Politics is no longer seen as a taboo in Hindi movies, holds director Kabir Khan, many of whose films deal with thorny, contemporary issues. The director of the upcoming film Tubelight stresses that it is important for him to give a societal context to the stories that he deals with. “When I used to watch Bollywood films, I would struggle with the fact that our cinema was set in La La Land, with no social or political context. So I decided that whenever I make a film, I’ll try to put some context about what’s happening,” Khan, the maker of such films as Kabul Express and the blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
The success of his projects indicates that audiences welcome such films, he points out. “Fortunately for me, all of the films have done well so that means the audience is also enjoying them. Earlier, there used to be a taboo and people would say, ‘Oh, don’t put politics in your films; the audience don’t watch it.’ But if you engage them through your characters, they are ready to follow any politics or the world you’ve created,” he adds.
The story of Tubelight, his third collaboration with Salman Khan after Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, is set against the 1962 Indo-China war.
The director did not elaborate on the story but reports suggest that Salman Khan plays a man from India who falls in love with a woman from China, played by Chinese actress Zhu Zhu.
Khan is also happy to have brought together Salman khan with Shah Rukh Khan, who features in a special guest appearance, in the film. The last time they worked together in a movie was Hum Tumhare Hai Sanam in 2002. “I’ve known Shah Rukh for a long time and the equation with him hasn’t changed at all. It’s still fun. I was actually very close friends with Gauri, his wife, so we’ve always been very warm and friendly. When I took the idea of this cameo in Tubelight to him, he readily agreed. I didn’t have to convince him at all,” Khan says.
It had to be Shah Rukh, he adds, for the role was that of a superstar. “Trust me, it’s a great cameo and a fantastic character. Shah Rukh is someone I’ve always looked up to as a senior. He is also probably the most well read person in the industry,” he says.
The director says he is not worried about matching the success of Bajrangi Bhaijaan with his new film but hopes that people will like Tubelight too. “We really enjoyed making Bajrangi and the people appreciated it and gave it a kind of love which was unprecedented. But I don’t think that can become the benchmark for us. You’ll always be under pressure if you compare any new film that you make with the one that did so spectacularly well,” he adds.
All that he has to do, he says, is to make a film with the “same passion” as they did with Bajrangi. “And hope people like it as much as they liked Bajrangi.”