whenever I travel, I see some other films and having done 70 films, I am like my film does not look like this, our films do not look like this. So it is important for me to do that for that reason.

The second was that there is a genre of filmmaking. There are so many genres that we are not being able to tap. Youngest country in the world in the next 3-4 years, exposed to world cinema, fears that they would stop watching our own films, local films, regional films. We need to make them look as cool, as international as the world cinema because that's what they are used to.

So I want to make that. I thought Ra.One, superhero, would be a genre which can create that. The bottom line is you spend a lot of money on this, but most of the R&D and all the VFX and all the hardware that you bought for the film become a little redundant if you do not make another one. So it would be nice if all the investment that we have made can work towards giving us another film like that, but all that, like I said in the beginning, depends on, if you like the film, you make the second one. If you do not like the film, you can keep on having any plan that you like.

But I am right in saying that you would ideally like G.One to have a longer life than just Ra.One?

I was sitting with someone the other day. I was wanting G.One to come on a wheelchair, called G.10, G.15, G.Two. Yeah, I would like to. I was the other day meeting a younger actor and I told him 'inshallah if this film takes off, after a couple of ones, I would like you to become G.One.' So yeah, it would be really nice if I can do that. I would like it to be a character who is free of the actor, that anyone can become like how you have Batman. But these are all thoughts. I have thought of it like this.
Like you said, yes, I am a bit of a maverick. I said 'okay, let's give it a shot, let's see where it goes' but if it goes right because now I also know as a producer, I can make a cheaper film than what I have made because now I have learnt, I have the hardware, I have the knowledge and I can make a 10 times better film technologically speaking than what even Ra.One is because now I know the ropes. I need to utilise that for my company.

I need to make Red Chillies VFX and all of us, I keep telling them I hope this sticks because now we know how to make a cooler, bigger, better film and that would be interesting if we are able to do.

You have also gone the whole hog when it comes to marketing. I do not think we have had such a big thing. Of course film marketing is now normal, but you have taken it to a totally different level, whether it be digitally or it be with Indiagames in terms of conceptualising this videogame or it be with YouTube. I can keep going on, be it with Formula One, you have just gone the whole hog. Just to get a sense because you are the producer of the film, obviously you have spent a lot of money in terms of your marketing budget.
Would you say going forward filmmakers and producers such as yourselves need to invest that much or would you say that would you rather do the normal traditional marketing, which is limited because that might lent to more profitability at the end considering every film is a risk?

Yes, both ways, you can look at it either of the way and take a decision. I will tell you how I work. I am an economics student. I do not understand numbers though when I come down to a film, but I am coming from theatre, coming from television, being into movies, being a media person, the one thing I wanted to say right in the beginning and in a certain sense I am one of the pioneers of trying to market films in a different way because I understand it. I am a little educated. Why is my movie not being talked about here?


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