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Gateway To America

23 Jul


Gateway to America

The Salman Khan starrer “Marigold” is finally ready for release, Anuj Kumar speaks to director Willard Carroll


Ready to bloom Willard Carroll says the dubbed version of the film will be released in India

It took time to blossom but Marigold is finally ready for release. The first Indo-U.S. joint production is directed by Willard Carroll and stars Salman Khan and Ali Larter in the lead.

Says Willard, “Around four years ago when I was in India, by chance, I got to see Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
. The film introduced me to Salman Khan and a new world called Bollywood. In the next six months I watched 150 Hindi films, and the idea to make a film around Bollywood for an American audience germinated in my mind.”

Willard quickly clarifies the idea was not to present a parody of the Hindi film industry. “See, Americans only have a vague idea about Hindi films. One perspective is it’s all about song and dance, then there are films which target the non-resident Indians in the U.S., but most of them have no idea how big and affectionate it is.”

Sounding board

On the second trip, Willard made friends with Salman and soon Salman became his “sounding board.” “I started writing the film with Salman in mind. But the problem was how to present the Indian society which has strong value systems. Here Salman was a great help. Like he told me how his father used say that a father should not fish for his son, he should teach him how to fish. Such little anecdotes helped me understand the environment better.”

Basically a musical, the story, says Willard, is about an American actress Marigold played by Ali Larter who comes to India but gets stranded in Mumbai. She bags a role in a Bollywood film. During the making of the film, she falls in love with the choreographer Prem, played by Salman Khan.

Willard, who has worked with Sean Connery in the past, finds similarities between Sean and Salman. “Both are instinctive and spontaneous. Like for Sean, two retakes are a lot for Salman!” Willard says people will get to see the subtle side of Salman. “I have tried to present the vulnerable Salman, the one people saw in Maine Pyar Kiya.” On the popular notion that Salman is a character in real life as well, Willard refuses to comment but cites an incident. &#
8220;Once he staged his kidnapping on the sets. Only I knew in advance. Everybody was shocked. It was only when I entered to save him that people realised it was a prank.”

The film has seven songs composed by Shankar Ehsan and Loy, written by Javed Akhtar. Willard says edited versions of the songs have been used as American won’t be able to digest the complete versions, which are available in the album. “Five songs are in Hindi and the rest are in English. Even in the English version, the Hindi songs have been retained.” Willard praises Javed’s patience. “I loved Dil Chahta Hai where the same team worked. Javed translat
ed every line into English and made me understand the idea behind the song.”

From Hollywood standards, it is a small film and Willard agrees. “I never wanted to make those sci-fi technological marvels. No doubt they do well, but there is a growing audience in the U.S. which likes to watch cinema that explores the family dynamics and emotions. My film is for them.” In fact, according to Willard, this is the reason why the film got delayed. “It is ready since last Christmas, but that’s the time for big releases. The market guys felt summer was the best time.” Willard wants to return to Bollywood for one more film. Before parting he has some advice. “Bollywood is the only healthy film industry outside Hollywood. It should not try to ape Hollywood.” Hope the Oscar aspirants are listening.


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