'Salman is still doing Marigold'

Asserts Willard Carroll, director of the Hollywood film that begins shooting in India next March
Rajeev Masand Screen Com Nov 10, 2002

Putting an end to industry speculation that Salman Khan has been replaced in the Hollywood film Marigold following the actorfs recent brush with the law in a hit-and-run case, American director Willard Carroll reveals that the Maine Pyar Kiya star is still very much a part of the project. gWhen I first heard about the incident in California, my reaction was to just stick with it. This kind of news is always disturbing but I knew there would be many versions of the story. I didnft panic,h the film-maker says.

At a recording studio in Mumbai where Carroll is currently collaborating with the filmfs music composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, he insists that contrary to rumours, he never approached any other actor for the lead following Khanfs arrest. gIn fact, it was Salman himself who very graciously volunteered to bow out of the project if we felt his arrest could cause any inconvenience to the film,h Carroll adds. And although he did meet Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Vivek Oberoi recently, gthose were just social visits. The only projects I discussed with them were possible future filmsh.
The film-maker says he met Salman Khan after his release and noticed that he is doing great. gHefs happy to be back and with his family, and he seems eager to start off on this film.h Carroll believes that gwhen accidents happen to famous people, they tend to make the front pageh and says itfs the same in Hollywood. Relieved that Khan has been released from judicial custody, Carroll says that when he first came to India last year, hefd read about Khanfs bad-boy image. gBut when I got to know him better, I realised that the person I met is not the person I had read about. And Ifm a pretty good judge of people.h

Scheduled to begin filming in March next year, and budgeted at US $10 million, Marigold is a love story between a B-movie American actress and an Indian dance choreographer who trains her for a Bollywood film she is hired to act in. To be filmed in English (gInitially wefd planned two versions, but wefve decided not to do a Hindi version nowh) and to be released in the US and across the world as a typical Hollywood studio film, Marigold is being perceived in Bollywood as an undoubtedly prestigious international vehicle for all the Indians involved. Insisting that he picked Khan because he felt the actor had immense potential to become the first crossover star from India, Carroll says he became fixed upon the Hum Aapke Hain Kaun star gafter I saw a lot of his movies in which I noticed his spontaneity and his sparkh.

The film-maker, who in 1999 directed Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, Angelina Jolie, Ryan Phillippe and Gillian Anderson in Playing By Heart, says Salmanfs sense of humour has an American strain. gBesides, he has this boyishness which is just perfect for the role. Also, he speaks English not just well, but colloquially, which is exactly what the requirement was.h

Opposite Khan, the producers are in the process of casting an American actress. gEither a big name or an emerging name. The main requirement is that she must be able to sing, and she should be willing to dance,h Carroll says. He also reveals that they are currently negotiating with a handful of American stars, and will have the female lead cast in the next week or so.
gWefve been very specifically asked not to give out names,h says Sidharth Jain, Vice President, Hyperion Pictures India, the company producing Marigold. gBut it will most certainly be an actress that audiences are familiar with.h At least a few big names including Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Gwyneth Paltrow are being tossed around, but Jain says it is too early to confirm anything.

gAlong with the script, wefve sent out a videotape of song clips from Bollywood films to every actress wefre considering for the role,h Carroll reveals. gThatfs so they have an idea of the kind of song-and-dance numbers wefre going for.h And much to his own pleasant surprise, the director says, gmost actresses were very excitedh. Of the opinion that America is ready for a Bollywood-style musical, Carroll explains that an awareness about India is just about setting in. gBombay Dreams is coming to Broadway next year, and the US is still dancing to the Bollywood tune of the new Addictive song,h he points out.

For his own part, Carroll says he got hooked on to Indian films after randomly venturing into a Chennai movie hall during a business trip to the country last year. gIt was a film called Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, and ten minutes into it, I was won over,h he says. Since then, the filmmaker claims hefs seen about hundred Bollywood potboilers of which he enjoyed Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Khamoshi The Musical, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Dil Chahta Hai particularly.

Like them, Marigold will be a very gnaturalh film, high on emotion and drama, Carroll reveals. To recreate the typically Bollywood feel that he has enjoyed in most Hindi movies, the director says hefs hired set-designer Nittin Chandrakant Desai as production designer, and choreographer Farah Khan. On this trip to India, Carroll says he will hire all the supporting cast, and will travel to Rajasthan to scout for locations. gIfve written most of the film to be set in Rajasthan, but Ifve never been there before,h he says.