“My early experience with Hindi cinema was bad. Either I didn't enjoy the kind of films I edited or never got paid”

Raju Hirani is a hotshot director today, having created three hits in a row. But he started in Hindi films on the wrong foot. For his early work in feature films he hardly got paid and he had drifted into making ad films, where he was doing fine, explains Hirani. This is the third part of a three-part interview series.

ML: How did you come into Hindi films?
Hirani:
After coming to Mumbai in the early ‘90s and struggling to find a place, I joined Ekta videos as an in-house editor. The job was to assist those who came to get editing done but did not have an editor. People used to come to the studio with their own editor, but, if they didn’t have an editor, they had the option of using an in-house editor. At other times, I would manage the place, do the bookings, etc. I joined there for Rs1,200. But that was a turning point for me, because I met a lot of people who would come in wanting their work edited and I would do it. Very quickly, I started to get work independently and quit the place in six months and became a freelancer. For the next five years, I had no dearth of work—I edited a couple of feature films.

ML: How was your experience?
Hirani:
My experience with cinema was not very good. Either I didn't enjoy the kind of films I edited or never got paid for the work I did.

ML: Never got paid?
Hirani:
Two got stuck and were never released. One was made by a senior student and we were very passionately involved in it. He said he would give me Rs40,000 for the film, which was not huge, but we did it. When it was ready, nobody bought the film and he was planning to release it himself. He asked me if I knew anyone who would give him Rs2 lakh-Rs3 lakh; he would return it in a month after the film was released. I asked around, but nobody had the money. I had Rs60,000 in the bank, and I said, I would give him Rs50,000 and he could return it after a month. I never saw that money either. That was, of course, a sad case. The guy went into debt, borrowed even more and, finally, he died. So there were two films that I was involved with—one had Salman Khan and Raveena called ‘Pathar ke Phool’ and another with Suchitra Krishnamurthy and Rahul Roy, their debut film, which didn't work out. So I realised that films were not happening. After that I started doing ad films with Piyush Pandey, Leena Bakshi, Dilip Ghosh and others who were rather new to advertising. I gelled with that group and enjoyed the kind of work they were doing and, unknowingly, I drifted into advertising. This must have been 1991-92. Initially, I was editing; then they started giving me audio-visuals to edit; and then, small films.
 

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