Karan Johar and director Soham Shah of Kaal fame have gone their separate ways. The main point of conflict between the two was apparently the casting of Sanjay Dutt in the young director's next film.
Karan was committed to Sanjay and willing to wait until the actor's court troubles got over, but Soham was eager to start filming because his script was ready. Meanwhile, he has met Kumar Mangat, Ajay Devgan's business manager, who suggested that the actor might be interested in his script.
"To leave Dharma (Productions) wasn't an easy thing to do. Karan has been like family. And to make the film for anyone else was unthinkable," Soham told IANS. However, a yearlong wait with a ready script made Soham genuinely concerned.
"I was aware that Dharma had other productions on the anvil. But here I was ready to go on floors waiting for the green signal. It was a painful decision and I had to move on. But when people accuse me of moving on to greener pastures I am truly pained. There're no pastures for me right now. And there can be no greener pasture than Dharma productions," he added.
"Yes, I've met Kumar Mangatji. But I'm yet to meet Ajay Devgan. He has been very busy ever since he returned from South Africa. I'm waiting for him to give me time. Of course, we had a rapport when I made Kaal with Ajay. And Kumar Mangatji has told me Ajay has a three-month chunk of dates next year that can be used."
When he parted ways with Karan, Soham had only his script to rely on and he will have to start from scratch. "When I left Dharma, I had no producer on stand by. I don't have one even now," said Shah. "All I know is that I've the script of Renzil d'Silva - Rang De Basanti. It's my biggest asset. Now I need to put the entire project together again, piece by piece," says Soham.
Soham now feels a little isolated from the film industry. "I'm not like Nikhil Advani who could start his own production house and put together a huge Salaam-e-Ishq after his break up from Dharma. I don't have that kind of support or strength.
"I didn't even want to move away from Dharma, and did so only because I had no other choice. But Karan is and will always remain my mentor. I owe whatever I am today to him. Without his production house to support me, the future looks dark. But I've confidence in my script."
And is Karan hurt by Soham's sudden move? "I've spoken to him and sorted things out. He has been generous enough to understand what I've gone through," the director said.
Karan responded with tight-lipped candour, saying: "Soham is a master craftsman, a master storyteller and a great human being. No matter who his producer is I hope his film will meet with great success."
Karan will soon be producing his long-standing assistant Tarun Mansukhani's film. "It's a romantic comedy with the fun element being predominant. Tarun has been with me for the last decade. And yes, it will have lots of stars. Isn't that a prerequisite for all Dharma productions?"