On his birthday today, Sajid Nadiadwala looks back on his 25-year-long journey in the film industry
Sarita Tanwar (BOMBAY TIMES; February 18, 2012)
It’s Sajid Nadiadwala’s birthday today. He turns 25 but that is not his chronological age. It’s the number of years he has completed in Bollywood as a producer. In a brief chat, he talks about his buddies (Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Govinda), the high points in the past two decades and why he wants to be like Walt Disney.
Twenty-five years! What’s your favourite part?
• The best part was in 1987, when on my birthday I became a member of the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPAA). I came home and proudly told my mother. She was like, “Are you mad?” I was 22 and a production controller, assisting JP Dutta with my uncle. I got my membership card made and began my journey as a producer.
Why did you decide to become a producer?
• I had applied for the IAS exams and in the interim period of one month, I decided to work with my uncle Habib. The rest just happened. My uncle made my first film Ghulami for me. It starred Dharmendra, Mithun, and Naseeruddin Shah and JP (Dutta) directed it. It was a success and I never looked back.
In the last 25 years, what has been your greatest reward?
• I think it’s been the friends and relationships that I have forged along the way. And I am not only talking about actors like Govinda, Salman, Akshay, Ranbir… but also the staff who’ve worked with me — from my driver to production assistants.
How do you manage to remain friends with different actors?
• I don’t manage friendships. Sanju (Dutt) and Sunny (Deol) have not worked with me for years, but we are still friends. I worked with Salman even when he was not doing so well, so now that he is successful, people think I have an agenda. Today, everybody wants to do a film with Salman, so now even my motives can be questioned.
Was there a doubt in your mind about upsetting him when you decided to work with his frenemy Shah Rukh Khan?
• When I got married, I asked Salman for his opinion by showing him Wardha’s photograph… so how could I take such an important decision without informing him? When I went to Shah Rukh, I told him that I would ask Salman if he was okay with it. Salman said, “Go ahead. He’s a wonderful actor so you should do it.”
Three high points in your career?
• The first was when I launched my banner on February 18, 1987. The second was when Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega released. My accounts were always in the red. But that film changed my life. That is why I hold Salman in the highest esteem. That film wasn’t supposed to happen; Salman flung the diary at me saying, “I don’t have dates.” I returned home with the diary and started filling in dates. I requested all his producers to give me a day here and there. We made that film and it changed everything. I’d decided that the day I paid off all my debts, I would get married. Exactly two months later, I got hitched. Then came the thrid high. After about nine blockbusters, I had forgotten how to deal with a failure when Jaan-E-Maan released. I was shaken. Sajid Khan came to me with Heyy Baby. He was like a brother to me, but didn’t know the ABCD about cameras and hadn’t even assisted anyone. I spoke to Akshay in New York and he said okay without hearing the script. That was the third high point in my career… giving a break to somebody and making a superhit.
Nothing left to achieve?
• No. I never dreamt of reaching where I am today. I reached my goal in 1995-96, when I got back-to-back hits. Last year, I took my kids to Disneyland. While talking to Wardha, I realised that Disney is actually the surname of the man behind the studio, but one only identifies it with animation. Now I have a new dream. If I can achieve the same level of legend with the Nadiadwala name, that would be awesome.