These are no longer the days of actors being the stars of the movies. The audience is catching up with the faces behind the camera and giving them their due credit. The promotional stints are incomplete without the trio of leading actors and the director. Rohit Shetty is one of the known faces of the Bollywood directorial brigade. His impressive status was apparent when he was chosen to host ‘Fear Factor: Khatron ke Khiladi’ after Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra.
1. His dad, Fighter Shetty, as he was known, passed away when he was only 6 years old.
A life-shattering demise, it forced his mother to work as a junior artiste in Bollywood as his father was the sole bread winner of the family. This also made them shift to Mumbai suburbs.
I think everybody has their story. I was in third or fourth when my mom had to start working because… (his father passed away.) Today, we are quite smart, we do our investments. Earlier, it was not like that. My family went through a crisis.
2. He traveled a long distance to his school in Kalina.
His school St. Mary’s was at Kalina. He never missed the 5:49 AM Virar local train. An hour later, he would get off at Andheri where he would board another train to Santa Cruz. After a long flight of stairs, he would take a bus to his school. This was how his mornings went till he turned 15.
It was a culture shock because when I was born we had everything. My father was the biggest and the most popular action director of that time. We had seen the glamour, glory and money. And then everything just vanished.
3. At 15, ‘Phool Aur Kaante’ gave him his first salary of Rs 35.
That is why he didn’t bother to study further or get himself into college. He met a film director and almost begged him for work. Kuku Kohli took 1 year to get convinced but finally ‘Phool aur Kaante’ became his first film as an AD. He earned Rs 35 for it. More than that, he became friends with Ajay Devgn and gained action tutelage from Veeru Devgan.
Veeruji used to tell me, ‘It’s in your blood’. That’s how the journey began.
4. No one wanted to do a movie with him after ‘Zameen’ bombed.
‘Zameen’ was Shetty’s directorial debut and it made no box-office collection. As a result, no one wanted to work with him until Ajay Devgn loved the idea of ‘Golmaal’. Ashtavinayak, which was a new production house, agreed to launch the movie.
I still don’t know why they signed two flop directors. Imtiaz had made ‘Socha Na Tha’ which tanked. And I had made ‘Zameen’. The whole industry was laughing at Ashtavinayak. But Ajay convinced them about ‘Golmaal’.
5. Dino Morea was the first choice for Tusshar Kapoor’s role.
‘Golmaal’, which saved Tusshar Kapoor’s drowning career, was offered to Dino Morea initially. The actor, however, refused the deaf-and-mute role as there were no dialogues for him. Well, someone’s loss is someone’s gain!
6. Shetty hated ‘Golmaal Returns’, but calls ‘Golmaal 3’ a landmark.
He calls the 2008 released movie ‘Gomaal Returns’ his most mediocre work till date. However, ‘Golmaal 3’ is almost a landmark in his career.
Comedy was always a safe genre. But we took it to a different level in ‘Golmaal 3’ and made it a saleable business. Shah Rukh called to say he loved the film and we should work together.
7. He will forever be indebted to Amitabh Bacchan.
He’s not just an awestruck fan but also a young boy who was shown Bacchan’s generosity when his family had no money or house. Rohit Shetty has repeatedly stated how he would love to work with Amitabh Bacchan in a full-fledged movie. ‘Bol Bachchan’ was a dream for him even though the actor did a cameo role in it.
It is the first time in my career that I have got a photo clicked with any actor deliberately. He is like God to me.
8. Flops and criticism don’t matter – and here’s why:
Shetty’s movies have been called insufferable, heavily commercialized and nonsensical. However, criticism stopped hurting him long back. He says people need to stop expecting pasta at an Udipi restaurant.
I have given seven blockbusters but I started with a flop. So it doesn’t bother me anymore.
I think nothing describes Rohit Shetty’s style of work more than this statement from filmmaker-screenwriter and critic Khalid Mohamed, “Commercial cinema has no style as such. In Shetty’s films, one thing isn’t related to the other. Anything can happen anytime and that, in effect, is his style.”