Admitting that the movie was a disaster, Pahlaj Nihalani says he lost about Rs 80 crore on it.
This is possibly the worst year in living memory for Bollywood with films sinking at the box office one after the other. The latest casualty is the Kapil Sharma starrer Firangi, which sank without a trace this week.
But Firangi is just one of the many films that failed. Last week, Pahlaj Nihalani faced severe financial blows when Julie 2, the film that he presented, failed to impress audiences.
“It was a disaster,” admits Pahlaj. A disaster he could have easily avoided, since the film was never meant to be his financial liability.
“I stepped in only to help my old director friend Deepak Shivdasani, who was stuck with the film with no sign of its completion,” says Pahlaj, who not only came forward to rescue the doomed project but also pumped in his own money — approximately Rs 8 crore to see it completed. Only to see it collapse in a heap on the morning of its release.
Apparently, Pahlaj made every effort to persuade the director to cut the lengthy film (2 hours and 39 minutes) down by half an hour. But Deepak refused to listen.
“There is really no point in pointing fingers at anybody now; what’s done is done,” shrugs the former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief. “No one pointed a gun at my head to back the project,” he says.
Even as Pahlaj lost so much money at the BO, he urges the film industry to look at the larger picture. “Why have so many films flopped in 2017? We are obviously not giving the audience the films they want. Now all eyes are on Tiger Zinda Hai and Padmavati. Only these two films can rescue the film industry from a disaster. Even regional films, which were doing great business last year, are not doing well this year,” rues Pahlaj as he prepares to produce his first full-fledged production since his tenure as the CBFC chairperson ended.
The project is on the Babri Masjid chapter of the country’s history — controversial and provocative. “It’s the need of the hour. If we don’t explore issues that have shaped the country’s history, we are doomed as a nation,” he sighs.