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Sajid Nadiadwala : From Spot Boy To Producer

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Sajid Nadiadwala, one of Bollywood’s biggest producer, speaks about his journey from being a spot boy to Dharmendra to producing Bollywood’s biggest films. Sajid has produced some of Bollywood’s biggest films, namely Judwaa, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Jaan-E-Mann and the recent flick Heyy Babyy. Here is Sajid Nadiadwala reminiscing his journey. Read on….

It seems that when you were a child, you had least interest in films. How did it happen then?
Trust me, that’s a suspense story even for me. I guess it was in was in my blood. As a child, I was a complete bookworm. I did my law and IIS and was waiting for my exams. I wanted to be an executive officer. I used to spend time in libraries and would keep myself away from films. My connection with Hindi films was limited to just viewing them.

Then how did you land up being a producer?
In 1984, I was waiting for my IIS results and during that time my uncles Habib Nadiadwala and Farooq Nadiadwala were producing a film called Gulami. My dad asked me to help them for a while. So, I used to be Dharmendra’s spot boy and Sangeeta Bijlani’s driver. I was considered glamorous spot boy, and Dharamji started calling me grandson. He knew my grandfather Abdul Karim Nadiadwala and also my father Suleman Nadiadwala. So, he would fondly call me grandson. Following him, everyone started calling me by that name. Our family has been into this since 1955, my grandfather produced Shakti Samanta’s film Inspector.

Do you remember your first day as a spot boy?
I don’t remember the first day as a spot boy, but my second film with them was Hatiyaar. The call time for Dharamji was at 5 am and it was the first day of shooting. We were shooting near the parking area of Gaiety cinema in Bandra.

I was asked to take permission from the local cops for the shooting. I took permission from one area, but director JP Dutta wanted to shoot the scene from other side of the road, which fell into another police station’s jurisdiction.

I didn’t have the necessary permission letters with me, so I went up to him and explained that he could take the shot from the side where we had permission. He screamed at me, ‘Who is the director of the film?’ I was so scared that I ran inside Dharamji’s make up van and didn’t come out the whole day!

So, that’s how you have learnt as a producer that never to interfere in a director’s work?
To an extent, I did learn a lot from my experience. When I decided to launch my own company, I was very sure that I would fight with the director on the script level, but would not interfere once he starts shooting. I think, shooting a film is the easiest part.

How did you think of starting your production house and why such a weird name for a company?
I named it Nadiadwala Grandson, because people used to call me by that name. I didn’t even realise that slowly I was getting involved in the business of cinema. I was just 21 years old when I decided that I will start my own company.

Sajid nadiadwala Interview

Pic : Sajid Nadiadwala

I think, I was very excited the day I registered my company. I was immature to keep a funny name like that. I never thought that people will talk about my company in India or abroad. In fact, later wanted to change the name but somehow it didn’t happen.

What have you achieved as a producer?
I think 1997-2007 was my first phase as a producer. I introduced DTS sound in Bollywood cinema with Judwaa. Now, in Heyy Babyy you will get to see the Animatrox effect, which we have used.

There is a scene where the baby is getting wet in the rain – that has been done digitally. These are the technologies which I am working with. My next target is to venture into animation films.

I have set up a team, where people are working round the clock on animation films. I want to take my company global and make films which will be recognised. I admit that I have made tacky films also, but then I have contributed for good also.

It seems that you and Salman didn’t get along well when you started off as a producer?
Yes. My first film with Salman was Judwaa. He was working with David Dhawan for the first time. Salman was not at all interested in David’s style of filmmaking.

He would come to the sets and say, “Yeh mujhse nahin hoga!” But after five days, he understood David and till date they share a brilliant chemistry.

Why did you ask Shah Rukh Khan to make a special appearance in your film Heyy Babyy instead of Salman?
I didn’t want to take any favours from Salman Khan. If I wanted, I could have asked him to be the hero in my film, but that would have been unfair on my part. I know that during Jaan-e-Mann, he had a hair fiasco and all his dates got postponed.

To get dates from Salman I would have had to wait for two years. By the way, Salman does favours for everybody – he has done 15 guest appearances in the last five years and he hardly says ‘no’ to people he knows.

Sajid already had Riteish and Fardeen, I spoke to Akshay and he blindly trusted me and signed the film even without reading the script. He said, “I will do it for Aarav, he will love it!” As far as SRK is concerned, it was a promise he made to Sajid Khan. With his presence he has made our film special.

What next?
I’ve signed three new directors and allotted 40 crore for each. Now tell me who invests so much money on freshers? I have made films with Shirish Kunder, now with Sajid Khan and my next will be with Sabir Khan.

The film is tentatively titled as Kambakht Ishq, and we have signed Akshay Kumar for the role. I want new talent to take over – that’s the only way we can make fresh films.

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