Quite apart from what must be an amazing contacts list, actor-turned-director-turned-film producer Arbaaz Khan has a nose for a good deal.
After a stop-start acting career, Khan turned his attention to film production back in 2010 with the release of ‘Dabangg’ – an unabashedly old-school Bollywood romp that set box office tills ringing across the world.
The follow-up came a full two years later and proved an even more monstrous commercial success. A producer is essentially a businessman and Khan, 47, has shown that he possesses the one characteristic that all great businessmen and women possess – prudence, in particular at times of immense success.
Instead of jumping into the deep end and churning out film after film, he’s taking a more measured approach, biding his time and being smart with his money.
Among those smart investments is working with the Indian Property Show which attracted scores of people to London’s Olympia over the weekend.
Arbaaz spoke exclusively to the UKAsian about his involvement with the show and the parallels between the worlds of business and cinema.
Sana Nooruddin: Why did you decide to get involved in the Indian Property Show?
Arbaaz Khan: I think because of the kind of the credibility they have built over the years. It’s their 9th year, and I have been involved with them for the last two years. So they have managed to do everything extremely successfully, and my being associated with them is like only adding another feather to my hat. I am happy to be associated with this group of people and the Indian Property Show, because they’re such a prestigious group of people who has done such amazing work, that being associated with them gives me a lot of creditability.
SN: You’ve been a part of their shows in other parts of the world. How does London compare?
AK: Yes, I have done it in Dubai earlier and you know coming to London is always a great feeling. I enjoy London as a place, and love the people over here. I just love London overall, it’s like a home away from home. There are a lot of friends here and just generally there are so many wonderful Asians living here so I always feel quite welcomed. And the show happening here is really great as there are lots of NRIs who are interested in properties back home and this is a beautiful way to showcase it to them.
SN: You’re active in the world of business as well as cinema. How do the two worlds compare?
AK: I guess, business in-terms of money there’s a very good chance you will make money, but with films the chances of recouping your investment are extremely bleak! That’s the only difference, but the thrill and excitement is probably the same. But like I said, it’s a safer bet to put your money in properties then movies!
SN: You’ve now produced – and directed – some huge box office successes, in particular the Dabbangg franchise. What’s the experience been like?
AK: The first film in the series was a very big challenge for me, because I was making the transition from being an actor to a producer and you know I was entering a territory which I have never entered before, so that was a big challenge. But, I entered it pretty fearlessly and thought you know fine, what other options do I have? I wanted to tell a story from all my heart, and God willing everything went well. With the second film, which I also directed, I think the challenges became greater because now I had to replicate an iconic movie which is even tougher than creating one in the first place! However, people loved the movie and loved the fact it was a great continuation.
SN: As an actor who has become a producer and director, and someone who has worked in other parts of the world, how does the Bollywood filmmaking process compare to other parts of the world?
AK: I suppose the only country you can compare Indian film-making is to Hollywood and the United States. Hollywood is a little more systematic with the processes. Having said that, we are getting there a well and things are a lot better than even just five years ago in Bollywood.
SN: Lastly as your wife Malaika Arora has also been part of your home production movies. Will we be seeing you two anytime soon sharing same screen space and what are your up-coming projects?
AK: (Smiles) I have shared screen space in movies with my brothers in the past, but with Malaika, let’s see hopefully. And regarding my projects, yes I am working on a few things which you will hopefully get to see next year.