He’s Bollywood’s man with the Midas touch. Almost a month after his Diwali offering, ‘Golmaal Again’, released, the film is still enjoying a run at cinema halls across the country, and raking in the moolah. Interestingly, more than the actors in the franchise, Shetty has grown to become the stellar attraction of the film. Inarguably, his persona plays a pivotal role in pulling the audience to theatres. Shetty is a star in his own right.
Also Read: Box Office: ‘Golmaal Again’ Earns Rs 200 Crore, Becomes Ajay Devgn’s Highest Grossing Film
The comic caper, which crossed the R200 crore mark in net domestic box-office collections last week, has now hit R300 crore at the global market. It is being upheld as among the top 10 Hindi films of all times. But even as the film appears to surpass records with its numbers, the director-producer has not stopped counting. “Every morning, I wake up to a new figure,” says Shetty. “We are still keeping track of the numbers. I am elated, but more than me, the guys in my office [are excited]. There is a spring in their step. Seeing them smile and laugh is the most heartening thing for me.”
Even though his faith in his outing was evident when he shrugged off questions about the film clashing with Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar, Shetty admits the success has exceeded his expectations. “When I first saw the final edit, I knew it would do well; but I didn’t expect it to do so well. I have been watching the film with the audience at different theatres in Mumbai. I quietly slink in when the auditorium’s lights dim. Seeing viewers roar in delight gives me a high. And when people say they are seeing it for the second and third time, I tell myself, ‘Man, you got it right!'”
Not known to be party-hearty, he has been celebrating with unit hands and family by treating them to dinners, even agreeing to a visit to expensive places of their choice. “When I am not working, I am at home. I am made like this, what to do?” he sheepishly admits.
Whenever we grab hold of Shetty, he is quick to attribute every success to his crew. Filmmaking, he says, is always a team effort. “From the star to the spotboy, every member plays a part in the success of the film. I can’t take all the credit.” Neither is he taking the acclaim, nor a well-earned break. “But, perhaps in December when my son [Ishaan] has a break from school during Christmas and New Year, we might go on a vacation. I don’t know where [we will go]; Ishaan decides the destination.”
Until then, it’s still all work and no play for Shetty. He has begun the pre-production work for his next, the remake of the Telugu film Temper (2015). The piles of papers scattered on his office desk are testimony that he has already sunk his head deep into the project. “We are working on the script. The film will roll by the end of April,” he says simply of the film, which marks his first Bollywood collaboration with Ranveer Singh.
The “awesome” actor, Shetty had alluded to, would fit the bill of the corrupt cop well, and tells us now that his preference to cast artistes based on their suitability for the role gains precedence over favouritism. Even though he has collaborated with Ajay Devgn several times since his first outing, Zameen (2003), he avoids fuelling the industry’s camp mentality. “Why should I? I don’t live in a camp. I live in a seven-storied building,” he jokes, as we thank our stars that he used better judgement while picking puns for the comic caper. Shetty is known to complete his projects in a start-to-finish schedule. He credits the detailing that goes into the pre-production for his ability to pull them off in time. “The technicians have worked with me for years, so they know exactly what I want. We work in tandem.”
A still from the film
His small screen outings since he debuted nine years ago, have made him a household name. He’s teaming up with Karan Johar for a reality show to find the country’s next superstar. But fans of the stylish filmmaker are hopeful that, like his contemporaries, Shetty too would give acting a go. The answer is a firm, “No.” “I’d rather remain behind the camera, but I have driven cars in my films during action sequences in blink-and-you-miss-it roles.”
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