Aishwarya Rai starrer Sarbjit hits theatres on Friday. SpotboyE caught up with the film's producer Sandeep Singh for an interview. Excerpts from the conversation that followed:

Why did you leave Sanjay Leela Bhansali?
First let me give you a bit of my association with him. I was a journalist, but I developed a desire to tell stories through movies. I am a huge fan of Bhansali. I met him and he casually asked me, “What do you want to do in life?” I told him that I wanted to work with him. He didn’t think twice and made me the CEO of an established company called Bhansali Productions. I will always be thankful to him. I must say that whatever position I am in today is because of Sanjay sir and his teachings. He believed in me more than I did. 
After that, we worked on Ram Leela, Mary Kom, and Bajirao Mastani. We worked really hard on Bajirao Mastani and Ram Leela’s setup. He takes care of every small detail, whether it is music or costume or set or screenplay. He has an eye for detail. People think that he is not a businessman. But I must say that he is also a great businessman besides a great filmmaker. He believes in quality and not quantity. He makes few films. His aim is not to beat Dharma Productions or Yash Raj Films. His aim has always been to make good films.
Now, let me address your question. Sanjay sir always knew that I wanted to be an individual filmmaker. When I set up Bajirao Mastani and the first schedule was shot, I got an opportunity and I thought I should take it. Sanjay sir told me that if I want to go and do that film, I could go. It was a blessing for me.
Then I contacted Omung Kumar, because we both have worked together in Mary Kom. I told him that I have a script of Sarabjit, but he said 'No'.

And then?
I coaxed him to listen to the story, do some research on Sarbjit and then take a call. I remember he was flying out that night. Suddenly, one day I got as call from him saying 'Let's work together on Sarabjit'. And that’s how we formed a company called Legends Studio (smiles).

Did you keep Bhansali in the loop while making this film?
I must say that Sanjay sir and I are very good friends till date, he is my guru. My love and passion for films, which has grown over the years, is all because of him. Whenever I have any confusion in mind, I just I call him up and go over to his house. I never have to take any appointment. This is what I love about him. He loves to walk, so I discuss most of my things during a walk with him. We both love food, so sometimes we even go out to eat and have long chats over meals.
We don’t talk about anything other than cinema. That’s why I can make films like Sarbjit and he can make films like Bajirao Mastani. For both of us, there is nothing beyond cinema. And that is the reason we love each other’s company.
One thing I want to tell is that people misunderstand Sanjay sir. I have worked with him for so many years and I cannot recall any time when he shouted at me.

Isn't he short-tempered and moody?
Who is not moody and short-tempered? Even I am like that with my mother, friends, brother. Sanjay sir just wants his work to be done properly. And if the work is not proper, anybody would react similarly because the stakes in the film industry are very high.
Besides, Sanjay sir is always the first one to apologize if he has done something wrong. He is the first one to say 'thank you' if he appreciates something. I challenge anybody to make a film like him. Let me say it once-and-for-all through SpotboyE that there is no misunderstanding between Sanjay sir and me.

According to you, which is Bhansali's best work?
Well, Sanjay sir says that he has not made his best film yet.  For me till date, it's Khamoshi.

How did you chose Aishwarya for Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur's part?
Omung and I have worked with Priyanka Chopra in Mary Kom. But she doesn’t have time for Hindi cinema now. We both were clear that we wanted an experienced actress who has completed about 20 years in the industry and someone who is a star and a performer at the same time. 
I don’t understand why people see Aishwarya just in a glamorous role. She has done films like Raincoat, Kandukondain, Chokher Bali and Iruvar. She is a beautiful and intelligent actress. She adds value to her character. She comes fully prepared on the set. It is a blessing that we have her in our first film. Our production house is getting established today because we have a star like her. I never felt that Aishwarya is on the set, I always felt that Dalbir Kaur is on the set. Above all, she had no tantrums.

Can you tell us your fav scene in the film in which she stands out?
It's the scene where she goes to meet her brother Sarabjit for the last time. It is a very emotional scene. 

How did Randeep Hooda (who plays the title role) lose so much weight? 
2 months before the shooting, he started eating only 30 grams of food in a day and 4 cups of black coffee, he even started wearing dirty clothes, chained himself, locked himself in a room and stopped talking to people. India has a lot of talent and if every actor gets that passion and dedication in themselves, I think it would be great. I salute Randeep Hooda for this role.

This movie was supposed to be made by Subhash Ghai earlier, who had chosen Sonakshi Sinha for the role...
Well, Sonakshi was Subhashji’s choice. Omung and I wanted Aishwarya for it. I have known Aishwarya for 15 years. We asked her and she immediately said yes. 

Were you worried that Dalbir Kaur might not permit you to make a film on her brother?
No. The only struggle I had in Sarbjit was that nobody was ready to give money for this film. We went to almost all the studios, narrated the stories and everybody suggested to us not to go ahead with it, Their fear was that the movie might not work and they will not earn money. Omung and I were going into a depression because the shooting dates were coming close and we didn’t have sufficient financial resources. 
Thankfully, a friend of mine Neeraj took us to Vashu Bhagnani, who said that he would love to produce the film. I have never seen a person like Vashuji. Without hearing the script, he said yes. He said that I believe in Sandeep and Omung. He didn’t even come for the shoot once. He trusted us completely. Then, Bhushan Kumar happened to see the edited version and he too loved it, and said that he wanted to join in.

Was Aishwarya also a little worried when the movie was in that fluctuating state?
She didn't know but Omung and I went and told her about these problems. She was very cooperative. She helped us a lot in every department, even small things like getting ready on time and finishing her scenes quickly. She even helped with her fees, which in turn helped us to complete the film within a smaller budget.

Tell me your future plans with Omung.
One is a reality based film. The story will be based in U.P and Agra, it will be shot in 50 days. The second is a love story. The third is a thriller based in London. After that, there is one more film which is a drama. So we are trying different things. Let us see how far we can go.
We are blessed that we now have Bhushanji with us. He has a great knowledge of marketing and business. He takes time in believing in you but once he believes, he gives his 100 per cent. He likes clarity and he clearly puts that across, so some people tend to misunderstand him.
One thing more I would like to say about Bhushanji is that he is so straightforward. That’s what people misunderstand. Yes, he likes to look into every detail and takes a call on every department--- but that’s why he could take Gulshan Kumar's work to such a high level. Our next 4 films are with his company T-series. I hope Omung and I live up to his expectations and in turn, create good cinema for the audience. Nobody should be incur a loss because of our production house, that’s all I want. 

Image Source: facebook/SarbjitMovie, azquotes & Indiaforum
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