Shah Rukh Khan says Ranbir Kapoor called him the day his film, Jab Harry Met Sejal, was launched
Ranbir Kapoor suggested title, Jab Harry Met Sejal; have to give him Rs 5,000: SRK
Ranbir Kapoor suggested title,
Jab Harry Met Sejal; have to give him Rs 5,000: SRK
For some time now, there have been talks around Shah Rukh Khan’s next with film-maker Imtiaz Ali — vis-à-vis the film’s title and a clash with another big-ticket film.
Now, as the film’s poster and title, Jab Harry Met Sejal (JHMS) become a talking point, we chat with the superstar about the film, who quips that “Imtiaz has finally made a happy film”. Excerpts from an interview:
There were many supposed titles in the fray. How did you finally decide on this one?
Actually, we always only had a working title, which Imtiaz had written on the script. He always names his films — such as Highway (2014) and The Ring — in English, maybe except for Rockstar (2011) for which the working title was retained. So, we were like, ‘we will think of a Hindi title as we go along’. None of the titles such as Rehnuma and XYZ, which were doing the rounds, were in consideration. I know it’s a classic English film (When Harry Met Sally; 1989) but we always had JHMS in mind since the characters’ names are Harry and Sejal.
Your film’s official title has been announced after a lot of speculations…
You know, at a point, when I wanted the title out; there were so many rumours about it that I told my team, ‘let’s not talk about it till we take out the poster. The posters will also signify what the film is all about.’ Otherwise, people would have started commenting saying, ‘yeh kya title hai (what is this title) or something’ because the title is a bit unique for a Hindi film. It’s not a regular title but then Imtiaz’s (Ali) films are like that. It’s a young, happy film, which is full of energy and has lots of comedy. I wanted all those people who were speculating about the title to get over with it. But mostly, or at least 80% of the people [in the team] believed in this title.
What’s the Ranbir Kapoor connect with it?
I don’t want to say it but Ranbir suggested it so, we have to give him Rs 5,000 for the same (laughs). He called me the day the film was launched and said, ‘Shah Rukh bhai, the film should be called, ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’. I really liked it but Imtiaz said it’ll remind people of his old film (Jab We Met; 2007). Then, when the title song comes on, the title’s meaning also comes along. So, after thinking a lot — at least internally — we all started calling it JHMS.
Many feel that the title reminds them of Jab We Met and When Harry Met Sally…
Ranbir had suggested When Harry Met Sejal. And I think Karan (Johar) said, ‘make it, Jab Harry Met Sejal’ because maybe it’s Imtiaz’s own film. But honestly, neither of those films are related to this one. Ours is a beautiful, comic and slice-of-life kind of a journey film. People perceive that [connection as] we mixed the names of two films but it’s nothing like that. Maybe, Ranbir’s thought (about the title) came from When Harry Met Sally as everyone knows about that film.
Also, there won’t be the much talked about clash with Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (August 11) as you moved your film’s release date to August 4…
I have always maintained that if possible, I would change the release dates of my films [to avoid clashes]. Earlier, another film was releasing on August 4, but when that one was removed from that date, we thought it’s a great weekend with the Raksha Bandhan holiday too falling then. Also, I think JHMS is in the space of a long-running film; it’s not a weekend-oriented film. So, we will get the benefit of the second big holiday — August 15 too. It’s that kind of film, since it’s a classic love story.
Don’t you feel it’s great for the overall film business when there’s no clash and a film doesn’t ‘stick’ to a particular date?
Unfortunately, I have been one who has been sticking to his [release] dates in the past but sometimes, it’s not possible [to move dates] because of the bigness of the film. And honestly speaking — and it may be wrong for me to say it — but our films do have a big capacity. It requires 3000-4000 screens but if my film clashes with another one, the capacity of my film gets reduced to say 2,000 screens. So, you end up running to low capacity. Business wise, that’s a [major] consideration.
But in the past, you have personally tried hard to avoid box office clashes…
Yes, whenever my film releases with another one, I have always gone to people and am like, ‘can we change your date since I can’t change it in time’ but mostly people don’t agree. This time, I had the choice, and since August 4 is a fantastic date, we took a decision and moved to the date without any compulsion and booked theatres accordingly. We made the communication on Friday since we had to be clear with the first look as well as our date. I think everybody is happy to do it (avoid the clash). I hope this makes everyone feel that [if] there is an alternate date, [one can move]. Otherwise, sometimes, if there is no alternate, you get stuck and I have been in that situation before.
You are doing a love story after a gap…
Yes, I am doing one after over a year. So, most of my office [people] also felt that since it’s not an action film for which we should be like, ‘teen din ki acchi opening le le bas’ (hope the film has a great opening for three days). It’s not just about me doing a love story after a break; Imtiaz is also doing a happy love story and the cast is very good with Anushka (Sharma) in it too. It’s a sweet film with songs, comedy and music, so we felt that two week run will be good for us. Also when two films clash, people start talking [more] about actors leading to a lot of negativity. So, we forget our films and start answering questions about the other film. I wanted to stay away from that and my office was also clear that we wanted that.
Till now, most of the time your films – in the event of a clash – have ended up making more money…
Two things happen. One, you’re stuck in a situation wherein your film releases with others’ films, who are colleagues and friends. So that’s a little awkward. But all of us understand [the business]. Even for Kaabil and Raees, Hrithik (Roshan) and I had sat down to discuss [the avoidance of clash]. But [despite the clash], things are absolutely alright between us and it was unfortunate that we couldn’t avoid that, and released our films [on the same day].
Even trade experts feel that some films require a bigger release?
I will go back to what I said before. Some films do have a bigger capacity, including Jab Harry Met Sejal, wherein we have the opportunity to take on 4,000 theatres and fill it to the full capacity on a weekend. People like love stories. Suppose my film releases alongside another one, the screens get — and rightly so — divided by half; or maybe, a little more in our favour but ultimately, we still run to low capacity.
Do you feel that at the end of the day, every film needs a proper window?
Besides the money that our films make by overtaking another one, there are two things. One, everyone is a colleague and we are all working on a film that’s all about creativity. And secondly, I think every film should have its own breathing space. And the business that a film makes on a weekend is always big. Having been on the side when I’ve always made more money with every film, I still feel it’s not a good, positive feeling [when two films clash]. If you can avoid it, it’s better to do it. I have no egos like that.