Diwali lights up this year with Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor who star together in Sooraj Barjatya’s grand epic Prem Ratan Dhan Payo which releases in North American theaters this Thursday, November 12. The lead actors sat down to talk about their highly anticipated new film in this exclusive interview below.
How was working with Sooraj Barjatya on the set?
Sonam: Sooraj Ji is one of the most amazing people to work with. Besides the fact that he is an amazing filmmaker, there is such kindness and generosity as a human being that you just learn from it. And I am fortunate enough that he considered me for this film, because he makes few films, and decided to cast me. It was my luck. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. And I hope he keeps casting me in films!
Salman: The qualities that he has are very godlike. I think he is undoubtedly one of the best directors that we have ever had. As a human being, I think Sooraj Barjatya is on a different plane altogether. He is one of the finest humans that I have ever met. And he has been like this since he was 19. He’s the nicest person that you would ever meet. What he says he believes. He will never do anything that he is not convinced of. And he is one of the strongest people that I have ever met! He does not need to raise his voice. He does not need to show any anger. He is so clear in his thinking. And he speaks very little. He listens.
In today’s distracted world, can this new film bring families together?
Sonam: I think that’s the reason that this film is so relevant. It’s relevant in the world of social media, and mobile phones, and the internet, and laptops and everything. I’ve gone to parties and 50% of people are on their phones and they aren’t interacting with each other. Think about the parties of before. I feel like it’s so relevant because the one thing that we actually lack, even though we have every medium of communication, is communication! We actually aren’t communicating and talking to each other and seeing each other. We can’t do without our phones and we don’t connect. And that’s why a film like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is so relevant because the one thing in relationships that we as a generation lack is communication.
Salman: This film, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, we’re watching this film. So I know this one particular guy. I know he is with his phone all the time. I want to see his reaction. So I stood behind him. He was watching the film. In the first fifteen minutes, he put his phone aside. Which I thought was a great quality. This film has that thing. It just gets you into it. But you need to see it with the right mindset. It’s a funny film that is full of humor, sensitivity, romance, but the plot is so beautiful, in all that romance and everything, it comes to this one small point, which is messing all of us up. That is that brothers and sisters should not fight. There is no reason why they should fight. They need to just sort it out. Just negotiate and finish it. It is all going to be fine.
Tell us about the palaces and the grand sets of the film.
Salman: People lived in houses that were almost like palaces. So just imagine, this time he is making a film about people who actually live in palaces. Trust me. I have traveled. I have seen all of the palaces here. Stayed in them. Shot in them. I’ve seen all of them. We’ve shot in most of them for this film. About 3-4 palaces. We’ve gone back and we’ve put up our own palace, which perhaps would be as big and as grand as any other palaces. It’s big. It’s very large. It’s very beautiful. And you need that grandness.
How much do you relate to the character that you are playing?
Sonam: With Maithili, she is a very modern day girl. She knows what she wants from the person that she wants to spend the rest of her life with, and she knows what she wants from life, and she is not afraid to ask for it. At the same time, she has her values intact. In a lot of ways, I hope that I get inspired by that. We all make mistakes when we are younger in a lot of ways. She’s got enough courage to be like I’d rather be alone and happy than unhappy and with somebody. And she has the courage to face that.
You’re reuniting with Sooraj Barjatya after 16 years. How is this Prem different from the ones that we have seen you play in his films?
Salman: See the first one is always going to be special, Maine Pyar Kiya. Because that’s the Prem. Now Sooraj wrote Prem. I play Prem in the movie. Now does Prem make us? Or did we make Prem? We don’t know. Then came Hum Aapke Hain Koun. You know Sooraj just took it to another level of greatness. It is still one of the better films that we have made in our country. And then came Hum Saath-Saath Hain, which was a better film. And then now, we just finished this film, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. It’s going to release on the 12th of November, and I think this gap of this 16 years. Me and him. I think Sooraj has grown, tremendously. He is a lot more simpler than what he used to be when he was 19 years old. We all get complicated. More and more complicated. We all start developing fears. He, right now, is fearless. And he is really simple.
And that is what Sooraj has made out of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. He has made a really sweet and simple movie about romance and about family matters with an incredible amount of entertainment and humor. I mean you’ve seen Sooraj’s films, every film also has a lot of entertainment and comedy. He doesn’t need to give a message. He just writes and the message automatically comes in. I believe that whenever Sooraj Barjatya comes in and makes a movie, he changes people. I mean now, when you saw Hum Aapke Hain Koun, when there was Maine Pyar Kiya, there was a lot of people who have named their kids Prem. They did a contest recently, of how many Prems are there. And Jesus Christ, there are lots of Prems! That is what Sooraj Barjatya has done. Brought people together. He’s brought back our culture. He changes people. When you leave a Sooraj Barjatya film, after the end of the titles, you emerge a better person.