15 years of Aankhen

Vipul Shah holds forth on his block­buster de­but film, which de­fied all scep­tics

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Sa­marth Goyal sa­marth.goyal@htlive.in

Di­rec­tor Vipul Shah never ex­pected that his di­rec­to­rial de­but, Aankhen (2002), star­ring Amitabh Bachchan, Ak­shay Kumar, Ar­jun Ram­pal, Paresh Rawal and Sush­mita Sen, would be such a mas­sive hit at the box of­fice. It was the sec­ond high­est gross­ing Bol­ly­wood film of 2002. As the film com­pletes 15 years to­day, the di­rec­tor shares his mem­o­ries.

The film had two end­ings. What made you do that?

Ba­si­cally, we weren’t sure if peo­ple would ac­cept the end­ing, which showed Big B was on the loose. When we held a screen­ing of the film with the orig­i­nal end­ing, there was a lot of de­bate. So I asked him (Bachchan) if he wanted the end­ing to be more con­ven­tional. He liked the orig­i­nal end­ing. But I wasn’t sure, and af­ter think­ing for a long time, I changed it, just for the In­dian the­atres.

In the film, Paresh Rawal’s char­ac­ter is tick­led to death by Big B’s char­ac­ter. How did you come up with that idea?

My nephew was three years old at that time. I used to tickle him, be­cause he had a won­der­ful laugh­ter. One day, I tick­led him too much, and he got breath­less. From there, I got the idea that if some­one was tick­led un­con­trol­lably, they could die. I re­mem­ber, I was in a the­atre, [and] there was pin drop si­lence, af­ter he (Paresh) got killed.

Did you ever ex­pect the film, your di­rec­to­rial de­but, to do so well?

That time (the early 2000s) was quite in­ter­est­ing for Bol­ly­wood. Peo­ple were sur­prised when they learnt that Amitabh was the an­tag­o­nist, and Ak­shay Kumar had no hero­ine. The in­dus­try had its bets that Aankhen would not work. But I was sure that it’d do well, be­cause I had made a play on a sim­i­lar story, which was ap­pre­ci­ated all over In­dia.

When did you first re­alise that the film had be­come a hit?

There were ru­mours that (Hol­ly­wood ac­tor) Robert De Niro was in­ter­ested in the script. For some­one to hear that their de­but film was be­ing taken by Hol­ly­wood was a big com­pli­ment.

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