Right in the beginning, you declare that you are Rahul and you are 40 now, reminiscing of the romantic saga envisaged with the same name in most of your films. Declaring that you are 40 now, do you think that will affect your Rahul-fan following at large?
(Laughs) I don’t know yaar. Yeh bada tricky sa sawaal puchh liya. But you are naughty at 40!! (Cheekily smiles) So girls would still love me and I did Veer Zaara where I was 65 and Priety Zinta still loved me. Age has nothing to do with the kind of romance I exude on screen or otherwise and you won’t understand that since you are a guy. Ask the women and you would know. I say this with huge amount of respect that I have immense affinity towards women: from sisters, mothers daughters and wives. Well I am just not that good with everybody else’s wives! (Laughs) I feel that I can talk about love with all gentleness all the time.
Though Chennai Express has a lot of romance brewing, it is in fact an action film. Was this a conscious decision to not do a typical romantic film that you are famous for?
This is an out and out a comedy film, in total Rohit Shetty ishtyle. Rohit Shetty ki film hai toh har cheez milegi is film mein from romance to action to comedy. Chennai Express is a very funny film with a very sweet layer of romance going throughout. But if there are no action and car explosions in Rohit’s film, it would have no meaning at all. So yes there are a couple of action sequences in this film, one of them is intense and the others are chases and stuff. But the film is for the family audience, it is about grandparents, about pratha, riwaaz, about love for your parents and it is a very clean film. Bohut saaf suthra film hai yeh! We are not spoofing South Indian people and their traditions. That is the best part of this film.
Working with Deepika again after Om Shanti Om, how much has she changed since her debut film?
Deepika had started off with me in Om Shanti Om and she is one person who looks the way a star should internationally look like. She is tall, she is modern, she is beautiful and knows the nuances of dancing and music. Om Shanti Om stood out because of two women in the film: Farah Khan and Deepika. Main toh sirf six pack leke aa gaya tha film ke andar. I feel over the years, the way that she has been making her moves and gradually the success that she has been receiving, it is too patronizing of me to talk about a co-actor of that caliber and say, “Oh she has improved a lot and she is fantastic”. We are really close friends and I am very comfortable working with her. When we did OSO, we did tell her that if we work together next, we would do so when we can look beyond Shantipriya. Chennai Express is that film. The most beautiful thing about Deepika is that she comes on the set and you can mould her in the manner you want to. She does not come with an additional baggage of stardom ki ek item number karana parega ya usko aisa hi role karwana parega. She has done some variety of roles be it her modern look in Cocktail or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani where she played the vulnerable nerd and here she plays a small town South Indian so there iss a huge amount of pliability in Deepika as an actor. I can say that because I have worked longer with her and I would hopefully do some more films with her.
Every movie buff associates your films with Diwali but this time, you chose to release it on Eid. Why was such a change made?
The release dates always depend on the shooting schedules. Chennai Express actually started in September last year so that’s why such a release date. But yes, most of my films do release on Diwali, not because we want it to but because it is a festive season for us where we have the family get together and stuff. But Diwali was one day which Yashji used to choose for all his films. I start with Happy New Year in September so that would be releasing sometime next October but I don’t choose like that. This one just got over that’s why we thought of releasing it on Eid, which is again a festive occasion for all of us. There is nothing special with dates when it comes to me personally but definitely the producers do choose dates sometimes depending on their plans and strategies.
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