May 31, 2002 
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David Dhawan
David Dhawan's secret mantra
Success is a load of laughs for this director

Sukanya Verma

'Cinema is the cheapest and the only entertainment for the middle class in India. It is escapism. That is what films are about. At least mine are.'

There is no other statement that captures the essence of filmmaker David Dhawan. He is here for leave-your-brains-aside entertainment, and makes no bones about it.

A graduate in editing from the Film Institute of India, the younger sibling of character actor Anil Dhawan (featured in films like Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye), Dhawan got interested in film editing after a family friend suggested he tried doing it as a career option.

Dhawan came to Mumbai from Kanpur and joined Doordarshan network and edited UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Education Fund) documentaries. Sawaan Kumar Tak offered him to edit Saajan Bina Suhagan (Nutan, Padmini Kolhapure), followed by Rajendra Kumar's Love Story (Kumar Gaurav, Vijeyta Pandit) and Mahesh Bhatt's Saaransh (Anupam Kher, Rohini Hattangady).

After a stint as a reputer editor, Dhawan decided to get behind the camera. He got his break in films like Gola Barood (Hemant Birje, Sonam), Taqaatwar (Sanjay Dutt, Govinda, Neelam) and Aag Ka Gola (Sunny Deol, Dimple Kapadia), which were damp squibs at the BO.

Unlike mentor Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who excelled in subtle, lighthearted comedy, Dhawan chose to go all out with his trademark loud sense of humor. However, Dhawan began his winning streak with a social drama like Swarg starring Rajesh Khanna, Govinda and Juhi Chawla.

The film was an average hit, thereby marking the beginning of a long-term association between him and Govinda. Following the mammoth success of Bol Radha Bol that resurrected the sagging career of romantic hero Rishi Kapoor along with Juhi Chawla, the Swarg duo got back together and hit bulls eye with the highly successful Shola Aur Shabnam, starring Govinda and the late Divya Bharati.

On the other hand, Aankhen turned out to be the turning point in the career of David Dhawan, who was till then denied credit for the success of his previous films.

Aankhen Aankhen now figures in one of the ten hit blockbusters in Hindi cinema. Also, Dhawan's fascination for double roles came in full foray. Witness his fetish for twins and lookalikes in Bol Radha Bol, Aankhen, Judwaa, etc. Recently, in a television programme (Isi Ka Naam Zindagi), Dhawan suggested was considering a subject with Karisma Kapoor in a double role.

Post Aankhen, Dhawan and Govinda, coupled with Karisma Kapoor, Kader Khan and Shakti Kapoor (regular comedians in Dhawan comedies), went on to give several hits like Raja Babu, Coolie No 1, Saajan Chale Sasural, Hero No 1. Often charged of delivering hits only in Govinda starrers, Dhawan pairing with Anil Kapoor in Andaz, Deewana Mastana, Loafer, Gharwali Baharwali, Salman Khan in Judwaan, Biwi No 1, Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge reaped in great benefits.

What works in his favour is that Dhawan's films have a simple, basic storyline that seldom preaches, yet entertains.

His modus operandi to draw masses has been questioned by many. But the fact is that David Dhawan films demand an opening.

While distinguished filmmakers like Sooraj Barjatya, Subhash Ghai or Sanjay Leela Bhansali take their own sweet time to wrap their dream projects, Dhawan possesses an uncanny ability to direct more than a handful films and complete them in record time at a moderate budget.

Another aspect of Dhawan that remains undermined is the fact that he has been instrumental in changing the fortunes of many stars. Most stars highlight their films with the [Yash] Chopras and [Subhash] Ghais in their curriculum vitae, though Dhawan is responsible for many a crucial hit in their career.

Govinda and David Dhawan While the Govinda-Dhawan partnership proved mutually beneficial, Karisma Kapoor also gained a foothold in the industry as leading heroine in all their ventures. The actress had the maximum number of hits in her career in David Dhawan films, including Biwi No 1, before she went on to meaningful roles in Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Raja Hindustani, Fiza and Zubeidaa.

Salman Khan got a much needed image change in the rib-tickling comedy Judwaa. Amitabh Bachchan and Raveena Tandon got a new lease of life in Bade Miya Chhote Miya.

Comedy is undoubtedly David Dhawan's forte. His attempt at a mushy love triangle --- Dhanwaanstarring Ajay Devgan, Karisma Kapoor and Manisha Koirala --- and a social thriller Yaarana (a remake of Sleeping With The Enemy) with Madhuri Dixit failed to click at the BO.

Dhawan has had an enviable run so far with his hit ratio overshadowing the flops. Although the man has attracted a fair share of controversy thanks to some double entendres in the dialogues and songs in his earlier films like Raja Babu, Andaz and Loafer etc. Govinda's infamous pelvic thrusts in Aa aa ee and Sarkailo Khatiya (Raja Babu), Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla mouthing inanities like Main maal gaadi tu dhaka laga (Andaz) to name a few.

His last endeavor- Kyunkii Main Jhooth Nahi Bolta was a rehash of Jim Carrey's Liar Liar. This summer he is back with the Indianised version of Harold Ramis' Analyze This, replete with romance angles and songs.

The idea to remake the Robert De Niro-Billy Crystal starrer was suggested by close friends Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt. However Salman had to walk out due to unforeseen circumstances and Ajay Devgan stepped in as Aishwarya Rai's love interest. Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt relive the shrink-don camaraderie.

After Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Dhawan's next films in the pipeline are Yeh Hai Jalwa (Salman Khan, Amisha Patel), Chor Machaye Shor (Bobby Deol, Shilpa Shetty, Bipasha Basu) and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah (Govinda, Sanjay Dutt, Shamita Shetty).


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