His latest comedy, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, opens tomorrow, July 30.
But director David Dhawan is as relaxed as ever.
His mantra is clear: if one film doesn't do well, there is always another one to look forward to.
The director tells Subhash K Jha why the Salman Khan-Akshay Kumar-Priyanka Chopra starrer is more special to him than any of his recent films.
Are you re-inventing yourself with Mujhse Shaadi Karogi?
[Laughs]. Yes and no. I have changed with the times. One has to [change]. My trademark style remains unchanged in its basics. Why should I change when my style has kept me going for so many years? I will never change that.
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi looks different from my other films. I have worked very hard on the film's look and music.
So far I have targeted all my films at the masses. But now I have started looking at what the audiences in the multiplexes want. Admittedly, they look for the same things as audiences in single theatre only with a little more sophistication. I have given them that. Maine donon taraf nazar rakh ke Mujhse Shaadi Karogi banaya hain [I have kept both audiences in mind while making Mujhse Shaadi Karogi].
Does that mean you are looking for a new audience?
I would never make a film that would put off my hardcore audience. David Dhawan is what he is today because of them.
We talk of new cinema but it's the old style that still turns on the audience. I can't make a Spider-Man in India, even if I tried. We can't afford it. There are so many other things that I can do over here. So, I am not complaining.
Cinema is a vast ocean. I have so much to learn and so much to give.
Was it difficult handling two stars like Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi? Were there any ego hassles?
It was amazing to get Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar to work together. It was amazing to watch them work so comfortably together. Though they play rivals in the film there is no element of rivalry between them in real life. I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to work with these guys.
With Salman, I had worked many times before. We did Judwaa and Biwi No 1. We can communicate without words on the sets. I discovered we are still capable of coming up with surprises. His rapport with Akshay is the USP in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi.
Akshay was new [to me]. We had worked together only once on Mr & Mrs Khiladi. What I liked [about him] is that he really respects Salman.
It was like a picnic on the sets. We never realised when we started and when we ended. You will see all the actors in my film -- Akshay, Salman, Kader Khan, and Amrish Puri -- as never before. And Priyanka Chopra, with whom I am working for the first time, was just the right influence on the two badmaash [mischievous] boys. It was great fun.
Are you directing Salman in the latter's home production?
Yes. We haven't named the film. It also features Katrina Kaif. I am working with Sushmita [Sen] again on the film after Biwi No 1 and with Arshad Warsi for the first time.
They are both so refreshing. And Katrina! She is an incredibly good-looking girl. I haven't seen so much beauty on screen before. She is going to give the other girls a run for their money. Yes, it is inspired by Cactus Flower. But we can't have Cactus Flower in Hindi. It is a completely new script.
Do you think comedies aren't taken seriously in India?
We need laughter in our lives. That's why action films aren't doing well. Even Karan Johar's productions have comic subplots in them.
I agree my comic formula got a little stale. I realised there was a sameness in all my comedies. I realised I had to win a new generation of audiences and also fight a whole new breed of filmmakers who were in touch with the pulse of the youth.
For someone of age and experience it's very difficult to find a new voice of expression. I decided to reinvent my style. My family and friends helped make me do that.
My 20-year-old son in America pushed me into experiencing cinema the world over. I realised the look and the feel of cinema had changed everywhere. I was willing to learn. I adapted myself very quickly. Now I feel I am a part of the younger generation.
My son is learning filmmaking in the US. He is here for his summer vacation and is assisting me on my new Salman-Katrina film.
Is Mujhse Shaadi Karogi your most youthful film to date?
We have used the Baywatch beachside looks, the colours, the sand and sounds. But the masses won't know the difference. I will fool them good and proper. The entertainment ratio is the same. But the sur [tone] of satire has been lowered. The performances are less aggressive. It's classy and massy. You and your driver would both love the film.
My writer Anees Bazmee and I worked so well in the past. Then he went away to direct his own films. Now he's back with me. A full-fledged comedy is impossibility in these parts. There has to be a note of seriousness somewhere in the comedy. Mujhse Shaadi Karogi has it.
How was it making a film for producer Sajid Nadiadwala?
We already made Judwaa with Salman together. All three of us have changed since then, and so have the audience. At a time when relations between producers and directors are going for a toss, Sajid behaved like a younger brother throughout. He let me do whatever I wanted. He was so accommodating, told me I wasn't used properly in my recent films, urged me to find my bearings again. He just opened his coffers, even decided to recreate Goa in Mumbai's Film City when he felt we'd work together on a set.
Are you ready to go international?
I am in the mood. My comedy is a lot like the small Hollywood comedies. I have two hours and 30 minutes of comedy to give in every film whereas they have only 90 minutes of the stuff to offer. If I go abroad, I am sure to do a damned good job. Now I won't be making two films a year. I am taking it easy, re-learning and finding my bearing all over again. I am sure I will soon make a film abroad.
Do you miss working with Govinda?
People think our jodi has split. This isn't true. I met him recently and told him that we must work together again. I am working on a bright new idea. What we did together can never be replicated by anyone. Not even by me with any other actor. We will surprise everyone very soon.
What are you thoughts now?
All these years as a filmmaker, I have never caused anyone any trouble. I never delayed any producer's project. Even the little run-in I had with Ajay Devgan was soon resolved. We worked in Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin. The film flopped. But our relationship has improved. At times things go wrong
I am looking at a much larger picture now. I want to make an emotional film. Remember my Swarg with Rajesh Khanna and Govinda? If I get a subject like that, I would immediately make an emotional film. Right now I am agog about Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. I am waiting for Friday. Everybody says it's going to do well. After all it has the lucky 'M' title like Munnabhai MBBS, Main Hoon Na, Masti and Murder. [Laughs].
Seriously, in my career of 35 films no film has got so much attention. After so many years I'm still here directing movies. What more could I ask for. I feel wonderful. God is great.