‘The Script is the Hero’
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Paresh Rawal on the success of Oh My God! and why theatre will always be his first love.
Oh My God! has been one of this year's biggest sleeper hits. Did you expect this response?
During the film's release, I did not think of the kind of response it would get, but I knew the impact it would have on the audience. For years, we have been doing the play Kanji Viruddh Kanji in Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi, where we have seen people's lives being transformed after watching the play. So we knew it would do the same on the big screen. But the response has been overwhelming. People have watched it three to four times. One person told me, 'Yeh picture dekhne laayak nahin, jeene laayak hai' (The film is not worth seeing, it is worth living).
When did you decide to adapt the play into a film?
Umesh (Shukla, director) and I have been friends for over 20 years. We have worked together on the stage and we realised that the play should reach a wider audience. In order to make it into a film, I decided to produce it while Umesh was keen on directing it. During one of my meetings with Akshay (Kumar), I mentioned the story to him. He was so impressed, he decided to co-produce it.
Do you believe in god?
I do believe in god but I do not believe in idol worship. If I visit a temple, I would offer Rs 10 to the beggar standing outside, rather than make an offering inside. I believe that religion today is subject to fear. We worship god because we fear him. We should be god-loving, not god-fearing.
Have religious groups protested against the movie?
No. In fact, they have called and said that they agree with most of the things we say in the movie. At the end of the day, all this is true. We are just too scared to accept it because we believe if we go against idol worship, wrong things will happen to us.