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On 20th anniversary, Kunal Kohli recalls ‘too risky’ project

By News Desk

May 28, 2024 07:14 PM


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On the 20th anniversary, filmmaker Kunal Kohli revisited the making of Hum Tum a  film, which changed the genre’s grammar in Hindi cinema. But it wasn’t an easy film to be made, as its fresh outlook and storytelling were considered ‘too risky’, by the co-writer Siddharth Anand and the producer, Yash Chopra.

“Yash ji had even told Aditya Chopra that if he doesn’t like the film then his name won’t go on it because initially, he was not convinced with the script or the casting!” laughs Kunal Kohli as he recalls the project.

Inspired by the iconic 1998 When Harry Met Sally, the movie was in many ways the beginning of the modern-day romantic comedies, which Bollywood went on to excel throughout the decade.

In an interview, Kunal talks about the casting challenges Hum Tum went through, from being offered to Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Vivek Oberoi to finally landing on Saif Ali Khan, who surprised everyone, including himself, when he won the National Award for his performance in the film.

  

 
 
 
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“The funny thing is, we had cast for Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Adi said we have Hrithik’s dates after about nine months, so I shouldn’t waste time and write another script in the meanwhile. I already had Hum Tum ready and when he read the script, he called me and said, ‘Let’s not make Mujhse Dosti Karoge, let’s make Hum Tum, which is a new film!’ I said no, everyone has approved it, from Yash Chopra, Rakesh Roshan, Hrithik, Rani, Kareena, after this is a hit, we can make Hum Tum. He agreed but his heart was on Hum Tum.

He added: “We made Mujhse Dosti Karoge but it didn’t work as well as we expected it to but the first thing he told me was that he wanted to make Hum Tum. I told him that he was the only one who had liked the subject and after Mujhse Dosti Karoge–which was a safe film– not working, would he still want to make a ‘risky’ Hum Tum’? But he had loved the script!

“Internally that was the case. Siddharth Anand used to work with me at that time and would joke with me that this is a film for Sterling–a cinema hall in Mumbai, which used to have late night 10.45 PM show for niche films. So, he would joke that it is a nice script, but it will work only there as it is not a massy film! ‘Ye picture toh nahi chalne waali,‘ would be the joke, but I thought I made a commercial film with Mujhse Dosti Karoge and it didn’t work, so let me make this now and try.

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He continued: “It was after Mujhse Dosti Karoge. He loved the script. He said, ‘I am not confident of the films I am doing right now, I don’t know how many of them will work or what will happen to them, and I don’t know whether I am in the right frame of mind to do this.’ He said to wait for a couple of his films to release and then let’s take a call. But Adi felt it would be too long to wait for two years, see how his films fare and then decide, so he suggested we let this go. Because even Hrithik wasn’t sure if he will do it, he was very honest that he is not sure if he is right for this space.

“When he heard Saif is doing it, he was thrilled and told me that he never thought of him but felt Saif was the right choice. We were releasing on May 28 and two weeks after that Lakshya was releasing. When Hrithik saw Hum Tum at the trial with Sussane, both of them loved it. He said, ‘I would never have been able to do what Saif did. Your film is a superhit.’ Hrithik is a ‘commercial’ guy, he understands that cinema very well. He was like, ‘Your film is a sure shot hit, I am just worried that now my film should do well in front of your film! You have no idea how big your film is going to be!’ It wasn’t just a trial show talk, he was absolutely genuine.”


News Desk


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