These days, content, more than a films star, mostly draws people to the theatres, feels veteran producer Sajid Nadiadwala.
“The audience has changed. Earlier, there used to be undying fans. If an actor became ill or injured, fans would commit suicide by setting fire on themselves or jumping off. I remember I had been to Bangalore when Amit Ji (Amitabh Bachchan) was injured. People went into mourning. They broke bangles, stood in long queues outside temples to pray for him. Even Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai was shut. But today content is the king. People are going for content, the audience wants this change,” Nadiadwala said.
He added: “Earlier, they (actors) would have a starry image. That would not work now. Today the audience wants chilled-out and relaxed guys. Ayushmann (Khurrana) is working big time. Look at every actor of these days, there is no extra charisma off-screen. If you have great content, if you are nice with the media, the audience and your fans, that works. The attitude and arrogance of that generation wouldn’t work now.”
Nadiadwala, who has traditionally worked with big stars and mega budgets, has now produced a relatively modest film, Chhichhore.
Talking about Chhichhore, he said: we had discussed this film before Dangal and started working on it after the release of Dangal. Today I can happily say that it is one of my finest products till date. The audience will be surprised after watching the film because the trailer does not give away even five percent of the story.”
Although Nadiadwala acknowledges the growing importance of content-driven commercial cinema as Chhichhore, he points out in the same breath that star power is not fading away.
“Star power ensures a film opens well (at the box office). Star power opened a (film-like) Mission Mangal. It has done (business worth) Rs 200 crore. So, star power is always there,” he said.
He recalled the days when today’s superstars like Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan were struggling to craft a position for themselves in the industry.
Nadiadwala, who has produced some of Salman’s early movies like Jeet, Judwaa, and Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, and hits like Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Jaan-E-Maan, which starred Salman with Akshay, said: “I have always made films with actors who became superstars. Akshay’s (Kumar) first or second film was mine. We met in school, then in college and then in our struggling days. There were many films with Salman (Khan), too. Eventually, they became stars.”
Nadiadwala’s upcoming biggies include the Salman-starrer Kick 2, and Housefull 4, starring Akshay Kumar. He also produces “83”, about India’s 1983 World Cup win, starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.
For now, however, Nadiadwala is gearing up for the September 6 release of Chhichhore. The film stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma, Prateik Babbar, Tahir Raj Bhasin and Naveen Polishetty in key roles.